Tag Archives: Andrei Maberley

A good week: kick in the face to self-worth included.

It’s been a bit of a slow week — actually it’s gone by incredibly fast. So fast in fact that I’m struggling to recall what I’ve gotten up to in the last few days (I think the trip to the museum has caused some permanent damage). Nevertheless, I’ll try and flesh it out.

The majority of this week has been dedicated to putting together the content for the case studies on the Mad Scientist Tea Parties and The Edge’s Science Fair. The first of the two was the precursor to the ongoing Clever Convention series and started in the Bioscience programming period, and due to it’s positive reception was extended into Cosmology. Throughout these two periods there were six events and eight guest speakers, including a Dr Tamara Davis. Google that name if you want to give your feelings of self-worth a good kick to the face or maybe a stabbing — something violent and messy in any case. All you have to know is that she is possibly some kind of superhuman achiever and is actually an expert astrophysicist so she can locate her home planet of Krypton. I’m sorry if I come across as bitterly jealous (I am a little), but I’m definitely feeling more like ‘Let me paint you’. So, Dr Tamara Davis, if you’re reading this, how about it? Most of my work is underground, having been burnt in fires and since absorbed into the earth, but I’m currently experimenting with finger painting and Etcha-Sketch. Would love to hear from you…

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It’s a volcano…

Moving on…

The Science Fair was essentially the culminating event of the Bioscience programming period and was a day of workshops and fun, from making liquid nitrogen sorbet to the Science Fair classic — the model volcano! Other activities for the day included, bio powered racing boats, making organic fashion textiles from bacterial cellulose and DIY jewellery workshops using preserved botanic samples. There was an award ceremony for each of these activities and the evening was capped off with the final Mad Scientist Tea Party for the Bioscience period. The hardest part about writing the case studies was trying to summarise them into a Tweetable (?) blurb — I don’t think I’ve ever really had to express myself in 140 characters or less. I was still using more characters than that when I had a Nokia 3310 and the only other time that I’m forced to be concise is when I’m talking to my dog (Mum says he has dementia). All that being said, given that I’m interested in copywriting, the ability to write concisely is essential. So it’s good practice.

In other news this week, I was allowed to sit in on one of the Creative Community Computing (CCC) workshops held by Andrei, The Edge’s Outreach Catalyst. Essentially the program aims to address the digital divide, a problem that is growing between cultures regarding competency with technology. It was definitely an intimidating experience, being told that I had to put back together a computer. I never played Operation as a kid so I was at a natural disadvantage, besides that my hands were shaking and Andrei told me that if I touched a part of the CPU (which I felt 95% sure I would) it would break. But with the help of fellow intern, Sophie, we prevailed and managed to put it back together — and with two screws to spare! Yay, team!

All in all, a good week.

 


Re-Introducing Creative Community Computing

Well it’s been quite a wait, but with another round of SLQ computers being decommissioned and generously donated, it is almost time for the Creative Community Computing (CCC) workshops to kick off again.  CCC is all about bridging the Digital Divide. For a little background on this concept — here is a primer by Daniel Flood,  our Creative Production Manager and originator of The Edge’s CCC program.

 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination (1962), Arthur C Clarke

There has been a lot said about the Digital Divide; by learned people, from academics through American presidents over the past twenty years and it seems a little glib to recap in a very short time and space. To save the clicking through to another page and losing your attention — let alone momentum — following is a short summation of the thought process around the subject, some ranting between the facts and the foundation on which the remainder of the words planned for these blog entries can be built on.

The Digital Divide is the gap between the technological have and have not. It concerns itself with the inequity of access to computer technology and internet, the gap in knowledge that has developed with regards to computer technology and the resulting disempowerment which frames digital technology as sacred objects that should remain closed to the masses, rather than tools to be used and ultimately, broken.

Let me take a few moments to unpack the densely packed statement.

We live in the Digital Village, where (developed world) borders cease to have any real application. It is a connected space of democratic authorship, where all citizens have the right to speak and to be heard — reasserting that rhetoric and reality are often uncomfortable bed-fellows.

This Digital Village is a class based world where the merchant class serves as the socio-politic engine of momentum.

The Digital Divide has covered thousands of type-face pages around and about itself over the past ten years. With good cause; it’s a real issue, even in the light of falling technology prices and the onward march of Moore’s Law into its own irrelevance.

The disempowerment was not always prevalent with regards to computer technology.  In the 60s through the early 80s, ownership of a computer equated to a working knowledge of the technology. To use a computer, the user faced the command line and a need to have memorized a catalogue of arcane commands with which to make the machine dance like a proverbial monkey. It was not friendly or easy, but it was open and transparent.

The first commercially available Apple computer was a build it yourself kit, an irony considering Apple’s evolution into one of the leading industry exemplars of the closed computer system.

Times changed and the personal computer found itself in the formative years of becoming an industry distinct from the computer sciences. In the late 80s and through the turning century, knowledge of a computer’s workings was no longer a requisite of ownership. The command line gave way to iteratively richer Graphical User Interfaces (GUI), and the tinkering that typified the early days of the computer industry was first made complicated by proprietary screws and was later legally discouraged in the United States of America and effectively throughout the developed world.

Personal computing had become an industry, building obsolescence and dependence into its business model. Users are asked to trust the technologist’s wares and go about the business of consuming technology, maintenance became the realm of the authorized service technicians, disempowering the user’s capacity to maintain their consumer electronics and occasional prosecuting them for opening the beige box (IE. modifying the PS3 to run Linux, building Hackintosh systems etc).

This is not to suggest that people are not building and repairing their own computers. Swap meets held around Australia every weekend and the growth of discount hardware retailers are proof contrary, places where enthusiasts gather parts to construct their computers.

Enthusiast is the key word, not the wider community but a small human repository of the technical information. Building your own computer is not part of the mainstream. Repairing computer technology — as stated earlier — is the work of authorised service technicians. The construction of computer technology is painted as a complicated process, requiring a capacity for deep technical understanding and the qualification to call oneself a ‘nerd’.

Which is crap, ‘and anyone who tells you differently is selling you something’.

The repair and construction of computer technology are skills that should be made available to everyone and the Creative Community Computing program addresses this gap with underserviced communities in Queensland. The Creative Community Computing program works with recycled computer hardware and Free & Open Source Software (FOSS). It teaches rebuilding and repairing the hardware, installing software and engaging creatively with the computer. When the workshop program concludes, participants take the computer home with the knowledge of how to keep them in working order.

Past CCC workshops have been delivered in partnership with MDA, QPASTT, and the Edmund Rice Flexi Schools. We are looking forward to partnering with these groups again and reaching out to other communities for the 2013 series of workshops.  As every particpant leaves with a functioning computer we tend to run out of systems pretty quickly so we’ll be looking to source computers from outside SLQ.  If you have or know of a dozen or so computers laying around idle, please let us know!

 

 


Mobile Media Lab is GO!

After spending the best part of three months in The Edge’s basement, the time has come to release The Edge’s latest creation into the wild!

The Mobile Media Lab has been in development since late 2012 and has taken the combined brains of our Programming team and eaten most of  the output from our 3D printer, so I thought I’d put together a quick Q&A to introduce the project.

What is the MML?

Physically — its a box. A very strong, portable waterproof box that contains the essentials for a mobile multiuser media creation lab. The current MML spec is eight iPad minis, a macbook air, a custom charge/sync station and various other bits and bobs, software and hardware in a Pelican Storm IM2500 case.

Conceptually — to take a line from the official project outline;

The Mobile Media Lab (MML) project is run by The Edge, State Library of Queensland and aims to develop a regional model of community responsive content creation for young indigenous participants in Rockhampton, Queensland.

Practically —  it means that The Edge is outreaching to provide opportunity, expertise and equipment to do its part in fulfilling the State Library of Queensland’s mission.  Output from the MML will range from complete video and music production to digital art, storytelling, web publishing and more.

Hang on — isn’t that just a bunch of iPads in a road case? What makes it special?

While the hardware is essentially off the shelf – the key part of what makes the MML a ‘lab’ rather than just a charging box is the emphasis on multi user creation, robust media sharing, and expert devised workshops and  training programs. The lab will leave The Edge with content and workshops preloaded and expert assistance available.   And we spent a lot of design time getting everything into a carry-on size case. And printing things out on our 3D printers.

So why iPads? Why not a few laptops — surely a more productive experience? Or android tablets?

Running workshops for years on various creative subjects —  we have come to realise that a large part of almost any workshop can be thought of as ‘point and click’ time where the facilitator is going through menus, ticking boxes, opening and shutting windows. In short — dealing with the basics of a GUI and OS.   Part of the joy of small screens is that most of this has been stripped away by necessity and  the app and OS designers have thought long and hard about how best to do this. If you want to take a photo on a pad or phone device — you touch a picture that represents an camera – no mouse point, double click to open programme.  This is a trivial example — but a photo editing/retouching app like snapseed or a sound mangler like samplr make incredibly complex  manipulation of pictures and sound as close to intuitive as possible. To the point where I feel old just thinking about how hard it used to be to get these kinds of results!  It feels obvious that in a few generations time, having a screen that you can’t touch will be the unusual thing, so why buck the trend?   iOS over android was a fairly straight forward choice in the initial planning stages. Android couldn’t take the realtime audio requirements of the kind of apps we need to use. Finally, form factor and weight considerations means an iPad based lab can actively engage between 8 – 16 participants, with a carry on luggage size amount of kit.  While it is possible to carry 6 laptops and assorted support gear, or load a roadcase with a sound system into a van, lugging around so much gear is bad for our backs and eventually for the gear itself. This time we took a modular approach, built around ‘add-on packs’ that can be community sourced and provided, or even built as part of MML workshops or The Edge’s programming.

Who is it For?

The lab is part of a framework for engaging young indigenous people in media creation in regional Queensland.  Our initial engagement in Rockhampton will be based around working with Durumbal Community Youth Services, who have graciously offered their workers and facilities for us to start our workshops and training series.  Rockhampton Regional Council  and Creative Capricorn will help us put the lab into the community, supplying booking system, space to work and contact and links with existing creative types. Also ABC Open Capricornia is keen for their participants to use the lab for their various exciting projects.

Where is it going to be in use?

Currently the lab has been travelling between The Edge and Rockhampton, with a couple of excursions for testing to Stradbroke Island (working with the outstanding folk from SLQ Kuril Dhagan) and to the Mini Maker Faire in Adelaide.

What is the future?

By June this year we anticipate the MML will be in full use in the community, with all training and hand over complete, and the lab will be living in Rocky.  We will provide in-person training and continual development. At the end of the process The Edge will make freely available DIY plans to create a MML and in the process we will have moved on to Version II — stronger, faster, smarter, and maybe even smaller than before.  Along the way we will be working with other parts of SLQ

Over the next few weeks I’ll be going into details, exploring the design process, the parts, the build, the software, the apps, and the workshops – keep an eye on this space.

 

 

 

 

 

 


PT workshops…Beginner or not? 10 quick questions to check your skill level.

After being relocated to a SLQ conference room while The Edge is being refitted, all went smoothly for the 1st of the new series of workshops. Thanks to all those that came along!

This was the last of the basics workshops and everything form here on in will get a little more advanced and/or specialized. If you are unsure,  here are ten quick questions that you should be able to answer before you’ll get anything out of the next series of workshops.

Can you:

1. Create a new session at 44.1Khz, 24 bit using a default  i/o template, and save it on the correct hard drive.

2. Create, name and delete an audio track, aux track and master track.

3. Import audio into a new Pro Tools track, straight from the Finder and from the File menu.

4. Find an audio file in the region bin and in the Audio Files folder in the Finder.

5. Switch between slip and grid edit mode.

6. Set up a tempo grid.

7. Identify a tempo from one bar of audio, and set that tempo for the whole session.

8. Use tab to transient, cut, copy, paste, duplicate and repeat audio regions.

9. Record a vocal.

10. Bounce a session to disk.

If this is all a bit much and you are still looking to start from scratch, don’t despair – there are regular inductions run at The Edge, and as always, plenty of  resources on the web. Here is a few links for Pro Tools beginners.

Chris Bryant has a great introduction to Pro Tools on here.

For tips and tracks and trouble-shooting you can’t beat the DUC – Avid’s own community forums.  Its a little overwhelming at first, but if you narrow in on the platform you use (Mac/PC) and the type of hardware (PT9, LE, HD or M-powered) there is plenty of help available.

Avid also has TV site, with plenty of info(mercial) type videos, and as always there is youtube.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Caveat Remixer? The low down on remix competitions

Bored at home? Missing the awesome Edge Labs? Why not try a remix?

Laptop Rockers – probably the most comprehensive remix list site I’ve found. Gives you a short summary of the track on offer, deadlines, cost and prizes. Indie bands, bedroom producers up to major label superstars – they are all here.  If you find the choice overwhelming, how about starting with La Roux or Mos Def?

If you don’t have any software to remix on, don’t despair, some remix competitions come with their own web-based remix tools (the Nissan/LaRoux site even has simple/advanced options) or try Sony’s AcidPlanet . You’ll find  free, cut down version of Acid 7 available, and plenty of regular remix competitions from Sony artists.

If you are into the lastest underground electronic sounds, check out the FOEM contests and forums.  There are some legendary minimal/tech producers with tracks up for remix, and the contests usually last for months, so there is plenty of time to go all O.C.D over your blippy masterpiece.

Not into being competitive?  – download the parts to  R.E.Ms latest single and re-interpret the old(er) rockers (thanks Matt!). Prefer your music french and funky? Have a go at Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Like industrial gothic post rock? N.I.N has been making multitracks available for years, in all sorts of formats, for free – once you sign up for his site of course.

Speaking of free – or otherwise – some sites like beatport.com, a DJ oriented download site, charge for remix parts. Personally I think this is a great way to decide not to do a remix, but if you really want to remix Laidback Luke for $3.99 US  – got for it.

Before you go ahead and spend all your spare time mashing up a storm, three things…

You’ve gotta be in it to win it – but do it for the love.  The chances of winning any of these comps are pretty low, and its not just about skill. Judging can totally personal, or it can be a facebook style spam your friends personality contest. Remix to have fun and gain skills.

Read the FAQ and eligibility AT LEAST. Even if you don’t read the whole rules, its better to learn that a contest is only open to indigenous Venezualans before you start.

If you do read the rules, you will notice that you will almost never, ever ‘own’ the parts to the remix (unless its under a Creative Commons license of course), and have to give away ALL rights to your remix.  So if you want to mash La Roux and Mos Def together, be aware that you’re breaking both contests rules, in a whole bunch of ways.

Sure, Danger Mouse got away with Jay-z vs The Beatles on The Grey Album. But he never tried to sell it….


Its (a)LIVE!

Abelton Live is probably the most adaptable and creative music software around. Used by everyone from Justice to Mogwai to deadmau5, now Ableton Live is on all the computers in Lab 1!  There are some workshops coming up in the new year, but in the meantime why not book a mac and go through the intro already built-in to Live? Then you check out some of the bazillion tips and tricks out there for this awesome program.


Two personal records…

I think I’ve just set a new personal record for number of genre’s hopped in one month of work and for number of double shot flat whites in a 24 hour period. First is good. Second is bad.

I’ve gone from a B105 charity rock song that needed a mix (and some severe autotune) to producing a song from a 15th century opera featuring seven sopranos in full voice (who definitely don’t need to be tuned) , to the tracking of some country rock in the leafy hills of Paddington,  to recording a  metal/hardcore band in an industrial no-man’s land on the gold coast.  Number of flat whites? Lets just say that I have ten coffee loyalty card in my wallet…

All great music (or for a great cause), but why am I ranting on about this? Well, if you attend a Pro Tools workshop, we can go through aspects of recording and production, using some of these sessions as examples of what to do (or not!) when faced with different musical genres.  Whatever your musical inclination you should be able to come away with a tip or two, and a better understanding of how to use Lab 3.

UPDATE :  December workshops are booked out, so keep your eyes peeled for the January workshops, and sign up for the newsletter for the latest updates.


Wii’s Waving Wildly

Thanks for those who came along to the wiijam workshop. Any others interested in having a bash, the required  software is installed on both boot disks (mac and pc)  in Lab 1, and here are some walkthroughs from the bounteous internet for OSX and for Windows on how to get it going. My plan is to gradually leave templates on the shared drive to help people get up and running – which will be heaps easier once Ableton Live is installed (yay!)

At the workshop, we decided the next level-up for a musical geek is to work out how to get the furiously hacked xbox kinect to spit out MIDI data or OSC data, Any takers?


More from Andrei…

Well, I’ve done the official induction for Lab 3. This was run by Chris Neehaus who played a large part in setting up the studio and making it useable. While we where running through the ins and outs, Mick ushered in the folks from Shockwave Festival and asked Chris what he thought the studio was for.

Chris made a great point – Studio 3 provides a space where people who think they may want work in a “pro” studio can start to get an understanding of what that actually means to do this kind of work, before jumping off the edge and buying a bunch of gear of their own, or enrolling in a course of a degree – both of which can be costly affairs.

After all, how can you make a good decision about whether you want to work in a pro studio, if making that decision requires knowledge that can only be gained after you’ve used a pro studio?

Hopefully an induction and workshop or two at studio 3 at The Edge can give you a head start. Lab 3 is a fully functioning room with a hi-end Pro Tools HD system, in a space that can be accessed (once you’ve done the induction) 6 days a week. Ill be spending a fair bit of my time as a Catalyst in this space over the next few months, starting out with…….

Pro Tools  Workshop – More than the Basics