Update: For those with 'not-very-broadband,' here is a smaller 23.1M WMV version. And for those who think they think different, here is a 21.8M Quicktime version. Interesting to notice the compression quality differences between the QT and WMV versions at roughly the same size source file (the WMV clip looks and sounds much better?) There is no bias here; check it out yourself.
For those who've been wondering what I've been doing while on the road during this holiday break, here is a large download of a 640x480 30fps rendering of the first three pages (first six minutes) a potential Night Wall DVD. It took about twenty hours of editing and two hours of 3GHz machine time to render this low res five minute piece. It is a 'video sketch' of sorts, although it captures a flavor of what is possible. I have 100x respect for those working full time in CG animation now that I've tasted a bit of the drudgery this medium requires. There must be a better way?
Obviously, video is a very different medium (and process) than music; so much depends upon the tools, whereas, with music, so much depends upon the subtle movements your own hands and fingers and their interactions in real time, with your history, head, and heart. Yes, tools are still involved, but for me, this 'video workflow' does not (yet) involve any real sense of 'touch' and is therefore difficult for me to feel like I'm actually 'playing' -- this is a huge amount of work, like picking up a new instrument. So here is some squeeky and squawky first sounds from this new instrument.
I'll do some additional editing over the next week, then burn a DVD to send to Duncan to see what he thinks. Now that I'm through the bulk of the learning curve, I anticipate another 40-60 hours of video work plus 3-4 hours of editing the new voice-over, and 4-8 hours of DVD production should bring us to a full v1 DVD.
I've added some 'page turning' cues to the full version of Night Wall, and now I'm turning to begin work on the 'all instrumental' version and a 'spoken word' version which will all be combined for the final CD/DVD combination. I've also gone back and cleaned up some of the pitchy vocals that had been captured as first takes where the words poured directly into the (largely improvised) melodies.
In general, in my own songwriting, the music generally comes first, then words appear in response to the music and flesh out the song. I'm amazed at how these words, written by Duncan without music in mind, morphed magically into these melodies in and on the backing tracks of this music. To my ears, it sounds almost as if they were written together. The melodies of each section seemed to pour out as if they were simply already there waiting for me to discover them within each page.
Perhaps the real 'test' will be to see how this works for those reading Duncan's book Night Wall while listening to the music. I'm too close to the whole thing to really know what that will be like for someone who has seen or heard the words or music. It's an unusual and powerful story on it's own, but, as is usually the case with artists and their art, I actually have no idea how or if the music complements or works with the book. But, that's not really my concern at this point. In this, like most of my work, I'm simply following my instincts and trusting that the muse on the delivering end knows what she's doing.
* * *
One more highlight of the late afternoon: a quick call from Paul Richards about potential use of 'The Marsh' in a project - the jury is out until the new year. But great to hear his voice.
* * *
Tomorrow Afternoon: part II of a KUOW interview at MS Studios that will be an interview within an interview within an interview. The primary interview will be with KUOW "Conversation" producer Jeannie Yandel, however Robert Scoble will also be there to tape the interview while we all preview an unedited tape that Pete Grondal captured a number of weeks ago with some special musical guests.
It could be iteratively mind-blowing or it could be a complete mess. Not unlike like many things I've done over the years.
Evening: Tuning the Air #37. We witnessed #1 and #4, and wow, what a difference 33 weeks has made. The troupe has worked hard and transformed the event from an experiment to a compelling show including lighting, dance, and elements of theatre. It feels to me like the first realization of Frank Sheldon's "Location Based Performance Team." Looking fwd to the next season!
* * *
I received a wonderful surprise package in the mail today from Duncan Weller including his DVD portfolio complete with early Night Wall, Space Snake, and Boy from the Sun animations. Wonderful stuff including some new clippings, history, an original print, and the excellent letter I mentioned here recently.
* * *
The new Death Cab is now in heavy rotation in the car. News today: they are releasing 12 new videos, one for each song on the new CD; each done by a separate director; none featuring the band. Fabulous idea that extends the 'story song' metaphor into a new (visual) dimension. And they will be on SNL in January. I love seeing excellent but unlikely music and musicians do well.
This is one of the hidden benefits of widespread roll-out of technology: we all have the ability to become 'artists' w/o the previous huge barrier to entry: cost. Now (and perhaps before as well) the only real 'excuse' for not making our own music, videos, paintings, is our own motivation, taste, time investments and day to day decisions we make rather than the previously intimidating deterrent.
I wonder when the first 'hit' feature film shot by a guy with an HD camcorder and edited on a personal computer will break-through?
This is clearly 'scaffolding' waiting to be reborn as a vocal song later this week. In the meantime, it's a next step and a move into the suburbs after Fly By 3. I'll stitch the four Fly By's together later this week as well for a preview of the first two pages.
* * *
Earlier: a pleasant afternoon meeting Travis and Paul to discuss 2006 over more pizza than we ordered. Planted some seeds for January and February and delivered some Christmas presents. Then, dinner with ReeGee, Bill and Donna at Matador, Ballard.
Third sketch in the series: this is one quarter of page 2 of 24. And even a few weeks later I still don't know the artist's name, title of the book. Now, back to Night Wall for completion before the end of the year. And looking fwd to a meeting with Travis and Paul on Sunday to discuss 2006 over pizza. Dan will be out of town, but we'll also be discussing his proposal for a SBRS recording weekend in February.
Second sketch in the series: this is still page 1 of 24! I still don't know the artist's name or title of the book, but even on day two, it's still a stunningly huge undertaking. I plan on executing three sketches to test the waters with the publisher, then it's back to Night Wall for a couple of weeks for completion before the end of the year.
This is a second, alternative rendering of the song 'Thanksgiving Day' -- this second version is partially inspired by the Duncan Weller letter I mentioned yesterday in which he eloquently describes the overall positive and uplifting energy in the music of Yes compared to more cynical, occasionally even negative, energies sometimes associated with other well-known progressive groups. Here's my own v2 with a slightly brighter spin than the first version.
thanksgiving day II
I can love anyone
rainy day shiny sun
I can love anyone
I can be anything
sinner chooser winner loser
corny cob music snob
famous guy secret spy
artist freak crazy fling
I can be anything
I found my religion: a practiced exactness inside
no room for uncertain diversions designed to divide
my time with confusion, illusion or cynical friends
out forging fine fossils for future museums
you can be anything
holy ghost talk show host
you can do everything
draw dance practice play paint sing
you can love anyone
rainy day shining son
you can love everyone
we have the potential essential enabling tools
to unblock the freedom to fly when we run out of fuel
while sharp as a cactus, well-practiced and well on our way
to plug into music on thanksgiving day
count your blessings everyday and sing your own song in your own way and
don't discount your voice your power bring your song out of the shower
turn your doubt into decision love and live your own religion
put your heart in what you do and music will take care of you
A sketch for a new potential project. I don't even know the artist's name or title of the book, but it's a stunning and huge new undertaking. This is simply a sketch to test the idea of 24 pages of arial images that unfold endlessly + music that does the same. The song tile shown here is only 1/4 of page one.
* * *
Speaking of stunning inspirations, I received two new sketches and a wonderful letter from Duncan Weller who wrote to me as part of a class he is taking. The letter is insightful and intense. I may even see about sharing part of it here if Duncan feels comfortable with that.
Meantime, I'll be doing final clean up of Night Wall next week before a five day holiday break in a week or so. I've been experimenting with Night Wall in three forms: a) instrumental only, b) with spoken vocals, c) with sung vocals. The ideal release would be a CD with all three on one side and a DVD version on the second side of the disk.
The last 10% of any project always seems to take 50% of the timeline, and 80% of the energy required for completion.
peek around from your comfy chair
look away if you get too scared
don't look down cause there’s no ground here
to catch us when we fall
good night sleep tight, all will be alright
with one hand on the throttle and one hand on the bottle
we move into position committed to drive this down
red arrows painted on the floor
neon exit signs on every door
we studied every looping tape
studied every fire escape
we’re circling the wagon and packing up the big gun
and when it all is said and done
we’ll set along with the sun
let's not watch this molehill erode
while conventional weapons explode
let's get this closing show on the road and chalk one up to goodbye
the sorrow in these glasses drowns every hour that passes
but foremost in my vision are subtraction and division
the closet or the shower
the basement or the tower
are these the only choices now?
the only song our voices know?
you found it so delicious when I’d whisper something vicious
and plot some great disaster while washing up the dishes
back planted in the saddle and one eye lost in battle
before last drops of blood grow cold let’s get this show on the road
can’t you feel the mountains erode
unconventional weapons explode
let's get this closing show on the road
peek around from your doctor’s chair
call my name if you get too scared
don't look down 'cause there’s no one there
to pick you up when you fall