The Benefits of Radiation

I am happy to present my latest animation, The Benefits of Radiation. It’s the backstory for some of my action figures.

The story takes place in a Baltimore bar called Roshambos. You’ll figure the rest out if you watch the video above.

I’m happy with how this turned out. I’ve spent more time on this than anything I’ve completed to date. Time, both in terms of the hours it took to make, and also from the time I that had the idea for the story, up to this evening.

A ream of drawings...

I drew each frame on a light box and used about a ream of paper.

Drawing of a hand holding a can of space dust.

I finally found a use for Space Dust, too.

I enjoyed doing the foley for this. I enjoyed getting to know some of the characters. Perhaps you will enjoy this.

In any event, please please please… Enjoy Radiation Responsibly!

The Septic Blank

Holy Cats!!! I finally completed the RPM challenge.

This album is a 13 “song” collection of my found-sound recordings, drums, guitar and tape loops with effects applied to them.

I consider this to be a WIP for an album I’m releasing later this year – which I’ll write about soon.

I’ve set out to complete the RPM challenge several years running, but this is the first time I actually finished it.

UPDATE

I spent a couple of hours trying to upload my songs to the RPM site, to make it feel even MORE official. You can’t just link out to Soundcloud or Bandcamp. They’ve made it just unfriendly enough that I finally gave up. I can’t seem to delete my account either, but I removed all the information that was up there.

I dig the idea of making a full record in February, but I cannot recommend that site until someone fixes it. What a great idea, though!

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.

Chapter One WIP

I stumbled on these old books at work. They’ve been removed from circulation, and I found this whole scene to be inspiring. I took a few – they called out to be repurposed. Objects like Altoids tins and spoons sometimes do that to me.

The audio for this piece is a collection of clips I’ve accumulated from field recordings, old tapes and found sound (literally sounds that I found somewhere and edited).

I hear each different section as though it’s a visual background to a comic panel, and that’s where the inspiration for the animation comes from.

The audio below will likely change and evolve, especially around the rhythm component. But here’s the working draft so far:

Contact Mics for Foley

My daughter and I made some contact mics, and spent an evening recording sounds in the basement of my studio. I ordered the piezo discs from amazon, and then spliced them to 1/4″ guitar cables.

We took turns recording various objects. I’ve developed a library of interesting sounds from these activities, that I can use as foley and sound effects in my animation.

It was a great deal of fun.