Mac Pro Video

 Art, Education, Music  Comments Off on Mac Pro Video
Sep 152014
 

I own a couple of Macs, but the newest one is a Mac Mini from 2006 or so. So why did I sign up for Mac Pro Video? Well, it wasn’t for Mac-anything. I found a good deal on their site– $15/month for as long as I want. And since I also finally bit the bullet and signed up for Creative Cloud, MPV looked like the best compromise for me.

I’m really into music production, but I’m also really into visual arts, web design, and programming, even. MPV has some absolutely awesome video series on music production, covering not only theory, but also DAWs, and some of the harder-to-get-used to plugins. And while there are a lot of great dudes on YouTube with great info, MPV has some great tutorials. I especially loved their series on Ableton’s Push.

And now that I’m getting in to Creative Cloud, the tutorials should come in handy, ├é┬árather than spending a couple of hours trying to find good YouTube videos. It should be a nice complement to Pencil Kings. (The Photoshop tuts there were great, as are a few of the drawing tuts I’ve been working on.)

All-in Ableton, Reaktor, New Graphics Tablet

 Art, Music, Technology  Comments Off on All-in Ableton, Reaktor, New Graphics Tablet
Jan 152014
 

After spending some time getting used to Live, I had a tough decision to make: Standard or Suite? The 20% off sale was going to end soon, and as much as I like the Intro version of Live, it’s not enough for what I want to do. The difference between upgrades wasn’t much. Max 4 Live is part of what pushed me over into getting the Suite. There are other reasons, too.

Downloading everything took 5 hours or so. My Internet connection isn’t the greatest in the world.

Reaktor

A lot of what I was doing while I was downloading/installing Live was learning how to program in Reaktor. There are a lot of really good tutorials out there on building synthesizers in Reaktor. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. I found a really good five part tutorial here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

Once I’m done getting comfortable in Live, I’ll start learning Max, too. That also looks really interesting.

My Poor Dead Graphics Tablet

After 12 years of faithful service, my ancient Wacom Intuos 2 graphics tablet has bit the dust. I replaced it with an Intuos Pro, the medium sized one. I was tempted to get the large, but the medium is about the same size as my old one.

I love the wireless connectivity. That’s really cool. But I read a lot of horror stories about the wonky USB solder connection, so I took out $3 of insurance on eBay, and bought a short USB connector cable that will connect to the troublesome port. I can just tape the cable down to the side of the tablet, and connect the charging cable to the short cable. That way, I won’t put too much stress on that port by plugging/unplugging the USB cable to recharge it.

You can get the small connecting cable here.

I also like the buttons, especially the way you can lock the tablet down to one monitor or another, which is handy for keeping perspectives right. (The tablet to monitor ratio thing. It can get too weird otherwise if you’re using two monitors.) My favorite button is the one that lets me use the control wheel to change brush sizes on the fly. That’s invaluable.

I’m not so fond of the feel of the surface of the Intuos. It feels… weird. I prefer the feel of my old Intuos 2 better. I’ll get used to it.

Monitor Stand is Done!

 DIY, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Monitor Stand is Done!
Jan 142014
 

It only took a month to finish it, but the monitor stand is done. It’s five feet long by one foot wide, with a couple of one by fours supporting it in the middle, and two screwed-together one by fours on each end. It’s sturdy as heck.

Painting it is what held everything up.

It’s been so ridiculously cold here that it’s been too cold to paint. I’ve been using spray paints, too, and they’re even fussier about having temperatures well above freezing.

I started with a simple grey primer, then added two coats of black satin, but it just didn’t do anything for me. It looked very “meh.”

Then I remembered an old woodfinishing project from years gone by. I finished a small 3-legged table with a nice black top, and faux stone legs. The faux stone effect came right out of a spray can.

So I went looking for more of that stuff. It’s been at least ten years, but I figured I could find it somewhere. I did. It was at the last place I checked. It’s a muted Black/White/Grey faux granite look that’s kind of muted. It also needs to have a clearcoat sprayed over it, so it will hold up better with time.

It took me two days to apply the paint, and one more to apply the clearcoat. Now it’s sitting in the garage, off-gassing. I’ll leave it alone for a few days, because I don’t want the house to stink, and I like my brain too much to melt it with the various chemicals in the finishes.

But it looks smashing! The faux-stone spray hides anything I may have screwed up well.

And it’s not made out of cheap MDF that will sag in a year. It’s made out of good old southern pine.

Would it have been cheaper to just buy the stand on Amazon? Well, yeah. It would have been faster, too. But my stand looks really cool, is a custom fit to my desk, and won’t sag. The finish has a rough bumpy stone feel, even. No regrets!

Piano class has also started up again. I’m still terrible at piano. When I get the stand in place, I should be able to practice more.

Also, Push is still fun, although I’ve been using it so much, my fingers are starting to hurt from thwacking the pads so much.

Push or “What Happened to Today?”

 DIY, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Push or “What Happened to Today?”
Jan 102014
 

I went with Ableton Push. I saw countless videos, read a lot of stuff on all kinds of forums, read all the marketing info, and in the end, I decided on Push over Maschine, mainly because 64 > 16. Well, not just that, but the scale mode in Push really excites me.

Maschine looks like something I may get down the road, especially because it’s really good at tweaking Native Instruments’ Komplete programs, and it has a really nice patch browser.

My Push showed up today, so I installed Live, started messing with Push and Live, and subsequently lost track of several hours just messing around with the scale mode in Push using a plain piano patch.

Oh, about Ableton Live: that’s a nice piece of software there. I had a lot of fun messing with it, too. I like how the tutorials are merged in with the software from the get-go. It made me feel like I could make music right from the start, or just perform with it. Everything feels easy.

I’m still trying to decipher everything about Live and Push, and that’s going to take a while, because I have a ton of other things to do, but I’m excited.

Also, my music composition class starts up again tomorrow. I need to start getting back into composer mode, and get rid of the holiday-induced G.A.S.

The monitor stand is progressing, too. I went and touched up some of the areas with wood filler in them, and sanded them down. I’ll start spray painting the whole thing black this weekend. Primer first, then black.

Reason Book and Other Stuff

 Education, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Reason Book and Other Stuff
Jan 052014
 

I’m starting to finally feel better. Well, except for the coughing that comes out of nowhere. I’ve heard that this cold takes a while to get over. Yay.

My Reason book showed up today. It’s huge! The type is kind of small, but the way it’s laid out, if it was published traditionally, this would easily go over 1000 pages. As it is, it comes in at around 356 pages or so. Lulu did a great job binding it, and color really makes a big difference– there are a lot of illustrations, and each one is sharp.

I haven’t had time to read the whole book yet (I just got it!), but I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with it.

Push or Maschine? Argh!

I’m still looking a lot at Push and Maschine as well. I’m leaning heavily towards getting one of them to speed things up. Since I’m not only using Reason, but also VSTs, I’m looking for something that will improve my workflow. I’m also looking for something that will help me come up with wild and crazy ideas.

Maschine has some nice features. It integrates really well with Komplete, and has an awesome preview method. But it looks like it’s geared more towards sampling, and I’m not really into that. I’m more into straight composition and using instruments, in which case Push looks much more attractive.

Push supports Live and Live Suite instruments natively, but Komplete and other third party VSTs don’t have that kind of deep support. I understand why. There’s also a third party solution that lets Push owners tweak the heck out of it so it’ll work better with third party VSTs and other DAWs as well.

I’m very glad that Ableton didn’t turn Push into a black box you can’t tinker with. I think it’s good that they welcome third party software. If anything, it should help sales.

I’d say the only bit I’m not looking forward to is configuring everything. Whoa. I sound like I’ve bought it already. I’m still thinking. It’s a lot of money.

Push Off to Asheville

 DIY, Music, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on Push Off to Asheville
Dec 192013
 

I’m heading to Asheville to help the folks out for Christmas, so I’m gone for a while. I may or may not update, depending on whether anything interesting happens or not.

The monitor stand isn’t done yet. I’ll finish it when I get back. It needs more wood filler in a couple of places, and I need the weather to cooperate so I can lay down a finish.

Ableton Push

Ableton has a big sale on all of its software going on. I’m really interested in Push, though. I’ve been watching a lot of videos to see how it works, and how well it works, and it looks damn sexy. Of course, Maschine also looks sexy, but Push looks like it’s more up my alley, because it does scales. Lots and lots of scales.

I’ll need to do more research, though. Getting into Push is another $600, and if I decide to move to Ableton as a DAW, that’d be more money out for upgrading to Standard or Suite. We’ll see.

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