This is the portfolio/blog of Lucas McCalllister, producer, audio engineer, and academic. I write here about ongoing projects, and comment on the industry. It's also the home of my portfolio. If you're an employer or client, take a look at that. Let me know you're looking, and I can provide you a password so that you can look at the copyright protected content.
This image pretty much sums it up.
I realized recently that I hadn’t put in a lot of work on my two Ardour projects. This is partly because I have a part time job that was working me full time for awhile, but there was something else to it, too. I dreaded working on them. A file which had become corrupted and stalled the mixing of a project had left me at a dead end in one, and in the other, the process of trimming audio and getting it to match the video had become so tedious that I simply just didn’t enjoy it anymore. And I typicall enjoy the tedium of work like that – there’s something kind of Zen about it to me.
While I still stand by the fact that Ardour is miles ahead of any other open source DAW I’ve tried, I must say it is unusable for regular stable audio production. And that’s okay – I want to see Ardour become better. To a degree, instability and the need for workarounds is somewhat expected in the land of open source. But in the meantime, it has a lot of stability issues to work on. Its interface has drastically improved between 2.x and 3.x, but the tools within it could still use improvement. Trimming is clunky and I’ve had tons of problems with plugins crashing (which I’m not even sure if the problem is Ardour in that case). When editing an 18+ track session on a laptop, I began to hear…
I’ve been working with WIDB Alum Tony Youngblood of Theater Intangible and his crew, preparing for the Circuit Bender’s Ball here in Nashville.
If you aren’t familiar, it’s a big ol’ event about Circuit Bending (let’s take electronics and repurpose them sonically though modification), complete with 2 stages, over a dozen acts, workshops on circuitbending & DIY electronics, and some interactive Art. I’ll be running sound there, and I’m assissting with a collaboration between Josh Gumiela (who helped me build Vidarr) and Kelli Hix, Curator of Moving Images at the Country Music Hall Of Fame.
The Ball itself is on September 29th at the Brick Factory here in Nashville. Workshops at 10 am, with music at 8pm.
You can find out prices and more details by reading Tony’s big post about it all on Theatre Intangible. You can also visit the Kickstarter Page to donate.
I wish I had time to do a proper post about the Superman redub project, but it’s taking a long while. It requires a lot of sound effects, and I’ve had some trouble getting enough good ones that I can use for it. I’d record some myself, but my recording facilities are…. limited at best at the moment. I’ve also got about 3 songs near mixed for my portfolio, I just have to get around to doing the final little cleanups, and exporting them. Ardour has been a bit of a roadblock in one, as I can’t port the session from 2 to 3, and in Ardour 2, the sub-channels aren’t routing correctly due to a program error that I can’t resolve.
But it isn’t all bad news. I’ve picked up an internship with Music City Roots, and it’s been a blast. I haven’t worked on a live production of this scale before, and it’s really great to hear some unique music and be a part of it. I even got to do micing for Chis Thomas King. Gibb Droll also has a new act – Eaten By Dinosaurs – that sounds great. I also found out about Jonathan Scales, so that’s pretty rad. It’s been a good time.
I’ve managed to pick up some part time work with some friends-of-friends, and I think the next month should show some new work. I’ve got some interviews late in the month, who knows where I’ll end up.
So, in an effort to make my time away from work more interesting, I’ve decided that I want to try a new DAW. I was inspired by Daniel Kimbrel’s “5 Free Audio Recording Programs that Don’t Suck” post on Audio Issues. I have Audacity, but it’s terrible for multitracking. Traverso didn’t really seem to have much going for it in my eyes. But Ardour… I kinda liked, so I dropped $20 in the donation bin and am giving it a shot over the next couple months. I’ve been playing around with Ardour for a few hours for the last week or so now. For the record, I’m using Ardour 2.8.13 on A Macbook Pro running Mountain Lion.
I’ve decided that for my review(s), I wanted to use it for my two main projects that I prefer: Mixing a prerecorded track (I have nowhere to record right now anyways) and adding sound to picture. **Note: I ended up abandoning this project due to frustrations with Ardour’s stability. Blog Post Here.**
Installation requires you to install some extras. Long story short, it’s a driver setup to hook up your inputs/outputs into the software. I used JackOSX. It’s pretty simple, and it runs a little background app call JackPilot. Once I read some manuals for all the programs involved, I started in. I also wanted to work on sound for video (For Mechanical Monsters). However, Ardour does not support video natively, and I think I read somewhere there is no intention for it to do so. However, you can also run a program called Jadeo, and simply use JACK as the sync clock, and it works just fine.Certainly, I had a busy taskbar.
An important lesson: never stop doing what you want to do for a living, even if you’re currently unemployed.
In that vein, I’m starting work today on a new project: a complete teardown and rebuild of the audio in a Supes cartoon from 1941. It’s titled “The Mechanical Monsters.” You can find it on Archive.org and YouTube. I’ve embedded it below. One of the things I noticed after my first viewing of this is how much of the cartoon is based in music. There’s sound effects for the most important visual events, but the majority of the drama is portrayed through music. Granted, some basic googling showed me that Sammy Timberg, the composer at Fleischer Studios, was a pretty talented guy, and did a lot of music around that period, so it’s no surprise that they featured his dramatic tunes so prominently in the episode. In older cartoons, before they did vocal dubbing, the whole cartoon was usually musical, kind of like a prehistoric music video. So, it may be a part of the natural evolution of cartoons on that point.
But I got to to thinking about it, and I’m curious if the transition from radio had any difference in it. In the Adventures of Superman radio play, they can’t simply have music play while Supes does his thing. Instead, they have to convey action through sound effects and dialogue – music can be cued, but it can’t be the sonic focus. When you have a visual, you can have scenes where the action explains itself, and the music can dramatically play along and accent it. I think this is really observable in the Superman Cartoon that Fleischer studios put together. Its really…