Saturday 26 October 2013

Audio, Audio, Audioooooooooo: Shrinking The Big Questions

Well, I've participated in creating a radio show for the very first time. And it won't be the last. In fact, I'm hoping to create something in time for Halloween as Ben Rimes suggested (tight deadline!) So I've emailed the Talky Team and sent out a rough draft.

We had the largest Headless radio show group. Six in total. Talky Tina, Christina Hendricks, Mariana Funes, Jess Hobbs, Rhonda Jessen and myself. I joined the team because I had enjoyed discussing things with Mariana when we were zombies, knew Christina had done a brilliant radio show before for DS106 Twilight Zone and I wanted to work with Talky Tina, who as we all know is a sound goddess. Jess and Rhonda were perfect additions to the group! Both of them have great voices and are creative and clever. For such a large team, it was very easy to organize, share ideas and work together.

Mariana got the ball rolling by setting up a google doc were we all started to pitch our ideas. Mariana was so enthusiastic and organized that she had an outline of an idea already written out. We scheduled a google + hangout for the October 6th and just hashed it out. Tina even joined us! That's where I ended up with my Bossy nickname.  I said I would project manage the group (though really it was unnecessary) and Bossy was born!

We each wrote our own sections, including finding clips, background music and sounds but shared our scripts with each other for comment and feedback, which I found helpful. Everyone also did a basic edit of their own work. I looked at the cooking show as a way to hang the various ideas together so I included philosophers, Freud and DS106 riffs. It was great fun to write! I just kept editing and editing it down. When I listen to it now I can hear how a further edit would have made it even better. I based my use of sound on NPR's The Splendid Table. Listening to a few episodes helped me to understand where music was appropriate and at what level.

I sent Rhonda her section to record as she had a frantic week and she sent me all of her completed sound files. They were very clean, with only a few hesitations that I edited out in Audacity. I then amplified her voice using the amplify effect, since her voice was very quiet and used the envelope tool on mine to tone it down so we sounded like we were recording at the same time. I then created a new Audacity file for the overall project.  As we worked on the show and shared more information on the google doc the show continued to morph. Eventually, as we refined and refined again, we had a great sounding program. Christina did the final edit.

What was so great about this project is I feel much more comfortable in Audacity than I did before. I am still doing simple edits such as cutting and using the time shift tool to just make sure everything is strung along properly, but this time I also used the envelope tool more frequently as well as the effects tool. I applied fade in and fade out as well as learned to use the pitch effect to change my voice. I hunted for sound effects and music using Freesound. I was very lucky to find some great background music for the cooking show. I also used ListentoYouTube to convert video to sound and applied that to Talky Tina's closing remarks.

It was great fun to be able to talk about the show on the radio too! I still am spending time listening to the various radio shows as we all approached it from different perspectives.

If you want to listen to what we created here's the link:

I know that I am just at the beginning of my love affair with sound!

Thursday 24 October 2013

Lip dub

So I created a lip dub for the daily create. It's more complicated and less complicated than you think to do. First I had to pick a song about the radio. Thanks to my son Philip's suggestion to sing the Monty Python song "I bet you they won't sing this song on the radio", that part was much less difficult than it could have been. The song is the perfect length being approximately 1:00 minute long, is easy to sing to and has enough pauses to catch your breath. So I recorded myself singing along which took a number of takes (this is not something you can do in twenty minutes!) I used Movie Maker to edit the film. I was completely frustrated at first because I couldn't see any way to edit the film and keep it in sync with the music. Finally, I placed a picture in the front of the movie and just played with how long the picture needed to remain there before the movie started. It took a bit of fiddling but I did get it to sync almost perfectly. Loading it to youtube took a bit of work (youtube is attached to my gmail account and movie maker to my outlook account- they don't get along too well sometimes. Definitely not kissing cousins!) but I got it done.

Now for the part that doesn't make me happy. After spending quite a bit of time making sure that my singing matched the words, loading it onto youtube seems to have moved it out of sync. Oh well. Something perhaps to try again sometime. For some reason even though it has TDC642 in the title it doesn't seem to show up on the daily create.  Here's my lip dub!

The 3Ts Cooking Show: DS106 Recipe #4 Debreziner Sausage with Salsa Cruda Dessert: Honey Apple Pie

Welcome to the the Three Ts Cooking Show where we explore taste, texture and thyme, because we always have time for cooking. And time for true friends! We’re your hosts, Rhonda Jessen and Karen “Bossy” Young.

Recipe #4 Debreziner Sausage with Salsa Cruda:

Serves 4-6 people
For this recipe I modified (hacked) this recipe from Fine Cooking.

4 Debrizener sausages
1lb of penne pasta
2lbs of tomatoes, chopped, with seeds removed
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup virgin olive oil (good quality)
salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Combine all herbs, vegetables and oil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. If you want to change the flavour profile a bit you can also drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the tomato mixture.

Put the pasta water on and salt the water if preferred. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Warm the sausages on the stove until heated thoroughly. Debreziner sausages are already pre-cooked. Remove from the stove, slice thinly and add to the salsa cruda.

Drain the pasta, shake to remove the excess water and add to the salsa cruda mix. Stir and serve.

Honey Apple Pie:

This recipe is from Margo Oliver's Weekend Magazine Cookbook published in 1967. Truly one of the best cookbooks I have ever used. I cannot recommend this cookbook highly enough. It's so good I am attempting to find copies for each of my sons! 

Apples today are sweeter than the apples used when this cookbook was published. The apples from my parents farm that were planted over a 100 years ago are much, much tarter than today's apples. There were many more varieties and apples were a staple for both cider (hard and soft) as well as cooking. As you couldn't trust the water to drink at least you had cider, wine or ale. (Read the Pleasures of Slow Food for a great discussion on what happened to apples after WWII) So this is one of the few recipes that I cut down the amount of sugar she uses.

For the pastry, I prefer to use a food processor to cut in the fat. My hands are not cold enough to rub the fat into the flour and create the tiny fat beads that make for great pastry. And remember, resting your pastry in the refrigerator is crucial prior to rolling it out. Let it warm for about 10 minutes before you roll it out.

Standard 2 crust Pastry

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup lard or 3/4 cup shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour and salt in the food processor. Spin for 5 secs. (Or just place it in a bowl and stir with a fork.)
Cut up chilled fat and place chunks on top of flour. Pulse five times and spin for five. (Or coursely cut in the fat with knives or pastry blender into the flour.) 

Pour flour/fat mixture into a bowl and spinkle 1 tbsp of water into the flour at a time. Use a fork to mix it in until all the flour is damp. Gather into a ball and press firmly. \

Divide into two, shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Chill for half an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and let rest for 10 minutes to half an hour. 

Roll thin on a floured board or pastry board. Roll from centre rather than back and forth. Roll out until 1 inch larger than the pie pan. Lift on rolling pin and ease pastry loosely into pie pan. 

Honey Apple Pie:

Make 1 batch of Standard Pastry.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is better)
6 cups of sliced peeled apples
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup liquid honey
1 tbsp grated orange rind

Roll out pastry and place in bottom of pie pan. Mix sugar, nutmeg and apples. Place in pie pan, dot with butter.

Roll out remaining pastry and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Moisten bottom edge of pastry with water and make a lattice top with the strips, sealing them to the bottom pastry. Turn bottom pastry over the strips and flute to make a high edge. Cover edge with strips of aluminum foil to prevent browning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown. 

Combine honey and orange rind. Remove pie from the oven and pour honey minture through the openings in the lattice when the pie is baked. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.

Monday 7 October 2013

The Headless Waltz

In keeping with the Headless theme I have used Movie Maker to create a small movie. Please remember that I am one of the few people who have not succumbed to the lure of Apple so I have no iPad, iPod or any iEquipment. I also have the distressing tendency to use freeware wherever possible.
So I made my first gif a few days ago and I have received some great feedback. Thank you so much! I decided to keep on with my headless theme (and also because Halloween is coming!) Now this movie was quite time consuming to do (time has no meaning in DS106), not so much because of the level of intricacy required (though the sound was tricky) but because of the amount of videos I had to watch to find snippets for the movie. I found the Headless Horseman Disney track first and used that as my base. Disney was a master of background art and it really shows as you watch the forest as the movie unwinds. I then added the sound track. It was only at the end of the production that I noticed that somehow the last 3 seconds of the song had been loped off when I downloaded it. I could have accidentally removed it while I was working on the movie for all I know. I ended up downloading the song again, editing it in Audacity and adding it to the end of the movie. You can hear where it doesn't quite mesh. The Victorian photographs I found here. The Victorians really were a gruesome lot.

As I was working on it, I was wishing that I had constructed it differently, particularly as the sound proved so difficult to balance. If I was redoing this movie, I would strip the sound off of each piece of video prior to adding it to the movie or I would have picked an instrumental soundtrack so that the sound from each segment of video could have been heard above the music. I also ended up inadvertantly doing a lot of research on Marie Antoinette which is why you see two pictures of her. Believe it or not, the naughty picture is the first one! Very interesting reading (and probably why this took soooooo long.)

The part I like the best in the movie? Where the crickets look like they are rubbing their legs in time to the music. If I was redoing this, I would cut the movie so that every time the violins start the crickets would be rubbing their legs. Cricket music!

Friday 4 October 2013

My first gif (in a very long while!)

Well I believe I have done it. I have created my first ever animated gif for DS106 ( a very easy one I admit.) Once upon a time, there was a program called Fireworks that I did know how to use, but Macromedia was eaten up by Adobe and it disappeared. (though I have an old copy on my desktop.) Now it's been a few years since I've used that program (masking, layers, etc) but I wasn't bad at it. So you would think that I'd be comfortable wth GIMP but I am not. Not at all. I don't have Photoshop either. So it's me and And and I aren't acquainted enough yet for me to feel confident with the software yet.
But this, this was easy. Sort of. Once I got the right software downloaded and watched a video tutorial.

So originally I tried to do this in Movie Maker. I used PwnYouTube to convert the movie as recommended by the DS106 Handbook. And it was easy to make the clip. However, when you want to convert it into a loop, Movie Maker doesn't have that ability. So I searched online for something that did and came up with iWisoft Video Converter. I transferred the entire movie to the converter, followed the tutorial and voila! My first gif from a movie. The only downside is it comes with all of these lovely add ons (sarcasm!) to your web browser. If they slip past you just go into Chrome or Firefox, go to extensions and settings and remove them. If that doesn't work, you'll spend the rest of the evening like I am cleaning up my hard drive!