Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Distraction

One of the things that I really like to do when I need a good distraction, is to write beats. I guess the same way a guitar player would write a lick, a drummer can write a loop. So I sit down behind the kit, fire up a click track, and play some random beats.

Once it's recorded in the system, I can sample it any number of ways and add effects. In this case, the drums are essentially just raw, there's no delays, phasers, distortions or anything like that. Just a little gating ad compression. I really haven't even EQ'd much.

The loop is raw and is ready to be used by an electronic musician, or anybody who creates sample and loop based music. This loop is influenced by afrobeat and funk. Fun times!

The Video Game Blog Post

Today we had a video game designer speak to a group of CreComms about designing games. He was a developer for a small, independent firm, but had some positive things to say about big production games as well.

At the start of the presentation, he mentioned how part of his job included attending trade shows and spending allot of time with the game developer community. He mentioned one such trade show, which took place in Austin, Texas last year.

I was actually at that trade show, but for different reasons. I was actually working as the trade show coordinator and account manager for OMT at the time, and the NAB radio show was taking place at the convention center at the exact same time as the video game show.

When I first landed in Austin, the cab driver took me to my hotel, passing through a really poor part of town to get there. My hotel was really close to the convention center (something I like to do so I can walk to the show each day), so I ordered a Heinekken from room service and walked to the convention center. The actual show started on a Wednesday, but I had to fly in on Monday in order to receive our shipments, setup the booth and graphics, and setup the computer network for the demo computers we'd be using at the show.

When I got to the convention center I was absolutely blown away at what I saw. No, it wasn't the video gamer's exhibits (although, they were super cool and laid back). What blew me away was the number of refugees who had to leave the coastal city of Houston because of the hurricane, ahhh, Ike I think it was. Over the course of the week that I was there, I spoke to a ton of people whose houses had been ruined, and jobs that had been lost as a result of the damage. It was pretty epic.

Anyway, at the convention... during the two days of setup, I spent a bit of time hanging out at the video game show. My access badge for the NAB radio show looked similar enough to the ones being used for the video game show, so nobody questioned me. And, it meant that I could take in the cuisine and free booze that was being given away by the companies that were exhibiting at the show.

The radio show ended up being ok. It was one of the rare shows where mostly everything went well, and so I got to spend a good chunk of time by the pool at the hotel. I really miss alot of the people I use to see at the trade shows. When you do alot of shows, you end up seeing alot of the same people, time and time again. And those people become your "road buddies". Throughout the year, you occassionaly speak with them over the phone, or email, about business, but over the years, they kind of become your solace on the road, because it sucks being away from your home, friends and family.

Overall, I would love to go back to Austin. It's like a little blue city, inside of a red state. Their art scene is stellar, actually quite comparable to Winnipeg's scene. There's live bands playing all the time.

Here are some pictures from that trip (I smashed my head on the last day of the trade show, which explains the photo of myself in my hotel room bathroom).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Video Montage - Choice is a Weapon

I recently completed a montage for the song "Weapon" by Matt Good. The montage ended up being a great project, because I learned that I love to use a video camera. This was my first real experience with a video camera. My family didn't even have one on vacations when I was growing up (yet I still have all the memories, weird). The way the video was produced was exactly the opposite of what I had planned going in to the project.

I'm going to deconstruct how the video was produced below; here's the video;

Chris Gaudry Montage from Chris Gaudry on Vimeo.

Originally, I planned to conceptualize a story, and have actors, a storyboard, etc... As I began to plan the logistics of a video like that, things such as sets, creative shots, actors, and such, I realized how much work would have to be put into the video in order to make it a reality. Really, it wasn't necessary. The point behind the project was to develop some basic camera skills and video editing skills.

So I picked a day to shoot, and hoped to be inspired by the surrounding environment. I really lucked out, because when we showed up at the Forks, the Winnipeg Fire Department's water rescue squad were doing training exercises on the water and ice. So naturally, we asked them if we could shoot, and they said yes. It wasn't like they were trying to be discrete, they were training at the Forks on a Saturday.... good PR.

Later in the day I decided to shoot some kids skateboarding at the skate park. The first time we shot, it was really cold outside, but still lots of people. I was really impressed at the dedication of some of the kids at the park. I ran in to the same people three Saturdays in a row. If you look closely, the same guy is in my video wearing different clothes every time. He volunteered his time, I didn't plan to have him there. In fact, Mike Choi (the lead) was the only actor, and we didn't use a script at all.

I probably could have just submitted the footage that i got, with any song, and that would have been sufficient, because the footage was so interesting. But it also occurred to me that I might be able to make a story out of the footage by tying it together somehow. The idea to have Mike fall in the water seemed obvious, but the challenge was that I had to imply that he was falling in the water with the footage, because we obviously couldn't have Mike fall in the gross, freezing cold Red River (or is it the Assiniboine there?)...

Them came the idea of picking a song that would work with the footage. I originally planned to pick the song first, and try to make a story around a song. In the end, I chose a song to match the footage. Because the lead character dies in the end (or that is what is implied), it seemed very dark. Matthew Good seemed like a good choice. After all, his second last album was called Hospital Music, and was apparently written during a period MG spent in the hospital after trying to off himself. So yeah, dark.

The song has 6 main parts to it, but the last two parts (5, 6) are essentially the same as 3 and 4, so I edited the track to 4 parts (almost like movements in the song), which worked out to be just over four minutes. Once I had the track ready and imported into Final Cut, it was essentially just a matter of using the footage I had to fit the parts of the song.

The main thing I think is missing from the story are the reactions of people. I think some shots of people's reactions to the rescue would enhance the emotional aspect of it.

Now comes the part of explaining why I put my cat, well, having a bath in the credits. I am not a particularily dark person, and so I had to add some humor to it, because I though it lacked some of my own personality. And, I only get to be in college once.

I'm very excited to start work on my next project...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why I can't post my newest best friend on my blog

So, my newest best friend in the world is the latest royalty check I got from Socan, and I wanted to post a picture of it here. But it's not a check, and that's the problem.

You see, Socan doesn't cut checks on any amounts under $500. When you are typically getting payments for like $64, it's nice to get paper checks. I mean, the feeling of actually getting paid for writing music is far more attractive than the sixty four dollars. And direct deposit doesn't give that great feeling justice.

I know that the environment is in shambles, and direct deposit is far more eco-friendly and efficient. So, I think Socan should send artists emails with "soft checks" attached as PDF files; even if it increases the cost of membership.

I guess what I'm getting at is, it's nice to get recognition for your work, and in this society that usually means gettin' pizaid (I feel awkward writing that, but not enough to edit it). Being able to admire something more tangible than a bank transfer that I barely know exists, would be a welcome source of recognition for me, cause I’ve been playing and writing music for a long time.

I want to thank CBC radio1 for playing the Shouting Ground album, which I co-wrote in my basement with some awesome peeps. I listen to radio2 with Bob in the mornings and Rich on the drive, and I haven’t heard it on those shows yet. Maybe a pitch letter is in order… yah, maybe some personal hygiene is too, but CreComm comes first these days.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm gittin hitched!

This August, I am getting married. And we wouldn't be Manitobans if we didn't have a social.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a big fan of Manitoba socials. Usually, community centers make me feel like I'm at a sock hop, and the same "stuck in the middle", "brown eyed girl" and what-not songs don't do anything to inspire.

So, in honour of my wedding, my band (from years ago) are reuniting for one last time. This will actually be our ten year anniversary from the date of our first show together. It's going to be a blast!!! Hoping that by having a kick-ass rock band at the social, we will be mixing it up a bit.

There will be some aspects to the social that are similar to the regular Manitoba social; like a silent auction, and everybody's favorite midnight snack... but we are going to be posting the winning tickets for the silent auction, not buzz-killing the evening by reading out the numbers, and the food spread will surely please the huddled masses (or drunk masses for that matter).

Hoping everyone in Winnipeg can make it.

Here is the Facebook page with all the info: Fun Times

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still looking for an IPP idea? Here's one that you might like...

I have already decided what I want to do for my IPP, but I'm not short on other ideas...

KICK FM's internet stream is dead. I'm not sure of the details, but you can't listen to KICK online anymore. I know that the station does not have budget to acquire a new streaming solution at present time. The stream was previously being donated by a local company, but in my opinion, it was shifty at best even when it was up.

Since I have a reasonable amount of experience designing and selling streaming solutions to radio stations, I have a great solution, but it's going to cost some money.

Here is where the IPP idea comes in... KICK supports local musicians and bands like no other. I've seen the day-to-day play-lists, and can say that almost 1 song in 10 is a local artist. As such, it would be easy to get bands to volunteer their time for a fund raiser gig that would serve to raise money to pay for a new streaming solution for KICK.

Here are the details...

The technology part... There's a company in Edmonton, called Streamon that offers a very attractive streaming solution. They supply an appliance that encodes an audio stream, which is then sent to their servers for hosting. The company provides HTML source code for a pop-up player, which makes integrating the stream with a website, or social media sites a breeze.

The music geek part... The stream is delivered using a standard high speed internet connection. The codec that is used to compress and deliver the steam is called OggVorbis, which is a great sounding codec at reduced bit rates (which is important for keeping bandwidth usage at a minimum). The operating system on the streaming appliance uses Linux, which is the Fort Knox of operating systems both in terms of virus and hack security, and up-time, making it perfect for the college's top notch I.T. folks (even they will like it).

The business... The player costs $695 (Canadian funds) and the basic monthly hosting package is $140 (not withstanding a potential educational discount). The appliance is a lifetime lease, so if it breaks, you just send it back and they will replace it at no charge. There is a one time setup charge of $300, which is nice, cause they'll get you up and running without a hassle, or over dependence on college staff.

Not only is the system a good solution for hosting the stream, but it also offers potential revenue opportunity. The pop-up player has a banner spot which can be fed a jpg of an advertisement. And because the station uses the iMediaTouch radio software, it can be integrated with this neat feature in StreamOn. So the station could sell ads that would appear in the pop-up player. And, the player also has a spot for the album artwork, which makes it look really cool.

So, the total cost to get the stream up and running for one year is $2675. That's totally doable. That dollar amount represents roughly 500 tickets sold, at a cost of $5. And once you get people in the door, there's other fund raising opportunities (such as a raffle for a couple dozen local band's CD's). It might not happen in one show, but it could happen in two shows; and if I know the local music scene, Winnipeg bands would love an opportunity to help out. I'm sure some would even sell tickets to the event.

The politics... Aside from the obvious need to get KICK management on board (I'm sure they'd love the idea of getting their stream up and running again at no cost to them), you'd have to get approval from the college's I.T. department, because the streaming appliance would be pushing a stream from their local network (glaven!), to StreamOn's hosting server.

Revive the stream fundraiser.... This part of the IPP is organizing the gig(s). If you love to promote good causes, and organize parties, or events, this part of the IPP will be so fun!!! And organizing fund raisers is easier than commercial endeavors because you can be so shameless about promoting, because it's for a good cause.

So there you have it. You will be known as the student that REVIVED THE STREAM.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I was involved in a marketing campaign with the Red River College Students' Association, to try and get better nominee and voter turnout for this year's election. I posted a radio spot that I wrote and produced (around a week ago), which is now in rotation on KICK FM. I also mentioned that I was producing a video for the campaign, and that I would post it here.

Now, I'm not very proud of this video, mainly because I find it to be boring and drab (even though those things might be the same thing, it's worth mentioning twice).

I'm glad I did the video, because it was good writing and on-air experience, even though I have no delusions about being an on-air personality. My friend Doug from Tripwire Media Group thinks that I hate the video because I don't like seeing myself on video. He's right, but I also can't stand the sound of my own voice (at least when I can't put it in Pro Tools and work it with my magic). Also, it was the first time I’ve used Final Cut Pro, which is much more different from Adobe Premiere Pro than I was lead on to believe.

Thanks to Tripwire for donating their time to shoot the video, which took all of 20 minutes to capture. Thanks to their intern from ABC who was much nicer to work with than Doug or Dave (JK, I love you two so very much).

Here's the video, in all of it's not-so-glorious state. Please let me know what you think, even if you hate it (especially if you hate it):

RRCSA Nominations Video from Chris Gaudry on Vimeo.