Friday, September 29, 2017

Making a Linux Live MIDI Setup with SEQ24, Qsynth and Jack Rack

How to use a Linux laptop for live music performance with SEQ24 MIDI sequencer, Qsynth for soundfonts, and Jack-Rack for realtime fx manipulation.
Controllers used in this video:

Korg NanoKey2

MidiPlus Classic 49

This setup allows you to trigger loop based midi sequences on the fly, map MIDI controls to fx parameters, as well as play along in realtime all from a midi controller. This is not a fully in depth tutorial, but more of an overview of the full workspace. If you have any specific topics touched upon in the video that you’d like me to go further in depth about, just let me know in the comments section. This tutorial is a bit on the advanced side and assumes a general knowledge of Linux audio and Jack.



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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Why You Should Learn About Lighting BEFORE Buying Lights For YouTube

LEARN ABOUT LIGHTING BEFORE BUYING LIGHTS!

I learned this the hard way. I made the mistake of buying a ring light after I saw so many YouTubers raving about them. The light I got is nice for the money, however looking back on it now, it was totally the wrong choice for my channel. I would have been better off with a couple of softbox lights, or even one.

After I got my ring light, the first thing I quickly noticed was the horrible refection on my glasses. This should be a warning to all looking to talk to the camera who wear glasses. You can’t use a ring light. At least not in a traditional way (more about this later). Disappointed, I started watching some YouTube videos on ways to avoid glasses reflections with lighting. The suggested position the light at an angle from above then using a reflector to bounce light to the other side of my face. This helped me a little bit, but I was still getting reflections in the glasses. Also the lighting quality, even though brighter wasn’t really better. My skin seemed to look really harsh and I seemed to age like 5 years on camera! See the video below for an example.

Luckily I live in NYC, and YouTube has one of their “YouTube Spaces” here. Which is a great place that has a massive video studio and offers free classes to those who are interested and qualify. I got accepted into their course “Lighting for Vlogs” taught by Misael Sanchez, of The International Film Institute of NY. It was a hands on 3 hour course where I basically learned everything I was doing was wrong.

First off, my ring light was throwing the wrong temperature light for the type of shooting I was doing, which is why my skin tone was looking so bad. It came with some orange looking covers for it, that I thought were some kind of special effect thing and ignored them, but turns out I should have been using them all along! The light I was using was balanced for outdoor usage (5500k), but by using the amber orange looking covers, I can change my ring light to being balanced to indoor temperature (around 3200k).

Also in the course I learned how much of a difference defusing the light source can make. We setup an example in the class with a student in glasses, with only a single high / front angled bright softbox, and it looked great and no reflections! I snapped the pic below of the setup.

The good news was I can still use my ring light, I just had to make some adjustments by installing the 3200k light covers, and made a simple DIY defuser from Wax Paper (see below).

WARNING, DO NOT USE WAX PAPER ON ANYTHING BUT LED, NON-HEAT GENERATING LIGHTS! BECAUSE YOU WILL START A FIRE IF YOU DO!!!

I then took my modded ring light and set it as high as the stand could go and further away than before in my tiny room to try to replicate the setup shown above at YouTube Space and got much better results! See the video below where I used this setup. There’s still a bit of reflections in my glasses, but this is because I just don’t have the space in my apartment to offset it enough. They are not there unless I look up too. Also, my skin tone is MUCH BETTER now.

It is still not perfect, but it is a drastic improvement!

So the moral of the story is LEARN BEFORE YOU BUY!

Here’s some books on lighting to help you get started. I know I’m doing a lot more research before I buy anything else for lighting!





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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Soonhua Condenser Microphone Review and Sound Test

The name of this mic on Amazon is: Professional Studio Recording Condenser Microphone Compatible Phone, Computer, Laptop ,PC, Oenbopo Anchor Microphone with Mount Anti-wind Cap, for Youtube, Podcasting, Twitch, Broadcast,Interview,

lol! Catchy right? Well the brand name on the mic itself is “Soonhua”

I really was impressed with the sound quality for mobile, you seem to need phantom power for computer though. Soon I’m going to take it to my studio to try to record some drums with it.



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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Zoom G1ON, the $50 Amp Modeler, Multi-fx and Looper

I picked up one of these G1ONs a while back for recording and playing at home. The price was good so I thought I’d give it a shot. The amp models in these are incredible and sound very realistic. For my home recording needs it’s perfect. I would much rather use a pedal with modeling than have to setup an amp and microphones just to record guitar. I know some people think that’s the only way to go, but I have to respectfully disagree. I honestly think modeled tones work better for recording, especially when recording at home.

The looper feature was a really nice surprise. I actually didn’t even know it had that when I ordered it. The looper function is pretty basic however and there’s no way to store loops for recalling at a later time. All of the reverbs and other fx are very nice sounding, and for the home recording enthusiast, it is a great way to have a ton of guitar tones at a tiny cost.



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Monday, September 25, 2017

RAW Photography and Linux

Funny Fish Heads

As an audio guy, I always heard people talking about RAW photography format, but I didn’t really know much about it. An old co-worker of mine would constantly tell me it was better, but he really couldn’t express it in a meaningful way that made sense to me, so honestly I never really thought much of it.

Recently though I installed a hack on my Canon Powershot that enabled me to shoot in RAW and I wanted to learn more about it. I started reading online and playing with software in Linux and one program quickly came up as what seemed like a great one for RAW photography processing…. Darktable.

So first off, what is RAW? To explain this simply and from an audio engineer’s point of view, imagine your camera lens was a microphone. Now imagine that your camera body is an fx chain that processes what goes into the microphone then converts it to an MP3 before it writes it to memory. Would you want to record sound this way? I wouldn’t. But this is exactly how most cameras record images. You take a picture, the camera lens captures the image and the camera takes color information, exposure compensation, sharpening data, or whatever else gets determined at the time, applies that to the image data, then compresses all of that into a .jpg file which has all of this data permanently stored in the file and unchangeable except for post-processing.

90% of the time, this is just fine for most people. Because the camera was intelligently designed to figure out most of the important work to optimize the image to make it look it’s best according to the settings used at the time the image was captured. But for a serious photographer, or just for anyone who likes having insane amounts of control over all of their creative work, RAW is a much better option. When you shoot in RAW your lens captures the image data, and the camera still captures the processing data, but instead of writing it together into a .jpg file, the image data is stored purely without any processing or compression applied to it and the processing information is stored in a header of the RAW data.

Now back to Darktable.

Darktable is a photo management program for processing RAW images. When you open a RAW file in Darktable, many times you’ll already see a processing history on the image in the left pane of the software. This is because Darktable reads the header information from the RAW file that your camera wrote and applies it to the image data. The major difference here is you can turn it off and see what it looks like without any of that applied. You can decide to use it or not, and you can tweak, add to it, change it, or just discard it all together if you like.

There are many other tools for Linux for working with RAW images. Digikam has RAW processing features, though in my opinion Darktable seems to work much better and is faster. Gimp also has the ability to work with RAW, but not out of the box. You need to install the UFRaw plugin, but once you do, then you have access to a lot of processing tools for RAW images that are quite good. The major difference between this approach instead of using Darktable, is all of the RAW processing is done in the importing process of Gimp. This may be good or bad depending on your needs. Gimp has a more robust set of editing features more similar to Photoshop, where Darktable has a lot of RAW processing features with endless undos and a very nice photo management system.

My conclusion and personal workflow at least at this moment is Darktable as my organizer and main RAW processor, and Gimp for special and more in-depth editing. You could look at it like: Gimp=Photoshop and Darktable=Lightroom.

I hope you found this article helpful and please ask questions if you have any. I will be making some video tutorials on these subjects in the near future as well.



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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Linux for Serious Photography

This post comes from Scribbles and Snaps blog, so be sure to check out the original post here! 

Linux Tools For Serious Photographers

While most mainstream Linux distros come with photo management software, these applications are more suited for shutterbugs than serious amateurs and professional photographers. Fortunately, there are quite a few high-quality powerful Linux-based photographic tools that can rival proprietary commercial applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Lightroom. And using applications like Entangle, Rapid Photo Downloader, and digiKam, you can turn your Linux machine into a powerful darkroom for processing and organizing photos.

Common Photographic Tasks

Let’s start with a brief overview of common photographic tasks:

  • While you’d normally use your camera to take photos, there are a couple of Linux-based tools that can be used to remotely control and trigger your camera. These tools can come in handy for exposure bracketing, focus stacking, macro photography, and so on.
  • Before you can do anything with your photos, you need to transfer them from your camera to a computer, and then import them into the photo management application.
  • Next, you have to sort and organize the imported photos.
  • Once the photos have been neatly organized, you have to process the RAW files.
  • Most of us share our photographic masterpieces with others. And in most cases, we publish photos using either one of many third-party photo sharing services, or upload photos to self-hosted galleries.

So what are the tools that can help you to handle these photographic tasks on Linux?

digiKam to Rule Them All

A solid photographic workflow is unthinkable without an application that can help you to import, process, and organize photos. While there are several such applications available on Linux (RawstudioDarktableRawTherapee, etc.), digiKam makes a sensible choice for a number of reasons.

  • Thanks to the LibRaw decoding and processing library, digiKam can handle a wide range of RAW formats. digiKam currently supports more than 400 cameras that shoot in RAW, and new models are added almost as soon as they hit the market.
  • digiKam offers several ways to view your photos. You can use a conventional album view, browse photos by tags or by date, or display your photos as a timeline. digiKam also allows you to view your photos on the map, provided they have been properly geotagged.
  • Speaking of geotagging, the application sports a separate interface for working with geographical data. You can use it not only to geotag photos, but also geocorrelate them. digiKam offers another useful feature called reverse geocoding. Using it, you can retrieve human-readable locations such as city, street, country, etc. for photos based on their geographical coordinates.
  • The photo management application offers a wide array of tools that can help you to keep tabs on your photos. For example, digiKam offers tagging and rating features. In addition to that, the application sports the Color labels and Picks tools. The former lets you apply color codes to photos, while the latter can come in handy for quickly sorting photos.
  • digiKam sports powerful filtering and search capabilities. The dedicated Filters sidebar in digiKam offers a simple yet flexible way to filter photos by specific criteria. For example, you can easily set up a filter that displays photos containing certain tags and have a specific color label.
  • The application supports non-destructive editing and versioning. This allows you to tweak photos without affecting their originals. In addition to that, you can save multiple modified versions of the same original and use digiKam to neatly organize them as well as keep track of changes made to each version.
  • When it comes to editing, digiKam offers a wide selection of useful tools. Besides the usual suspects like Curve and Level adjustment tools, digiKam offers exposure blending, lens correction, perspective adjustment, black-and-white conversion, and many other nifty features. Better yet, the application sports powerful batch processing capabilities which allow you to apply multiple editing and conversion operations on a set of photos.
  • Finally, thanks to a comprehensive collection of bundled plugins, you can publish your photos on many popular photo sharing services like Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, SmugMug, and others.

Read More here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Learn more about RAW photography with this book!



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Friday, September 22, 2017

Create a VHS Movie Effect with Vegas Movie Studio

This is a tutorial I made a while back about creating a VHS effect using Vegas. Vegas is a great affordable movie editor for Windows.

It used to be owned by Sony, but recently was purchased by Magix. It’s still the same great editor and this technique will still work. With the popularity of Synthwave, and the never ending 80s nostalgia, a lot of people have been living this tutorial. I’m glad it was able to help som e people.

If you don’t have Vegas, you can use the link above to get a copy for yourself.



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Synchronizing External Audio With Video in Kdenlive

A lot of people think you need a camera with an external microphone input, but this really is not the case. Using this lapel microphone for smart phone, you can have high quality, clear audio on any video no matter how far away you are from the camera. There’s no need to have a camera with an external mic input, you can get just as good results, or better by synchronizing audio recorded on your smart phone to your video recorded on any camera. All of this is done in post production. In this video I demonstrate the technique, as well as walk you through the process of doing it yourself.
If you’re interested in the exact camera I’m using, you can get them for much less than a DSLR here.



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sonicake Cloud Chorus – The Best Chorus Pedal for Under $60?

In this video I unbox, test, and review the Cloud Chorus by Sonicake. It’s a small footprint, true bypass, chorus pedal that sounds pretty great! Pick up one of these for yourself here. For about $50, Sonicake makes an extremely high quality guitar fx pedal. It’s built in a high quality metal box, features a metal toggle switch for intensity, level and depth controls, as well as a big knob for speed.

Overall I think the pedal is very nice. It has a nice vintage type tone and can go from subtle to crazily intense chorus. Watch the video above for a sound test. I look forward to more good stuff from this Sonicake!



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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Vintage Digital Sound Of The Zoom PS04

The Zoom PS04 is not a new recorder by any means, it came out about 10 years ago. However, this little handheld digital 4 track is still one of my favorite pieces of recording equipment I’ve ever owned. I like it so much, I actually bought a second one in case the main one I use ever breaks I’ll have a back up.

There’s some weird quirks to them, like recording on Smart Media Cards, which are getting harder and harder to find, and had a maximum size of 128mb. However, a 128mb card is enough space to be productive and record several songs with virtual takes.

However, there is a certain sound quality they possess that seems to be unlike any other multitrack recorder I’ve heard. They have that gritty, early digital recording sound. Almost like 12 bit samplers like the Akai s900. Even though they are 16 bit, the sample rate isn’t quite CD quality, at it’s highest setting it is 31250hz. I believe this has something to do with the sound quality, but even if I convert sounds on a computer to 31250hz, they don’t quite have the same sound as the ones recorded on the PS04.

I thought I would put together a playlist of the songs I recorded on these little units so you could hear what I mean. If you want to get one for yourself, they are still available on Amazon through 3rd party sellers. 



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Monday, September 18, 2017

Installing 64 Bit Linux on 32 Bit EFI Macbooks AKA Black Macbook

The 2007 and 2008 ‘Macbooks’ have 64 bit core2 duo processors in them, but still had a 32 bit EFI which is sorta like bios and is what is needed for the OS to boot for installation. However if you ever just tried to download the standard Ubuntu 64 bit ISO from their website, it won’t work.

This was a bit of an annoyance for me a while back and I ended up just going with 32 bit. However, as time went on, 32 bit was not going to cut the mustard anymore, mostly because of certain programs no longer offering 32 bit versions like Skype and Google Chrome. Chromium Browser however does still offer a 32 bit, but since I need skype, I had to upgrade.

I knew there had to be a way to do it, so after some sleuthing I found an old bug report that included little bit of c source code that when compiled and ran in the same directory as the 64 bit linux iso, it will ‘remaster’ the iso into one with 32 bit EFI booting capabilities.

I first re-installed my personal Macbook and it worked like a charm! Then I decided to pick up another of the same exact model macbook and do a video on it. Check it out above if you’re interested. If you’re interested in creating your own iso to install, see this post for details . This is a bit of an advanced method and you will need to compile from source.

or if you’d rather just download an Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS 64 that’ll boot on 32 bit EFI. I’ve created one you can get here.



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Aquarian X-10 Most Affordable and Best Synthetic Drum Sticks

A few years ago, wooden drum sticks really started to dry out my hands. I was not about to use drum gloves, so I thought maybe by using a synthetic stick I could avoid the drying of my hands. After trying others in the past, I stumbled across the Aquarian X-10 graphite/nylon drum stick.

It was a little strange at first, but once you adjust to them, wood actually feels strange to me now. The drying out of my hands problem has stopped and I have still yet to actually break one of these sticks and still have the very first pair I ever bought 2 years ago!

I love these sticks and highly recommend them if you’re looking for a wood alternative. They’re also much more inexpensive than other synthetic sticks on the market. Get a pair here!



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Friday, September 15, 2017

Every Single Audacity Preference Explained!

Audacity is a powerful free program that can be used for just about any audio need. The user community is gigantic, and has a wealth of information online, in print, and in video form. However I couldn’t find a video that walked through every single setting in the preferences menus and explained them, so I thought I’d make my own.

In this Audacity lesson I painstakingly go through every single option in the preferences menu within audacity and give in-depth explanations and examples for each one. This is a great way to learn some of Audacity’s hidden features, as well as have a deeper understanding of the software. Time-stamps below for each section of preferences. If you really want to learn nearly all there is to know about Audacity, I recommend the very highly rated book, The book of Audacity.  



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Using cheap automotive covering as drum wrap

One of the oldschool ways to cheaply re-wrap drums was with contact paper for shelving, but this always looked pretty poor and styles were pretty non-drum looking and very limited. Recently I was putting together a drum set from random drums I’ve collected from the trash and Craigslist, and was trying to think of ways I could re-finish it without spending a lot of money. After searching through Amazon, I found a very cheap way to rewrap drums that looks very nice!

This stuff is apparently for covering automobiles as an alternative to painting them or for adding details. It is definitely not as durable as real drum wrap, but this particular one I purchased was only $5 per roll! One roll is quite large and I was able to cover two toms with a single roll. It’s also wide enough to use on the kick drum. It is pretty thin however, so I don’t expect it to be very strong or resistant to tearing. You could possibly put a clear coat on top of it to strengthen if needed though.

The drum set you see above was re-wrapped with this exact wrap, except for the two 14″ and 15″ slingerland toms on the left above the floor tom. They match incredibly well and the chrome finish is surprisingly good! The cool thing about this stuff is there’s also some pretty exotic styles out there that would make very interesting looking drums, like Carbon Fiber.

If you want to see the full process of rebuilding this drum set and wrapping it with the $5 auto wrap, check out the YouTube playlist below.



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Monday, September 11, 2017

8 bit performance on a Korg nanoPAD 2 and nanoKONTROL

This is something I put together a while ago, but still really happy with it. I wanted to make an 8 bit trap song in real-time using Ableton Live and my Korg nanoPAD2 and nanoKONTROL. I first found and created all of the samples I needed and loaded them into Ableton’s drum rack, then I spent some time working out some beats and setting up arpeggiators to create the hi hat roll sounds. Once I had it all together I just had to practice for a few days then I made the video.

Korg’s nano series is a great way to get inexpensive and versatile controllers for Ableton. The fact that they are so small and come in different categories too makes them really great for creating modular setups for your needs.

You can pick up your own nanoPAD2 here

Or if you want a nanoKONTROL, get that one here



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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Getting started with Ubuntu Linux

You’ve thought about it and you’ve heard other people talk about it. It runs servers and is has one of the largest growing user communities of any other operating system. It’s the only other OS sold on Dell’s high end “Developer Edition” Laptops. But how do you get started? And why choose Ubuntu and not some other flavor of Linux like Mint or Suse? Well the simple reason to use Ubuntu as opposed to any of those others is just because it is so popular. Popularity means more users, more forums, more software, and more help if you need it.

So how do you get started? A lot of people recommend using a virtual environment to try it out, but as a Linux user for over 15 years, I do not recommend this method. If you install it on a virtual PC, you won’t really dive in with both feet, and the performance will suffer. The best way to learn Linux, or more specifically Ubuntu Linux, is to use it. And I mean REALLY use it. If you don’t want to get rid of your Mac OS, or Windows Operating system just yet. I recommend getting an older Dell E6410 or a similar system that is known to work well with Linux. Install it, and make this your primary PC for a few weeks or longer.

Once you have your computer selected, you may want to watch some tutorials on YouTube, or pick up a copy of The Official Ubuntu Book, which is a comprehensive beginner’s guide to not only using Ubuntu, but also the history and philosophy behind the wonderful Operating system. I think you’ll be surprised to find that a lot of things won’t be that different than what you are used to. If you’re coming from a PC environment, you be pleased to be no longer bombarded with adware or the likes. There are some learning curves, but you’ll catch on fast. You’ll also become acquainted with the joy of computing that gets lost in the dummy-proof and restricted Mac OS, or the junk-filled ad-laden Microsoft Windows.

One of the biggest problems people have with Ubuntu or Linux in general is the question “Can I run ______ software to do my_______?” This is not the right question to ask. Can it run MS Word? No, well not without serious nerd power anyway. Do you need to run MS Word? Absolutely not. Right out of the box, Ubuntu has web browsers, mail clients, music players, full office suites, photo management, and much more is available it a simple click or command away.

Remember the best way to transition from a beginner to an expert is to begin!

 



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The Ibanez GiO GRX20ZBKN is the best and most versatile electric guitar for under $200

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 years old, and I’ve played and owned many guitars in my life. I currently play guitar in a surf rock band where I am playing a lot of leads and using a tremolo on a regular basis. I am also a home recording artist and commercial music producer who records a lot of different styles and sounds. So it may come as a surprise to you that I am using a $149 Ibanez GRX20ZJB as my main, or really ONLY guitar.

I picked one of these up because the price was right and I wanted something with two pickups and a tremolo. After receiving it, it quickly became my go-to axe for everything. The dual humbucker pickup and 3 way switch / tone volume controls make it very versatile. Giving you options for hard rock crunch, mellow jazzy warm tones, screaming metal lead, and even 60s reverb saturated surf sounds!

The feel is excellent and has a very nice build quality far above it’s price range. I absolutely love the neck and I honestly believe this guitar has made me a better guitarist because it seems to fit my playing style so well. I’ve wailed on the tremolo for hours at a time, barely having to retune and the look of it is downright sexy. I’m considering picking up a second one just because I love it so much.

If you’re on the market for a great guitar and you don’t want to break the bank, I highly recommend the Ibanez GRX20ZJB!



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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rupaul’s Dragcon NYC 2017!

Dragcon 2017, NYC

We went to Dragcon today in NYC, it was a blast and I saw some amazing people. Check out my Flickr page for the complete photoset!



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Archeer Podcast Microphone Review and Sound Test

I saw this pretty cool Archeer Podcast Microphone mic on amazon http://amzn.to/2wP0XD8 for only $23 and thought I’d check it out and do a little review for you. Overall I think it is a good deal, but didn’t really like the mic stand



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