Creative Communications

14 April, 2009

Record albums will still be made after perishing as a commodity

Filed under: Citizen Powered Media,Conversation,Future?,music — Tags: , — Sean Canton @ 1:18 pm
A 12" record, a 7″ record, and a CD-ROM.
Image via Wikipedia

Various pundits have been predicting the ‘death of the album’ for a long time now. The popular rationale, advanced ever since Napster, is that since we are consuming music in 3-5 minute song chunks, there are far fewer reasons to purchase and experience an album in one shot. Before the MP3, there is no random access seeks in vinyl recordings, short of knocking the arm across the disc, hence the emergence of the linear album as the dominant presentation by which music may be purchased and experienced.

Digital music has changed the format of this presentation from a single, long form experience to bite-sized, easily digestible snippets of songs. Several songs strung together can tell a story with much more nuance and depth then can a single. Of course, the artist, producer and engineers determine whether or not this story is presented as a seamless entity in it’s entirety. Since the recording industry as a whole has focused on radio-friendly singles, not generally whole albums, it’s easy to extrapolate from history and come to the conclusion of how singles will be the future of music.

However, there are many releases which exist as a whole entity, made up of discrete parts, concept albums for example. You cannot say that because the recording industry will perish that the album as a presentation will not persist. Even in a scenario put forth by Gerd Leonhard, “Music Like Water“, where music is basically a media utility you buy into with a subscription fee, compilations in the form of albums will be much more rare. Collections of songs, however, (mixtapes being the lowest barrier to contribute here) form a gestalt entity, where the whole is greater then the sum of it’s parts, and will never be obsolete.

Looking at some of my favorite albums (forgive my conventional taste in greatness), The Downward Spiral, Dark Side of the Moon and Hell Awaits all have a few things in common. The central themes rotate through various lenses of interpretation, both sonically and lyrically. Albums allow for all the story-telling tricks we praise in the film world, foreshadowing, character development, climax, resolution, peripatia and anagnorisis. The production quality is quite high on all these releases which allows for persistent auditory themes throughout the album. This is the most important part, in my opinion, because it serves as a link between one song and each other in the collection. Yet, there is enough distinction that each song does not sound the same as the others, a sin committed by virtually every pop record produced in 2000.

That’s what it boils down to, ultimately, is focused effort on the part of the artists and producers. If you’re looking at something as a business equation, you want maximum results for minimum inputs. It just hasn’t been worth the effort to make entire albums stand out. Perhaps then album will perish because nobody wants to put the effort into making something which will be appreciated by so few. Since when did the lack of an audience stop an artist?

Albums will continue to be created because there are still musicians on the planet.

Now, the ‘death of the rock star‘ is something I believe will happen, with all certainty. That’s another thought for another time. Until then, thanks for reading, and I welcome your comments below.

10 April, 2009

A Journey Through Google Trends (includes surprise ending)

Filed under: Creation,Insights — Tags: , , , — Sean Canton @ 10:07 am

So, one day, as we are all wont to do, I decided to explore some of the comparative possibilities of Google Trends.
Of course, it’s necessary to see as a starting point, in the eternal war of good vs evil, which side is winning.

Huzzah, good lives to fight the fight another day, although evil had a recent spike. Note that good has been on the rise since 2004… and tends to dip during the XMAS season.

Maybe if evil had a different name, it might fare a little better in the competition.

Wow! They’re pretty close. It’s times like this that I wish Trends gave actual numbers, but that would be google exposing it’s inner data, which isn’t kosher for passover.

Well, existential concerns and eternal struggle aside, what do we really prioritize?

Well, there is a clear winner here. Obviously we’re FAR more concerned about money then happiness.

So, who gets more attention, those who have money, or those who do not?

Well, no surprise here, the rich own the media and are the gatekeepers of information, so naturally, there are 2x more mentions of what the rich experience in this world then the poor.

Yet if we phrase it a different way, it seems that we USED to be more interested in the plight of the poor.

But now, we are more concerned with the plight of the wealthy.

I wonder why this is, what are our priorities, in terms of how we treat eachother?

Oh I see. Selfishness is on the rise, while charity has been on a baseline.

Perhaps it’s a matter of attitude?

Even with all the rhetoric, hope and fear are still neck and neck.

Hope and fear put in terms of money, what is our income to debt ratio?

Getting smaller every day, indeed, last year our money fears almost overcame our business performance. News stories crossed over.

How are hope and fear promoted on the news?

Freedom seems to be on the decline, while terror maintains steadily, with occasional spikes equating to terror events.

To get away from it all, what do we turn to?

 Wow, sex wins out! We’re really interested in sex, apparently.

Ok, so rock and roll is kind of a generic phrase, how about music?

Sex is more popular then music, and the gap is widening.

Ok ok, so this is the internet, populated by geeks much more interested in cold machines then warm, soft bodies.

Maybe not.

Ok, so what out there gets more interest and hype then sex?

News comes close, you’d think our addiction to current information could match our interest in sex, but no.

So maybe, money? Could money be more interesting then sex?

Wow, so much for gold diggers. This was kind of surprising actually.

What about love, could it be that love contains greater interest for us then sex?

Close, but not very. Maybe back in happy, idyllic 2004 when we were all spending frivilously.

Surely power, electricity, social standing, the raw, visceral respect and fear of others, is more engaging then sex.

Power, love, money, news, nothing even comes close.

So what on this earth could be more popular then sex?

No comment.

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6 April, 2009

Configuring a Contour Shuttle Pro for Final Cut Pro – Part 2 – Rough Cut Assembly

Filed under: Final Cut / Video,Uncategorized,Work Adaptations — Tags: , , , , — Sean Canton @ 12:34 pm
Final Cut Pro

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most important parts of any machine interface is it’s ability to generate muscle memories, laid down over thousands of repetitions, which is why having a dedicated controller for audio & video can be very productive, if utilized correctly. The buttons you use become an extension of your mind, and you can operate your software in a more efficient manner. It becomes very tao, as you learn to act without thought. So, it’s important that the button layout be consistent and not change often.

Yet, the workflow of video editing requires several different modes, which requires several different configurations for the shuttle pro. So, careful considerations must be made when planning (yes, the P word), your software configuration to make sure that the buttons you choose are related between the settings.

For this workflow, we will investigate what I call Rough Cut Assembly, which involves parsing through hours of footage and culling out what might be usable shots. Mostly you’re working in the Viewer window and doing very little on the timeline. The objective here is to turn long footage captures into smaller chunks.

The relevant FCP commands:

  • Make SubClip – Takes In-Out and Creates a Browser entry with it
  • Add Marker – Hit twice when stopped to add a name for the clip.
  • Extend Marker – Helps to define a marker over an area
  • In / Out (of course) – Bread & Butter for Editors
  • Next / Prev Marker (shift up + down) – Hint, assign a button to shift
  • Insert/Overlay – For assembling a rough edit
  • Toggle Windows – Switch between Viewer / Timeline

Of course, you should find what works best for you. For shorter projects, that go right to the timeline, I use this workflow.

  1. Open clip in viewer
  2. Mark in/out
  3. Insert
  4. Toggle Windows (from Timeline to Viewer)

Otherwise, if your project is a little more involved you’ll want to mark save to sub-clips and name them appropriately to find later. You will have to trim the out point with this method, but it’s the fastest way I can think of to chop up a lengthy clip into usable, named chunks.

  1. Do a quick pass, stop and add marker at the in point (hit 2x to name)
    Edit Marker
  2. Select markers in Browser
    Multi select
  3. Create SubClip (Modify > Create Subclip , or cmd-u)

If you really wanted to be a pro, you could edit the order of your clips by manipulating the alphabetical sorting when making your markers. That way you have a rough cut before even touching the timeline! Just drag your clips, en masse to the timeline, and the sort order in the browser determines how they are laid out.

For configuring the shuttle, you might want to horizontally flip my suggestions if you use it right handed.

Top-left, outer – Add Marker
Top-left, inner – Extend Marker
Top-right, inner – Insert
Top-right, outer – Toggle Windows
Mid-left – Up Arrow (Or Shift – Up if you only want to scan markers)
Mid-center – JKL
Mid-right – Right Arrow (Or Shift – Down)
Left – In
Right – Out
Bottom Upper Right – Shift ( If you set the mid-left and right to arrows )
Bottom Lower Right – Make Sub Clip
– The next two are rarely used, because it’s a wrist tweak or a thumb under
Bottom Upper Left – Freeze Frame / Play in-out / play around (or whatever else is useful)
Bottom Lower Left – Switch Settings

We covered jog/wheel settings in Part 1.

Ok, that’s it for this installment. If this was of help to you, or if you have any useful input, I would really appreciate a comment. Seriously, the primary motivation for this was because someone left a comment on the first post.

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