June 5, 2014

GoPro Makes Music

Or helps to make music, anyway. The fun begins at about 33 seconds.

permalink | June 5, 2014 at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 4, 2014

In The Tradition Of Baseball And The U.S. Navy

Watch for the cameo appearance by the American flag.

permalink | June 4, 2014 at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2014

Do you suppose...

...that Donald Sterling is bothered to learn that his L.A. Clippers, which have been in existence since 1970, is worth only two-thirds as much as Dr. Dre's Beats Music which has been around since January?

permalink | May 29, 2014 at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2014

Better Late Than Never?

This link will put you at the 44-second mark in the song Taurus by Spirit - produced in 1968. Just give that a listen.

Having given it 43 years of thought, Spirit is suing Led Zeppelin.

Randy California, who wrote Taurus, died in 1997.

permalink | May 17, 2014 at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2014

At The Austin Reggae Fest

A video from a rare and dedicated videographer. Some young, not bad looking guy got totally naked at the Austin Reggae Fest. "B2TheJ Howard" captured good clear video for more than 5 minutes. The nudist seems to be happy and in good spirits, but as you watch you'll see him touch women who do not want to be touched and at one point he walks backward across somebody's blanket and just rudely kicks something out of the way.

When the cops finally showed up and the naked guy took off running, our videographer chased along, still getting good video! Go to 3:10. Notice the dude (that is the correct technical term) sitting in the chair just inches from the wrestling match between the cops and the naked guy. Everybody else has cleared back away, but he stays seated. What is that on his lap that is so valuable?

Austin Reggae Fest
Austin Reggae Fest closeup

I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment if I tell you the doper spilled none of his weed and went home a free man. The naked guy did not enjoy similar good fortune.

permalink | May 12, 2014 at 08:13 AM | Comments (3)

May 7, 2014

Elcaset and DCC

I never heard of these formats. I guess I was busy with something else. Elcaset was in the late 1970s. DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) was in the early 1990s. Here's an interesting video explaining both formats.

permalink | May 7, 2014 at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2014

"Koyaanisqatsi in 5 minutes"

For those who have never been able to commit 86 minutes of their life to watching the full movie but were curious about the visuals, here ya go. It seems to include all the scenes in the film, but that is not the soundtrack...although it is by Glass.

You can hear the original soundtrack here.

Inexpensive digital photography and remote control copters have made many of the effects seen in this film almost ubiquitous. The film was released in 1982, shot entirely on film (what else?) and no CGI. At the time, there was nothing else like this of similar length.

permalink | April 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2014

Coachella Ain't Burning Man

Like you didn't already know, take a look at this. $799 is effectively the cover charge to be allowed to belly up to the VIP cash bar. BYO ice & cup? Probably not.

permalink | April 12, 2014 at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2014

The Complexity Of DJing At Burning Man

Promoter and DJ Papa Lu describes the multiple hurdles that must be jumped before being permitted to DJ on the playa:

You're also part of a Burning Man camp called The Kazbah. Is it refreshing for you to book acts and DJ without all the politics of the music industry?

For me that's one of the best parts of Burning Man. When it comes to big DJs playing our camp, or any camp for that matter, there are no contracts or agencies involved. It's just like "Hey, it would be really cool if you came over to DJ at our camp! We would all really like that." And if they feel up to it, then they do it. That must be amazing for those DJs too, because at some point, for every DJ, it wasn't about the money -- it was about the love of DJing, and the chance to share amazing music. Burning Man provides that opportunity, and I think that's why it has become such an influential part of the house music scene today. The Kazbah randomly ended up having Dubfire of Deep Dish play our camp on the final Sunday afternoon at Burning Man. I also watched Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler play back to back sets for about ten consecutive hours hopping from camp to camp. If you are really into dance music, this type of surprise is really special.

permalink | April 11, 2014 at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2014

GoPro For Music

When GoPro sponsors your band you can end up with a video like this:

The quadcopter goes unmentioned because they are mostly promoting some new mounts for musical performance: the $15 microphone mount and a new sticky mount that is less sticky ($20) so you can peel it off your guitar without damage (or with acceptable damage).

They don't show it in this video, but a new item that is obviously developed especially for music fans (although I'm sure musicians could use it too) is the Blackout Housing ($50) which is intended to make your use of a GoPro camera more discreet by covering everything in matte black except the lens and the front display...and it comes with a little insert to cover that display too.

Look in the comments on the YouTube video and you'll see that this video seems to have convinced the venerable WGBH to spring for a GoPro. Actually, I'm a little surprised it took so long.

permalink | April 7, 2014 at 02:53 PM | Comments (2)

March 27, 2014

I Overlooked The Day Of Happiness!

Who knew that March 20 was the United Nations Day Of Happiness (that link is slow as hell for me)? That sounds like something the UN could actually handle, as long as you don't ask anybody for specific information about what makes them happy. "Taking Crimea makes me happy!" said one permanent member of the Security Council. I'm looking forward to the United Nations Day Of Arguing and Pointless Mulling. That should be even bigger.

But screw the UN, the big thing on March 20 was Pharrell's Happyday Supercut with people dancing to Happy all over the world, especially not in Los Angeles. You might want to skip the first 35 minutes, unless you really want to listen to a message from someone wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses who is not a cop.

Was that a real Cardinal? Did you notice how they lowered that saturation a bit so it didn't look exactly like the original?

Brazil gets its own version. They've got ancient Roman aqueducts in Brazil. What's the story behind that?

Pharrell did a special shoutout to Anarctica, so here's their video...which features the only identifiable GoPro footage I've seen in any of these.

permalink | March 27, 2014 at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2014

That Other Burner Music

David Blink said:

I've always been a fan of wandering in the deep playa and the musical encounters have been highlights of my Burn. I decided I would go out each night to the deep playa and perform improvised music at different art installations. My gift back to the audience would be gifting that actual song to them post-playa through my SoundCloud page.

The playlist is here. Twenty, uh, tunes, all freely downloadable. Adds up top an hour and 48 minutes of music. No techno, dubstep or any o' that. (Not all are MP3 - some are AIF, some M4A).

Here's one:

If you like that here's his 5-tune playlist from 2012.

permalink | March 20, 2014 at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2014

Na Nachs

Why are these people not coming to Burning Man?

Story here.

In a sense, the Na Nach are very traditional. They keep strict religious rules about diet and modesty, for example. But in most other ways, their religious style diverges from other Hasidic groups. Shaul Magid, a scholar of Hasidic Judaism from the University of Indiana, says while most Orthodox movements focus on reading and studying, the Na Nachs are more interested in having intense, personal and ecstatic experiences with God.

"...the truth is almost none of the Na Nachs use drugs." Almost.

permalink | March 15, 2014 at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2014

Led Zeppelin Reissues

June 3, 2014. That's when Led Zeppelin will release remastered versions of these albums: Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, and Led Zeppelin III. These will be deluxe editions that include previously unreleased outtakes and a lot of other goodies. Amazon pre-orders:

  1. I
  2. II
  3. III

permalink | March 14, 2014 at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2014

PONO

FLAC is Free Lossless Audio Codec which is used for lossless audio compression. MP3, the most popular audio compression, is lossy; analogous to jpeg for images which is also lossy. FLAC comes from Xiph.org who also gives us Ogg Vorbis, a lossy audio compression scheme.

But an iPod cannot play FLAC files (or Ogg Vorbis, for that matter). Instead, they can play Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC).

On the scene comes PONO (which seems usually to be all upper-case, even though it's not an acronym). PONO is a portable music player from the Neil Young that will play FLAC files. It will also play ALAC, mp3, WAV, AIFF, and AAC. Besides the hardware they will also create the PONO music store, because iTunes does not offer files in FLAC format.

I know I couldn't hear the difference between an MP3 and any lossless format, but I also know some people can.

There's a Kickstarter. Mr. Young set his goal at $800,000 and has raised $2,600,350! They still accept contributions. For $300 you will be permitted to buy a PONO player for $300, which is $99 less than the expected retail price of $399. I see there is a Willie Nelson version that you can get with a $400 pledge. I wonder at the possibility that some of the musicians in that video were enjoying some enhanced listening. Regardless, with a $400 contribution you get a customized celebrity PONO player. Do the arithmetic, this is $200 less than the total expense of the $300 contribution ($300 contribution + $300 PONO player), and for that you get a chrome PONO player laser-engraved with the signature of Willie Nelson (or Tom Petty or James Taylor or Patti Smith or Beck or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Herbie Hancock or others!). The top pledge of $5,000 would have gotten you a dinner and listening party with Neil Young and one night's stay at the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton, but those are sold out.

The PONO player will have 64GB of storage plus you can add a microSD card up to 64GB. An iPod Classic holds 160GB. But if you are the sort of person this device is being marketed to, you will not mind carrying a separate (multi-)terabyte USB drive in your car for the portion of your collection of FLAC files that will not fit in 128GB.

There's a discussion here about sources of lossless music. Even if you make an FLAC file from one of your CDs, the quality can be no better than what was on the CD. What you want is access to music that hasn't gone through the CD process yet. Ideally, you'd like the raw data from the recording studio, but you're probably not going to get that. One person suggests "Take a look at hdtracks.com, itrax.com, eclassical.com, and beatport.com for examples."

The PonoPlayer has two output jacks. The first is a normal mini-stereo output specially designed for headphones and is meant for personal listening. The second is a stereo mini-plug analog output specifically designed for listening on your home audio system, in your car...

Can anybody give me a clue as to what a "normal mini-stereo output" and a "stereo mini-plug analog output" are and what their differences might be. Can't find either term here. Searching for both terms at Monoprice doesn't help me. It sounds like, and in the photos it looks like, two 3.5mm output jacks. Period.

permalink | March 13, 2014 at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 11, 2014

Visitors At Cinémas Palme D'Or

10:45 AM every day until...? Who knows, maybe only a couple more days. Probably not 4K, but if you go see it get back to me about that.

The video above is only 480, so you're getting less than one-eighth of the data. It's like the visual equivalent of Cliffs Notes.

permalink | March 11, 2014 at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2014

Opulent Temple Returning To Burning Man 2014

After a one-year hiatus Opulent Temple will return to Burning Man this year. No word yet on what their design will be like, but I think we can be sure it will be neither small, quiet nor dark.
Video shot in 2012.

Opulent Temple podcasts if you want a lot more music.

permalink | March 7, 2014 at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2014

Visitors in 4K

Yesterday I saw Reggio's Visitors and am happy to report that it is much more than faces sliding across the screen, right to left. There are images of urban structures, nature scenes, a cemetery, crowds of people and the moon. I missed whatever credits that might have explained the source of the moon segments. Did Reggio (or one of his many producers) pay to have a 4K camera mounted on a lunar orbiter?

There might have been only a dozen people in the theater, but no one got up to leave when the credits started rolling. I don't think I've seen that at any other movie unless some celebrity was there to speak to the audience afterward.

The NY Times loves it with 5 stars. Roger Ebert liked it enough to give it 4 stars, but he needs to wipe his glasses. He thought the crowd scenes showed "a rush-hour crowd in a major metropolis." The scenes were shot in a studio and the clue to that is the people in the crowds are the very same people we see in individual close ups. Ebert also thought he saw "An inflatable dummy flops around on fan exhaust, presumably stationed outside some car dealership or strip mall lot." It was a crash test dummy that was being shaken around...probably in a studio. The background for all the studio scenes are solid black. The LA Times was not impressed and gave it 2½ stars. Calum Marsh at the Village Voice hated it so much he spent the first four paragraphs of his seven paragraphs re-reviewing Koyaanisqatsi which he also hates. Possibly Marsh was traumatized as a child while viewing Koyaanisqatsi and hasn't gotten over it. "Visitors is a dull etch of digital blacks and grays." I did notice one credit for a "Colorist" at the end of the movie. I guess making sure your black & white is perfect would also require a colorist...at least in Hollywood. There probably is no separate category for a "Grayist."

4K resolution in Visitors is like taking the very best black and white photos you have ever seen that were shot by experts using a medium or large format film camera (I'm talking like Ansel Adams or the photography in National Geographic or some photos in old Life magazine) and then you blow those photos up to cover an entire wall and new detail appears to you. Early in the movie individual faces gradually appear in a slow fade up (is that the right term?) from a solid black screen. Gradually each face becomes completely clear and you think you're there...but a few seconds later you realize the image is getting still more clear as smaller and smaller details emerge. It's like somebody wiped the dust and grease off your HD TV screen and you realized you had been missing half the picture.

This Youtube video purports to be available in 4K, but you need a 4K monitor to appreciate it. And even then it will have undergone some compression, I'm sure, before becoming available on Youtube. Or, you can buy Timescapes. Soon 4K streaming will be available from Netflix for those who have 4K TVs and a 15.6Mbps connection. The video on the film's official website is far short of 4K.

Visitors is at the Landmark NuArt Theater in L.A. until Thursday February 20. It will continue to be shown in the U.S. until as late as the end of April 2014 in Williamsburg, Virginia. After that, maybe you'll have to wait for Netflix to stream it.

permalink | February 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2014

It's The Swedes

These Swedish Marines are operating two or three planes higher than our own American military lip-sycnhers. We must close the lip-synching gap!

permalink | January 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2014

Reggio Again Again Again Again Again Again

Visitors - with Glass again again again again again again.

If you loved the 'Qatsi trilogy (or some part of it), you'll pay money to see this too.

Variety says it had a world premiere in September 2013, but it's only hitting theaters now (or tomorrow).

More than ever with Reggio’s oeuvre, the viewing experience here requires patience as well as an openness to contemplation. The swelling, repetitive structure of the music works hand-in-hand with the visuals to facilitate this shift to a different level of consciousness, but what it’s all about will remain a matter of individual associations and connections. Walkouts and snores are to be expected, although those on the film’s meditative wavelength will be held rapt.

This is your chance to see real 4K in a cinema. "Far ahead of the curve technically, the pic requires 4K digital projection, which will provide 4,000 pixels of visual resolution as opposed to the 1,000 pixels of standard HD."

The earliest, closest regular showing that I could find will be at the Landmark NuArt Theatre on February 14. BUT LACMA will be hosting a FREE (did I say free? Yes I said free!) showing on February 6 which "includes a conversation with director Godfrey Reggio." When I first read that, I assumed it meant Mr. Reggio would be at LACMA to speak. But it doesn't actually say that. So maybe the "conversation" is an interview that has already been filmed, or maybe Mr. Reggio will Skype in from somewhere else, or maybe he will really really be there.

Here's the website for the movie where you can get a list of opening dates for several cities. It won't open in Boston until March 14 at the Kendall. Wow, what did Boston do to piss somebody off? Or maybe, since it's nearly at the end of the schedule of showings, they hope to be able to park it at the Kendall and show it for months and months and months. It is Cambridge, after all.

Check this out, IMDB lists 11 people with "producer" in their title for this film: 3 associates, 2 executives and 6 plain ol' producers.

According to the Wall Street Journal it was edited on some Macs:

To realize Mr. Reggio's vision on a $6 million budget posed a series of challenges, not only in the digital manipulation of nearly all the images, but in generating the final product in higher resolution. "We hot-wired the Macs to deal with the tremendous amount of computing power we needed," said [film editor Jon] Kane. "There's no one crazy enough to do that."

That would have been before the latest Mac Pro came out. I don't know exactly what hot-wired Macs would look like. It makes me think of battery cables and a dirty screwdriver.

The review in the NY Times reveals that the film is not 100% face shots.

The human faces are contrasted with recurrent images of an abandoned amusement park and of a large, empty building that resembles an institution of some sort. There is a sequence, filmed in Louisiana bayou country, of trees growing in water. Shots of the moon's pockmarked surface suggest that "Visitors" is a journey to the moon and back. The title evokes science fiction, and the gorilla echoes "2001: A Space Odyssey."

permalink | January 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)