Sound as a Muse

I’ve been processing sound files to create a foundation for animation. I’m building on last year’s work around incongruent foley and non-diagetic sound. I’m starting with sound, and then seeing what animation shows up for me based on what I’m hearing.

This post is about some of the devices I’m using to accomplish this. I find inspiration in them, and maybe you will, too.

Years ago, I accumulated and compiled a lot of “found sounds” with a portable mini-disc set up. I used to carry one around, along with a pair of Shure SM-58 microphones, and record stuff. This is before iPhones. The sound on the Mini-Disc is really great, but it’s impossible for me to get the source files off of the proprietary hardware, other than through the headphone jacks. That’s pretty shitballs, but, whatever. I’ve never been much more than a lofi fellow, anyway.

Mini-disc players

In addition to the many hours of weird stuff from the mini-discs, I dug up some old cassette players.

Now, Lookit this beaut! It has four stereo outputs, which means I can use it to send a signal to four different processors/amps/whatever. I call it the Bell & Howler.

Bell & Howell tape deck

Additionally, I’ve enjoyed using Red Panda’s Particle to add a little English to the tapes. You can hear this in the video below.

Emerson Walkman and Red Panda Particle pedal

I’m also a big fan of Red Panda’s Tensor, which is like a tape loop machine with a hyperdrive.

Mini-tape deck

My buddy Jack Livingston was in Colorado in the late 1970’s, and he attended a series of workshops hosted by Beatnik poet, Allen Ginsberg. We share a love for Beat culture and writing, and Jack loaned me some recordings from those sessions. I’m going to use some of this in an upcoming, literary inspired animation.

Allen Ginsberg Tapes

Thrift stores are FULL of odd old tapes, there’s no shortage of material to be found on them. These are great for making short loops.

Disassembled tape cassette
Short tape loop

Finally, I use my iPhone to capture stuff all the time. Using handful of devices in this article, there are endless possibilities for making compelling audio tracks and foley.

I’ll explore how the sounds themselves can inform the visuals for animation in an upcoming post.

The End of the Twenty Tens

I haven’t written a year end post since 2012.

My life took a big turn in 2013, and during the years that followed. My marriage ended in divorce. I moved to another zip code. I changed jobs. I went back to school. I moved to yet another zip code. I changed jobs again. There were deaths, and loss, and the sad ending of relationships. In other words, a lot of life happened.

I started drinking in 2013, after ~20 years of not drinking. I strongly suspect that, because I started drinking again, I have not written any year end posts.

My previous “year in review” posts contained notes of gratitude for that year’s many blessings. I have so much for which to be grateful. I will not attempt to enumerate the many wonderful things that have happened since 2013, or even from 2019, in this year end blog post. I will name just one blessing, which I intend to carry into our collective future.

I am sober.

Happy New Year!

Penn State is Great

Penn State playes in an altoids smalls tin

I made this as a present. It’s a little tight, in this small space, but I’m proud of the lion’s ear in the Penn State logo background.

Early Drawings

Here are some more drawings from my very young self.

Epic battle with Batman, Spiderman and Hulk
Epic battle with a crabclaw monster
Epic battle with Godzilla
Crow-dude, a character of my own invention.

Harry and Hazzel in Haunter Hex

In doing some research for a school project, I found this comic I made as a kid.

Back then, I was deeply inspired by both Tom & Jerry comics, and The Cricket in Times Square.

Cover page to comic
Look at that storm! It was a very dark and stormy night!
car driving in the rain
I’ll translate my youthful handwriting. The top panel reads “Driving home, from a trip, in a car they built, Harry, Hazzle, Jester, and larry feel uneasy about the storm.” Then, “The car is very neat. It has jets in the back, and ??? in the front.” The next panel reads “The bridge the(y) had to cross was down.”

I always made my characters live in over designed houses, and drive over designed vehicles that they made themselves.

A formidable castle in the distance
“They saw this and went in.”
“Look! We can park over there. See.”
“Alright.”

The castle (there probably wasn’t a motel anywhere) was on a cliff, of course. And you can see the purple door, even from this far away.

A huge castle door
“Look how far up that is!”
“Just for a door!”
“Lets see you find a peep hole in that thing!”
“It sure is lopsided!! It has weird carvings on it.”

I remember thinking the door was off when I drew it, so I worked that into the conversation, as though it was on purpose.

I can’t find the rest of the story. I know they found a smaller door and gained entrance to the castle, and had adventures inside. But, I can’t remember what happened.