Day Trippers Video Montages

I’ve been going thru a bunch of video over the winter break. I cut together a couple montages of the last two Day Trippers shows, at the Crossroads back in October and at Lexington in December, to give y’all an idea of the sound in under three minutes. The Day Trippers are John Foote on guitar and vocals, Ken Mathews on bass, Rob Cassels on drums, and Yours Truly on piano and lead vocals. Enjoy!


7 Jazz West – Caught on Tape

Here’s some video of the last 7JW gig back in November. I must say it’s a darn good perfomance. The sound and picture are really good considering it’s a smartphone camera, and it still looks kinda underground and edgy. Musically there are some moments where everyone in the group really shines. Mercy Mercy Mercy, Better Git in Yer Soul, Willow Weep For Me, ah, heck they’re all good.

Seven Jazz West are: Gary Trosclair on trumpet, Rich “The Hurricane” Ferricane on alto sax, John (Yours Truly) Szinger on tenor, Rich Paginello on piano, Steve Spitz on guitar, Ken Mathews on bass and Mike Oliva on drums.

Mercy Mercy Mercy
Willow Weep for Me
Better Git It in Yer Soul
All Blues
Joy of Spring
Blues for Wood

Origami Videos

I’ve been jamming on the videos to go along with my book. I few weeks back I perfected the setup with the lighting and camera, and did a few tests to get up to speed. Now I have eighteen of twenty-two models in the can. Of course the four remaining include three of the hardest in the book. My publisher pointed out that I tend to pick the model up of the table sometimes, when executing complicated 3-D steps, and this makes it hard to see what’s going on. So I may go back and shoot some extra footage to cover these spots. I’m already shooting most models in several parts. I’m thinking I might go ahead and edit together the parts with crossfades, and while I’m at it tighten up the pacing, so I know it’ll come out the way I like it. I’d also like the improve the audio with some dynamic compression and a noise gate.

My problem now is the only video editor I have is iMovie and Quickitme, both of which kind of suck. I used to have Premier and After Effects, but that was years ago, and I don’t want to shell out thousands of bucks for a new video editor. I’m wondering if there’s a decent quality video editor out there for free, like Audacity is for audio. So far nothing has turned up.

A fun side effect of doing this video is that Michelle has been watching me, as she likes to take an interest in most of my studio things. Now she’s inspired to get back into origami, and has folded the Octopus and the Narhwal from my book. She wants to do one of my models for OBC this year.

Update Update

Been working on a bunch of things. Settling into the long winter and trying to be productive. Starting in or continuing on project that will take a while.

First off, my open mic the other night went pretty well. People told me I sounded good at least, and they like my songs. Before I’d played in a duo with Erik, but this was my first time as a completely solo artist. It’s not easy keeping both hands going and singing while no one is backing you up. Plus there’s always things on the stand the you don’t necessarily think about but you have to adjust to ont he spot: the sound and feel of the piano, the placement of the mic, the lighting. And there’s no sound check or warmup, you just go for it. Anyway I think I did pretty well.

I played two originals, Checker Cab and Get On Back 2 U. I’m trying to do one new song (as far as me performing it live is concerned) per show, and Checker Cab was it this time. On Checker Cab the left hand art in the chorus was a bit off one time thru, and I decided to skip the instrumental section in the middle for the safety of the groove. Still the vocals were strong on the groove was swinging the whole time. Get On Back 2 U went fine, no particular problems. I’m more comfortable with it, and maybe I should have opened with it but, ah too late now. When I debuted GoB2U live it was a bit shaky too, but now it’s solid and can focus on delivering a performance rather than worrying about messing up.

I can’t go to the open mic next month cuz of the kids’ school musical, but for the one after that the plan is to debut my version of Making Miles. Also gonna start looking for other open mics and try and find a rhythm section soon.

It looks like I’m mainly over the hump as far as moving into my new computer goes. It’s a Mac workstation with a great big screen, to replace my older mac workstation with a more moderately sized screen. Of course this means have to update all my software and everything. I really only use this computer for two things. One is software development on the days I work from home, and the other is music production on ProTools. The ProTools in particular took a while to migrate because of driver updates, and having to re-register all my plugins. But that seems to have all worked, and I can see lots and lots of channels in the mixer on the new screen. The last big thing remaining is to migrate my old windows partition to my new machine via VMWare. In fact I even started working on music on the new rig, add click tracks and stretching the chords on Lou’s songs. Soon hope to lay in the rhythms sections.

I’ve also been experimenting with recording video for my book. The idea is to demo folding the models. I’ve been learning more about my camera because I can use to shoot video in HD, so I want to try and use that rather than my miniDV camcorder. I’ve hooked it up to the computer and can see the viewfinder image on my monitor. I’ve also left the safety of fully automatic mode and am learning how to independently control the ISO, F-stop, exposure and focus, and started coming up with setups that work. It’s a bit tricky, because I need to be zoomed in pretty tight by still have a large depth of field. Adding more light helps. The next I’m gonna do is change my setup around so that the camera is looking down over my shoulder. For my first go I had the camera opposite me, but this made it harder to explain clearly because the audience POV was opposite my own. Also have to make sure I’m capturing good audio. I might add an external mic.

So look forward to progress on all of that and more in future updates.

Origami Video

I’ve been experimenting with making demo videos for some of my origami models. Instructional videos for origami are increasing in popularity and offer the advantage of being able to directly show complex folds that are difficult to diagram. There are a couple reasons for me getting into this now. One is for my upcoming book the publisher has requested an accompanying DVD. I’m planning on using higher-end camera for that, but for this I just used the built-in camera on my laptop, and it came out pretty well. Gives me a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. The other reason is, believe it or not, I was recently contacted by some TV producers about an origami TV show. My impression is it’s centered around giant folding completions. They asked if I could provide some video of me folding something, so here it is. I don’t know if it well ever amount to anything, but hey, you never know.

Paper Dragon

I’ve been researching videos of origami instructions in preparation for my new book, when I came across a funny thing. It used to be that when you googled “origami dragon” the first link was the diagrams for my Classic Dragon:

Every so often I’d get an email from someone asking how to do step 8 or so. The diagrams are clear, but it’s a complex move that can be difficult for someone who’s not at an advanced level or is not good a reading diagrams. I hadn’t gotten a question like that in a while, and now I know the reason why: someone video’d the step and put it up on youTube:

The video has over 8,000 hits! I’m amazed, I guess a lot of people must be folding my old Dragon. The guy has a youTube channel in which he has video clips f a number of other steps from other models:

I also came across a video for a song called Paper Dragon by a band named Moe. By coincidence I heard them on the radio the same day. This is kind of a big deal for me simply because it’s been a long time since I heard a new band on the radio that I like well enough to want to go and by their record. The group is musically adventurous, which is important to me. They have actual musically creative ideas and can play. They have a vibes player who gives them kind of a Steely-Zappa sound. Plus the subject matter spoke to me. But then I went to try and find their CD, and it looks like they’re a jam band with more live records than studio records, and Paper Dragon is a new song and not on a CD. But then where did the version I heard on the radio come from? Maybe they’re making a CD. Hope so.

The Bloody Murderer

While we were camping a couple weeks ago, the kids made a movie in one morning. It was fun watching them work it out. The dialog, the shots, the special effects (prop knives and fake blood). They all collaborated on story and characters, but the mastermind behind the project was Nick’s son Antonio, who was chief instigator, director, cameraman and editor. He’s had some experience making movies already, and has the Monster Boy series up on youTube, starring his brother Marco. The name of this one is “The Bloody Murderer”.

So a week later, he sent us links to the final result. And I must say, the kid (11 years old) has talent! The movie is really awesome. Seriously, it’s better than some of the first-year film school films I watched at NYU (and my roommate was a film student, so I saw quite a few). Antonio, keep making films!

Nick said “I was pretty amazed myself. I mean, I had NOTHING to do with this. They all pulled their talents together and executed their vision. Congrats to the whole cast and crew!”

To which Jeannie said “Nick provided the camcorder and computer. That makes him executive producer!” (Jeannie knows all about being executive producer, since she once won 10 hours of session time at a recording studio and donated it to my band, earning her a place in liner note history.)

I must say too, it’s amazing how far the technology has come. Just like in music, where you can now have a recording studio in your house, so you can also have a movie editing studio. I remember years ago watching either The Godfather or Apocalypse Now and in the bonus features was in interview with Francis Copella. He was talking about his vision for the future of film, how the technology is getting better, and someday a kid with a vision will be able to make a film and tell a story just like nowadays (this was the 1970’s) kids can pick up a guitar and start a rock band. I’d say that day has arrived.

Here are the links to the film in two parts, plus bloopers:

Origami Quartet

If you’re not an origami person you’ll probably look at this and think “what a bunch of geeks”. But I know these people and find it pretty amusing. Jason Ku, Andrew Hudson, Robert Lang and Daniel Myer perform at the 5OSME (5th International Conference for Origami Science, Mathematics and Education) banquet in Singapore earlier this month.

Rollercoaster of Cheese

A while back I thought it would be a fun idea to teach the girls how to make their own cartoons using Flash. It was a cool little project. It’s been sitting around almost done for a long while, and we finally got the motivation to finish it off. I had introduced the girls to the drawing tools before. This time once they’d made a bunch of drawings, we brainstormed a story line. We did a little voice recoding session and edited together a soundtrack to serve as the backbone of the cartoon. I taught the girls how to do motion tween animation synched to the sound. Although Michelle got bored with this part Lizzy did just fine. Here is final movie, and an alternate take.

I had a bit of trouble with the movie once I uploaded it and viewed in the browser. On some computers it the animation and the sound were getting out of sync, spoiling the effect. It appears to play correctly in the browser with the Flash Player 10 plugin, so if you don’t have it, I wrote a check into the page to prompt you to upgrade.