It’s remarkable how markedly better life is when you have someone to do stuff with. KM’s visiting from Vanuatu and came in to the city tonight giving me a good excuse for touristy tourisms. It’s amazing how little I know about SF after four months here. Dinner at the Stinking Rose in North Beach? CNHB will likely disagree when she’s here but it’s surprisingly North End-esque (plus way more interesting topography). Riding the cable car back to Market St? Fantastic fun, a first time for me, and best of all unexpectedly free with a MUNI pass. No ice skating in Union Square but the Zamboni was cool. All in all a good night, am* happy.
A quick update before heading out to finish off the process of being roasted alive at ACL day two today. Seen yesterday – Vampire Weekend, Del tha Funky Homosapien, Patty Griffin, Jenny Lewis, a little David Byrne, N.E.R.D., The Swell Season and Manu Chao. Jenny Lewis was a highlight though they stuck her in the crappiest covered stage making it difficult to see. Particularly good was Rise Up With Fists – I’ve embedded a version from some sort of Sarah Silverman Hee-Haw thing below. The Swell Season was unbelievable, melancholic and uplifting. Glen Hansard’s guitar is completely untuneable and Markéta Irglová had piano issues but they still destroyed with whatever parts of instruments they had left. Manu Chao closed the day with a never-ending & never-wanting-it-to-end party. I don’t think he played Bongo Bong but there was a bunch of other stuff of Clandestino (like Desaparecido, which rocked).
All in all it’s been a good time so far, other than the fact that I can’t breathe at the place I’m crashing due to high levels of allergens put out by a truly evil cat. I can’t believe I unjustly placed that mantel on pure sweet kind little Chloe when it’s this Mia critter that would have killed me already without the magical power of Benadryl intervening.
My biggest regret is not bringing a long lens for my SLR – I didn’t realize that the part where they said no photographic equipment with detachable lenses would be completely unenforced. My TX1 is growing crappier by the day but feel free to check out my ACL flickr set if you have suitably low expectations. I’ll be trying to improve that over the next few days.
Counter to my current goal of converting all physical objects I own into into gas vouchers for the long ride to San Francisco, I bought a new computer to take advantage of a work reimbursement thing. And, lovely enough, it came with a free printer and iTouch.
The computer itself is still in Shanghai (I borrowed the photo from NP who was there last summer). The printer is in the HP haven of boring Bloomington, CA. The iPod has been the most active, jumping from Anchorage to Indy to Eastie in one day. And to round out the quad-fecta, the TX1 is “fixed” and idling in Chicago on it’s way back home. Tracking packages is great fun, more fun say than losing your luggage having to trust in the Quantas/United vortex of lost bags & unaccompanied minors to make good.
Unrelated PS: JP, sorry I forgot that yesterday was Canada Day!!!!
I’m not much of one for posting commercials but I’ll make an exception here. I’ve always liked the concept of using sequential stills to form videos – I’ve tried this a couple of times (529, An Easter Afternoon) but rather prefer Robbie’s 3 Days. This commercial does the same but breaks away from using full frame shots, connecting scenes with the visual football motif. I’ve also been fighting intense gadget-lust towards this XSi since it came out a few weeks back (repeated attempts at anti-consumerism self-hypnosis have not proved to be curative). From what I’ve read it shoots and writes to memory considerably more rapidly than either the 300d or the 400d (in RAW mode, these guys can lag down for upwards of 30 seconds). Plus is lighter, has live preview and uses SD instead of these giant CF cards. And considering that my TX1 fell apart in my hands today, I feel particularly manipulable to camera related pitches. The rational part of my brain knows it’s just a waste of money to buy more crap, that this isn’t the enlightened path to happiness. The irrational part knows where I keep the credit cards.
The identifiable good point of the day waited to present itself til 11:52pm when taking the dog outside. There was a late arriving Fedex package that had not been there previously with a charger and new battery for the new SLR. At risk of sounding like a commercial, I friggin love these guys at Sterling Tek. CNSMHB bought 20 TX1 batteries from them for like $120 before their Africa trip (only 8 of which survived elephant-poop free), and now I’ve got this new BP511 for half the cost of the original from B&H. So it looks like I’ll finally get to test this thing out tomorrow & this weekend.
I recently bought (per Matt’s suggestion) a Zoom H2 to try to alleviate some of the problems caused by using the on camera audio when filming with a Canon TX1 (most recently exemplified by Tokyo Pinsalocks, but also in Chris Brokaw, Ponies in the Surf, etc). In the past we got around this by using the stereo mic on a Canon XL2 or by bringing a digital 8-track to a show but both of these are bulky (and thus completely non-spontaneous). I’m still just testing this out and trying to get a feel for what works and doesn’t. Both of these tests were recorded in 24-bit stereo WAV (44.1kHz) then normalized and converted to 192kbps mp3.
The first test is of Montreal’s Famous Lovers from a recent show at O’Brien’s in Allston. They’re not particularly loud but this is recorded directly next to the PA, inside a fleece pocket for wind-screening with the 120 degree rear mic pointed at the band. The vocals are muddy (which was pretty much how they sounded live) but there’s no peaking out despite the volume.
Test number two was in a much quieter acoustic environment. This is from a set by Dustin Hamman of Run On Sentence from Audrey Ryan’s loft series. I again had the 120 degree mic pointed at the guitar from about eight feet at maximum gain (thus, the sounds of audience coughing and the sound of me shifting the device at 10 seconds).
A few complaints: the menu system is odd and difficult to navigate on the small & dim LCD, file transfers via USB are stupid slow, and whoever decided that a blinking red light means ‘ready to record’ rather than ‘actually recording’ screwed me up and cost me a set from the Concord Ballet Orchestra Players. Great.
The on camera TX1 audio leaves a little to be desired in high decibel situations. I think a possible solution is to have some sort of pocket-sized portable audio recorder with a built in attenuator (like this Edirol R09 – I think this is what Matt Searles from Asymmetricbizcult told me he uses). I never cease to enjoy deluding myself by thinking that yet another bit of technology is the solution to all my problems.
It would be convenient to blame the TX1 (a number of otherwise interesting shots are marred by high grain or slight motion blur) but it’s more fair to say it’s my own fault for overemphasizing video and making still photographs a secondary priority. Next time, I will bring two dedicated cameras and make more of an effort.
BC vs Army was pretty good game, if you like blowouts. It’s hard to cheer against Army when there’s a group of their fans sitting directly in front of you wearing picture buttons of their dead soldier son. Also it was clear pretty early on that they had no chance whatsoever.
I took this video clip from the friggin tip-top (row 24 of the top stadium bleachers) at 10x with my Canon TX1. The zoom on this camera is fantastically powerful, which almost makes up for it’s other flaws.