Archive for May, 2009

What makes a Steamdrone?

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet on 22 May 2009 by Ed Saperia
The Steamdrone (& friends)

The Steamdrone (& friends)

It is to our great chagrin that the beast that is the steamdrone is powered on the inside by electronics. It was long the intention that it be actually coal powered, but producing a reliable, let alone useful sound proved elusive, so we shelved that particular avenue of research for a while.

For those of you that haven’t had the fortune to hear the cursed thing, let me describe what it sounds like. The sound of the Steamdrone is a cross between…

The pedals on a Wurlitzer organ...

The pedals on a Wurlitzer organ...

 

A harmonium...

A harmonium...

A hurdy gurdy...

A hurdy gurdy...

 

And me playing a long bugle...

And me playing a bugle...

...at the bottom of a big staircase!

...at the bottom of a long staircase!

These sounds are all magically combined via Ableton Live, and brought forth on command via one of these:

The Sacred Alesis, touched only by The Engineer and his apprentice

The Sacred Alesis, touched only by The Engineer and his apprentice

And I was going to post an MP3 of how it sounds, but The Engineer appears to have gone to bed without sending it to me, so you shall have to wait until tomorrow for that.

Fear not though, coal boiler experiments ARE continuing, and one day we’ll have a fully functioning acoustic steamdrone for your delight and delectation…

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Book of Sand prototype

Posted in The Book Of Sand on 17 May 2009 by patrickgleeson

So on Friday I spent a few hours making a prototype Book of Sand app in PHP with MySQL (if you don’t know what those are, you probably won’t get much out of the rest of this post).

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What we (don’t) sound like

Posted in The Clockwork Quartet on 16 May 2009 by patrickgleeson

I want to talk briefly about the overall sound of the Clockwork Quartet.

In my first meeting with Ed we discussed the sorts of instruments we wanted to use. We were both clear that we wanted plenty of percussion, but that it should be unusual stuff – i.e. no drums, cymbals or the like. Joe Schermoly has been hard at work putting together an “alternative” kit for us out of scrap metal. Then accordions were an obvious choice, and Ed convinced me that plenty of banjos were the way forward. I was initially keen on a trombone or equivalent, as brass and steampunk go together like, well, steampunk and brass. However, we realised that finding a trombonist might be tricky, and it’s not quite as versatile an instrument as we needed (unless it’s played really really well), so we compromised by including the Steam Drone.

But aside from the actual instruments the show is written for, it’s easier to talk about what we don’t sound like than what we do.

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Millions coming

Posted in Millions Long on 5 May 2009 by jschermoly

So the filmshoot is this weekend and we seem to be on track to have everything ready to get in and setup the shoot during the day friday so that we can start shooting either friday night or early saturday.  We have 1200 shots to get through before sunday night so there’s a a lot to do this weekend.

But ahead of that, the arch and track for the camera is now built.  We ordered some cstom lengths of roller chain and sprockets and stepper motors to control the movement of the camera cart and the lights.  The stepper motor moves on a cylindrical series of electromagnets and through the fine adjustment of the percentages of power on the four opposing magnets, you can get the axle to step around in tiny steps, down to I think something like 2400 steps per revolution (so just a fraction of a degree).  We don’t need that kind of minuteness of scale but we are looking for a steady accurate movement of the camera along the arch and so the stepper motor will be able to do that by moving exactly 1/1200th of the circumference of the arch for each shot.  Luckily Bryan is handling all the electronics and programming, because i can only sit here and explain it to you, I can’t actually do it.

I’m also ordering materials for the landscape of our film.  We are making a homemade playdough recipe with flour, salt, oil, water and cream of tartar.  But we need to make about a cubic metre of playdough so may shopping list includes 80kg of flour, 50kg of salt and 20L of oil, and lots of food colouring.  Pretty fantastic.

We’re nearly there though and this weekend should be a blast!