Archive for the ‘random coolness’ Category

ever wanted to just hang out in the slytherin common room?

Ever wanted to hang out in the Slytherin common room, or Gryffindor’s, or any of the other houses? Or, maybe, on a balcony in Rivendell? Madam Vastra’s arboretum, perhaps? Or maybe a snowy day in Skyrim?

Well, y’can’t. But I did just stumble across an ambient sounds site that will let you make the room you’re in feel a bit like those places might, by creating the right audio environment. It’s called Ambient Mixer, and it lets you set up your own environmental soundtrack, as well as both play and modify those set up by others.

It’s pretty neat – it works by playing public domain sound samples that you can set up to loop, with things like placement and randomisation so it’s not just the same 120 seconds or whatever over and over again. So occasionally you’ll hear someone through the room, or pages in a book might turn, or the fire might make occasional other noises, the wind will pick up outside, or you’ll hear a hawk – and so on.

In some cases, it works really well to turn off any of the specific instruments if present (like the ‘spirit cello’ in Skyrim) and play it along to the soundtrack album, if one is available. I’m doing that right now, combining the Skyrim snowy day ambient audio with the OST, and it’s astonishingly effective.

It’s fun to play with, and certainly soothing. Also, it’s reminding me real hard right now about how much I miss Skyrim and am looking forward to the PS4 remastered version coming out soon. Because damn, that was a great game.

still here, so let’s geek out about recovering damaged recordings

Whelp, wave one/two are mostly past us, and so far, we’re still up! We had three short outages overnight, but nothing the UPSes couldn’t handle – the longest was about 10 seconds long, nothing actually serious.

Tonight could get dicey in the early afternoon; tomorrow afternoon, though, will be the biggest event. It’s a separate system, we aren’t in some kind of eye; Songda doesn’t have an eye any more, and is continuing to weaken. They’re thinking more “2006” than “1962” at this point, so those winds will most likely top out in the 90-100kph range.

Still, in 2006, we lost power for two days, and neighbours lost theirs for nine. So it’s still to be taken seriously.

I’m still working on a project for some people in Great Big Sea fandom, helping them recover a badly-degraded cassette recording of a concert from 1993. It’s… wow yeah, it’s a mess. Definitely one of those, “I’ve got this to the point where it’s… pretty bad! But here, listen to the original for comparison…” projects. I think I’ve managed to make wide sections of it listenable, in that you can make out lyrics pretty much all of the time now, you can hear choruses, the weird continuous rumble is gone, the particularly fierce for some reason tape hiss is gone, things like that. But damn, the distortion is pretty fierce at times. I’m pretty sure they were overdriving the microphone.

Here’s the plugin stack, from memory:

  • repetitive noise reduction (-18db)
  • low pass filter (more hiss)
  • high pass filter (rumble)
  • 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (with deeply gnarly settings, this was not a good recording)
  • multi-band compressor (to reduce crowd noise as percentage of signal)
    right about here it starts to sound like a normal, if low-quality, recording
  • second 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (basic general EQ)
  • second low pass filter (because asymmetrical EQ curves aren’t a thing)
  • standard compressor (oh look something almost normal!)
  • 20-band notch equaliser (fixing dents in the curve, I thought, “let’s try this” and it worked)
  • some very short-duration reverb to hide many remaining sins (waveform smoothing)
  • fast look-ahead limiter on master bus (kind of a circuit breaker, for peak protection, should do absolutely nothing) and done.

It’s kind of a lot. The automation in particular is pretty hilarious – the recorder had automatic recording level adjust and they used it (NEVER USE THAT) and I’m kind of undoing all of that the best I can. I’m also fixing dropouts, stuff like that.

(Seriously, never use automatic recording level, I’m pulling entire lines of songs back out of noise.)

If any audio engineer is reading this: I know. I know. But I can’t combine those EQ passes, I tried – the processing between them matters too much. And of course, this is a no-pay project, because it’s fannish – but I volunteered, and every time I do one of these things, I learn something.

Okay, now we’re getting more power flickers, so let’s post this while we can still echo it around. Adventures!

legend of korra fandom has been exploding

Legend of Korra fandom has been exploding a bit since Mike Dante did an AMA on Reddit over the weekend – oh, hi, we’re back from VCON, by the way – with commentary like this:

Also, apparently the comics start literally seconds after the end of the series. I mean literally seconds:

I knew exactly where I wanted to start – moments after the finale ends, with Korra and Asami entering the spirit world…

So yes, I think it’s fair to say that all of us deeply into this fandom (remember, We’re Not Friends/The Future Has a Place is explicitly about the fandom reaction to Korra and Asami being a canon couple) are pretty buzzy right now. C’MON C’MON C’MON C’MON GIMMIE 😀

if you’re having trouble with paypal today

I’ve heard that some people are having trouble with PayPal through Bandcamp? If that describes you, drop a comment and I’ll contact you in email about alternative arrangements. We can do this, I promise.

Anybody else going to PAX today? I’ll be showing up with the shiny new PocketCHIP I supported in Kickstarter! I just got it, barely know how to turn it on, the flail will be hilarious in the handheld gaming area. But I’m bringing it! 😀

NEW SINGLE HERE! Read about and play it!

this is not turning into a gaming blog i swear

Really, it’s not, but I just won a game in Overwatch (Hanamura, Attacking) literally solo by going to the second objective and SITTING DOWN ‘TIL VICTORY because NOBODY NOTICED I WAS THERE.

It was hilarious. I was looking at their advance guard from behind and going, “don’t turn around, don’t turn around, don’t turn around” and they didn’t until suddenly the VICTORY! banner appears and everybody is going WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!


This is even better than yesterday’s game as Pharah (the rocketeer) where – in a round we lost, actually, but I don’t care – a Roadhog grabbed me with his chain and yanked me down to him, except my ultimate was ready so I was all JUSTICE RAINS ON YOUR FACE

it would’ve looked a lot like this, only MUCH CLOSER

pretty sure piggy wasn’t expecting that XD

In actually band-relevant news, I think I have singers for the chorus of “We’re Not Friends” now. Neither are 100% definite but both are very likely. Hopefully we can record next week!

Still thinking on another title tho’. I mean, I actually like the title as it stands? I’d really prefer to keep the title sometime from the lyrics and that’s the best title line in it. But negative titles don’t get the “play” button hit, so there you are.

hee hee hee sitting my way to victory XD XD XD

the transition masking alone is worth the watch

Watch this. No, seriously, watch this, the transition masking alone will blow your mind. It’s a Disney fan AMV, and it’s got something from pretty much every Disney animated picture since 1989, plus a few others, and it’s great. You will feel happier after watching it.

cardboard electric guitar

This is pretty cool – a cardboard company and Fender Guitars got together to make a one-off cardboard guitar. And sure, it’s promotional video, but it’s an cool looking end product.

I love how you can see through so much of it:

They don’t tell you much about engineering for strength, but I have some thoughts, because where you can’t see through it tells you a lot about how they made it work. You can clearly see the truss rod, common to all metal-strung guitars. But there’s also a keel added in back:

And the one through-shot of the head shows how – surprisingly – the tuning knobs may have a backplate, but they do not seem to be attached to the neck bracing. That’s just the cardboard.

I’m more curious about the sudden change in the finish between shots, right after they’ve sanded the body into the shape they want. They put a lot of something into it, and I really doubt that’s just lacquer.



Hardeners, maybe? I don’t know. But I don’t see how it keeps the edges of its form across plays without some sort of chemical additive. And I’m really curious about the string bending being done by some of the players – doing that against that texture looks really messy, but they’ve got it going – is it just fret pressure and nothing on the board, or is the top layer filled with something transparent?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m for it. I think it’s Neat, with a capital N. Frankly, I think it’s gorgeous, and I can only imagine how little it weighs. Getting a bass built like that might be amazing, if the cardboard has been made durable enough. I’m just wanting more details on what it took to make it work.

(h/t to George P. Burdell III on Facebook for the link)

family visit

Minion Anna had family in town for a few days; we’ve been showing them around town and also took them to see Ghostbusters, which is why I haven’t been online much. (Holtzmann is now my crazy crazy movie science girlfriend! ♥)

Playing tourist host is really quite odd; it makes your own town feel like some sort of theme park. But I’d never gone to the Chihuly Garden at Seattle Centre before, and that was really rather more interesting than I’d expected. I took a bunch of pictures, here are some of the ones I liked better.

Bigger versions at Flickr.

back to real recording

I did a lot of vocals recording Monday – some tracks I intend to keep, some more or less placeholders, scratch tracks for other vocalists – all on the new system, all at the absolutely goofy 0.7ms buffer setting, just to see if the system would actually work, being driven that hard all the time, over hours.

It does.

It hiccoughed a couple of times. Nothing involving data loss – after waking back up from screen lock mode, the audio subsystem had to be restarted by me, rather than coming back up on its own. I need to disable screen locking anyway. Once during some playback, I heard a momentary pause, though no XRUNs showed up in the status monitor, so I’m not sure what’s up with that.

I should probably, I dunno, step back a bit? Give it some margin for error? But so far, I’m not being forced to.

In other news, all 39 episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena are legally on YouTube now. YOU HAVE NO MORE REASONS TO DELAY AND MAY START WATCHING NOW.

(Because jfc the chemistry between Utena and Anthy is smokin’ right out the goddamn gate. I do not like the series’s ending, because reasons addressed pretty directly by Avatar: The Legend of Korra, but everything up until that is amazing.)

less an annoyatron and more an annoyaharmonica?

Friday night, a bunch of the Lair went out to see the Seattle Symphony and Chorale do Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, and 1) holy crow, what a marathon for the performers, I mean damn, and 2) that worked surprisingly well as an art form. Also, the soloists were great.

I know that soundtrack better than I realised, too – I kept picking up small differences in performance, mostly breathing points with winds. There’s a bit towards the end with tin whistle that I don’t know how you do without a breath, and my suspicion now is “you don’t, you do it in post.”

Of course, as soon as we got to Boromir at the Council of Elrond, the entire room exploded in laughter, as was inevitable. DAMN YOU INTERNETS

I also picked up this monster in the gift shop:

And posted on Twitter, “YAY! I’ve found a whole way to be annoying!” and then played bits from Lord of the Rings all the way home. But after playing around with it a while – really, it’s not so much an annoyatron. It’s more a harmonica with a keyboard. That maybe could still be super annoying, but it will, nonetheless, be musical.

Sadly, it’s not chromatic – it’s C-major only – but it’s more flexible than you’d expect, and you can get a bit of vibrato out of it. I have no idea what if anything I’ll ever do with it, but it’s a legit addition to the noisemaker collection.

George (the cat), though, really hates it. So I guess it’s still an annoyatron for some of us. Poor kitty. 😀

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