Thursday, 3 May 2018


Spacewhale's Music Corner

When Erkki and I have a project ready to edit we go to his studio on Vattuniemenkatu 19 (translation: Raspberry Cape's Street 19). I love SPACEWHALE. It's like going into the belly of the beast – different than the regular world. It's a guy place that's friendly to women.  In one corner there's a hanging out place with couches, coffee table, frig, coffee maker.

The studio has a high ceiling and a green screen for shoots. At one end is a bunch of musical instruments. When Erkki and his pals have the time they come here and blast away. When we're working and Erkki needs a pause, he bangs away on his drums.  Against one wall are a couple of editing machines. They're old and take time to warm up. While we wait Erkki brags about the super-computer he uses in his home-office.

I like this project and come prepared. By mining movies in the public domain, I found one directed by the father of American cinema: D. W. Griffith. My jaw dropped. 'Abraham Lincoln' made in 1930 was in the public domain. I watched the movie six times and the Shark helped plan the story.  Also which scenes we thought would be good. It was Trump who gave us the idea. He said Lincoln was the greatest president and he, Trump, was the 2nd greatest.Whoa. Erkki and I decide to declare a tweet war. Pitch Abe's words of wisdom against Trump's trash.

We decided to update Lincoln to the 21st C. His quotes make as much sense today as they did in the 19th C. We downloaded the footage and went to lunch while we waited. Then Erkki designed the twitter bird and the opening. He had to concentrate so I had to shut up. But it was fun to watch the bird come to life. We chose the scenes from the footage and put them in the right order, then the music. We used the Civil War music (in public domain) from the film and Erkki laid different tracks over it. Lots of thump-thump percussion. We looked at it over and over and corrected anything we didn't like. We started at 10:00 am and finished at 9:00 pm. My brain was fried. But we both said, 'that was fun.' Check out 'Abe Lincoln Tweets'.

PS: D. W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' was voted one of the 50 worst films, but the crowd scenes are fantastic. And the production values, especially for the 1930s, are excellent.

Source: youtube films in public domain

Next week: HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT

Note: This was a fun project, it's also been a while since i've made any loop-based music - quite refreshing. Also, i agree on the relevance of Abe's quotes.

One thing to mention, Maggy is the only client i let sit with me when i edit. That used to be the norm in the olden days when editing was done from tape to tape, and making changes to edits after the session was very, very complicated. Add to that the pretty steep cost of the editing hours (those tape machines cost a Mercedes Benz each), and every client wanted to supervise the edit, breathing on my neck.  Had enough of that back then. Nowadays i have an editing / 3D animation / audio workstation at my home office. All feedback from clients is done online - usually, i edit a full version of the project, which then goes to the clients as a simple link to a file on Google Drive, for evaluation and revision notes. Rinse and repeat. I prefer the modern way, but there was something very appealing in the old linear process - you needed to be committed in a completely different level when making edits, and what you have after the editing session was pretty much the final product because A) the client was there all the time to approve stuff as we went on and B) changes were so expensive and slow to make.

Finally, about the computer at the studio - it indeed is old. But back in it's hayday, it was the hottest thing in town. Also, was not cheap. 8 CPU cores, 16 GB of ram, SSD drive, and a Raid 0 array as the media drive, the best NVIDIA GPU of the time. Not bad for 2006 - and not that shabby even today, over ten years later. Which is like two or three eternities in computer speak. The hotness i have at home (16 cores, 64 GB ram, dual GeForce TITANS etc.) isn't that new anymore either, i recall i bought this machine in 2013 or 2014. It won't be THAT long until this one will go to the studio, and i will have yet another five-grand toy at home. The thing with this kind of higher end machines is - you really can use them professionally for years. And when it's time to retire them from the daily crunch, they still have a few more years of life in them as decent "normal" computers.

PS: Writing that last paragraph was fun - i enjoy thinking of Maggy reading the semi-jargon, trying to decipher what the heck i mean ;-)

- Eki

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