October 31st, 2002

digimind

RITSMA Halloween Party

I couldn't think of anything clever to be this year, so I decided to just make a slight improvement over last year. That meant adding face makeup to my Emperor Palpatine costume, for which I already have the cloak and hood. So I found a witch makeup kid at Kmart that seemed to have the right shades to do the emperor's pale/green/yellow face. I also got some scar putty that I thought I might use to make some actual 3D wrinkles instead of just painting lines. And I picked up two cute tarantulas I saw.

Well the scar putty stuff is weird. It's not exactly easy to work with the way the directions say it should be. I'd say it's not adhesive enough, because when you're trying to smear it on it just tends to clump up and roll under your fingers, but in fact I found that it's TOO adhesive because the stuff wouldn't wash off my fingers! Even with lots of soap. I could only get it off by wiping it onto a paper towel. This got me really worried, as I had already smeared the stuff over my eyebrows to conceal them (the emperor has none, apparently). Oh well.

Then I try the makeup stuff. It says to start with green as a base and then add the white to pale it out, and there was some yellow for the eyes, and a black crayon for wrinkle lines. Perfect. Well, not so perfect. The colors didn't mix very well and were too bright, or saturated, or something. Plus, the scar putty, which says you can apply makeup right over it, was getting all messed up as I tried to blend the colors. The black crayon was of course way too black... I know you're supposed to smear it in, but how do you do that and keep a sharp line at the same time?

Oh well, so I threw the cloak in a bag and walked out the door looking like an Oldaged Mutant Ninja Turtle with strange facial tattoos. I got to the Skalny room and nobody was there yet. I showed up an hour early on purpose to help set up, but I guess that wasn't the plan everyone else had. Well with my makeup already on, there were only two things to do... put on the rest of my costume and wait, or go kill time playing piano in Fireside. Someone was reading in Fireside, so that choice was made for me. After I got my costume on, I hear someone walking down the stairs, so I just stood there. It was Paul. He seemed pleasantly scared. :)

About a half hour before the party, people started showing up with stuff to set up for it. So I helped putting up streamers and stuff. People slowly trickled in from Concert Band rehearsal, after taking time to change into their costumes. It seemed a little less lively than last year's, but still fun. The apple bobbing was new this year. We hadn't done that since my very first RITSMA Halloween party back in... oh, '96? Too bad I couldn't try it... I wouldn't want to lose face in front of my friends. (Pun intended.) :) Dave went in and grabbed an apple in under 3 seconds. Very nice. Cindi was apparently hungry, because she went in and took a bite, came up to chew and breathe, and went in again. :)

It was Becky's birthday so we had a huge cake for her and we all sang. But now that I think about it, it was weird to not have candles on the cake. Usually after singing, the person makes a wish and blows out the candles. *shrug*

I had fun, but I was a little disappointed in the turnout. Catherine said all of the musical groups were invited. There were like, two people there from Concert Band who weren't in RITSMA, two guys from BCS who are close to RITSMA anyway, and Jackie, an all-around cool friend who has nothing to do with RIT except us. :) The rest were RITSMA members. 4 people from the performing groups out of the 100+ that Catherine said were invited... is rather disappointing, I think.

Then people started leaving before we could even have a costume contest, and things wound down really quick. Ah well. So then I got to go home and spend a while removing my makeup. Fun. :)
digimind

Too ambitious for my own good...

I decided to try a different method of recording Tuesday @ The Clock this week. Since we run a mono program, the tape deck receives an identical signal at the left and right channels. The resulting recording is mono and rather empty-sounding, since the mic only picks up what is happening directly in front of it, and the guitar has a direct line in. (Yes, nearly every performer has a mic and a guitar.)

Well, I thought, what if I was to use the tape deck as a 2-track recorder. That's what it is already, left and right channels of a stereo signal, 2 tracks... I'm just saying to use them differently. On the left channel, I could record the mono program that would normally go to both channels. But on the right channel, I could record a general pickup of the room's acoustics with a dedicated mic on high gain that goes straight to the tape deck without coming out of the speakers (which would get massive feedback at that gain). That way I can do post-processing on the tape recording later to implement the reverberations and ambient noise from the room as needed to warm up the sound of the recording.

Well, now I'm at that stage. I captured the tape into a 45-minute stereo WAV file, ran noise-reduction filters to get rid of the tape hiss, isolated the left channel as its own mono file, duplicated the right channel onto the left as an inversion of itself to place the ambient noise in the "surround" field, and I have both recordings in a multitrack session where I'm playing with the levels of the ambient noise.

I found that giving it a constant level throughout the recording doesn't work very well because some songs need more reverberation and others need less to sound right. So I'll have to use the volume envelope to adjust the level variant with time.
But as long as I'm doing that, I can also do something about that door slam at the end of this song. And those people talking in the quite part of that other song. And this, and that, and... it never ends! There's so much stuff going on in the ambient recording, which is expected at a live performance, but from an editing standpoint, what should I do with it? If I silence the ambience at the time of a door slam or something, it also removes the reverberations of the music, which sounds weird.

So, on the one hand, I should keep the reverb level pretty much constant throughout. But on the other hand, I have the *ability* to remove unwanted noises from the recording that listeners might wish could be removed.

I don't know what to do. :(

And the silliest part of this is that I'm not being paid to do it and the performer probably doesn't even have very high expectations of the recording anyway. I just have an inexplicable compulsion to do an awesome job on this.

I need to find a job doing this sort of stuff. My work ethic would be through the roof.
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