Saturday, November 24, 2012

Girl with fairy floss (cotton candy)

Girl with fairy floss at markets
My daughter Charlotte at the market with the largest bunch of fairy floss I've seen, with bright light behind!


Putting Vernacular Poetry to Video (Narrative Ambience for ds106)


Posted by Hayley Campbell, this assignment involves communicating an ambience (I'm not sure that is a noun, but oh well).  The creator must read out a piece of poetry or some other piece, and put sound to it.    to encourage the viewer to 'feel' the poem.


(After some questing around for inspiration.) I selected a piece of poetry about the Australian bush and it's struggle against economic rationalism by Les Murray (a living legend), and decided to put real bush sounds to it.  I have included a collage of relevant images and short video.  I finish with a chainsaw in timber sound to represent the impact of 'economics' described in the poem.

The feeling I was looking for was a sense of torpor in the hypnotic natural bush sounds, ripped asunder by the chainsaw.  A 'tree hugging call to arms' perhaps.


Select poem.  I started reading some longer poems I already like (The Quality of Sprawl and An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow), then found some 'lost poems' (poems and poem fragments that are out of print) at the website.  Among them I found the one I selected: 'In Australia They Only Spare the Kulaks' originally from Les Murray's book Poems Against Economics (1972). Kulaks are explained in Wikipedia - this is not a nice term. Some appreciation of Les Murray's situation may help in understanding his use of the term.

Record Australian bush sounds. I did not think of this until I walked through my kitchen, and heard cicadas with their hypnotic hum overlaid by a range of bird sounds.  (iPhone with Voice Memos app in my back yard.)

Record the poem. A change of iPhone app to iTalk to record the poem.  (There was a hissing in the background on Voice Memos in a closed, quiet room.)  iTalk allows the selection of 'best' recording quality.  And the hiss was substantially reduced.

Select photos/video.  Sifting through my photo collection, I found a long shot of Australian bush at one of the entrances to the Carnarvon Gorge, a time-lapse of clouds, and a photo of a horse in a field.  My Dad is close to me in this video, as he and I took the trip to Carnarvon Gorge, and he took the photo of the horse in the field.

Find chainsaw sound clip.  To obliterate the comfortable ambiance of cicadas and birds in the bush, I felt that a chainsaw through timber would be appropriate.  I searched Google for 'creative commons sound files', which led to  Ross Craig had uploaded a perfect chainsaw sound clip, including a falling tree.  I edited out a couple of bits with voices, including the operator's voice asking, 'How d'ya like that?'

Edit video.  Following an abortive start due to Windows Live Movie Maker's reluctance to accept the file types I was using, I downloaded the (free for non-commercial use) Video Pad Video Editor and commenced editing. There is certainly a learning curve here, although my main stumbling was through impatience, as my 'good' laptop still refuses to show video in preview and other situations.  I also had to Google for instructions on adding Titles and Credits.

Final comment.  The whole project was a blast.  I enjoyed each step, and managed to pretty much kill a whole day in the imagining, learning and implementing.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Stack of Hard Disk Drives

Stack of hard drives

The remains of projects past. And these are just the ones reputed to still work.


And here is one by my daughter Eloise - she thought there needed to be a large, obsessive-looking collection of something.  So here are her plush toys.

Plush Palace

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


A vision of hope...

A Daily Create for ds106.  Maybe a bit close to the bone for a man of my years and hirsute-ness.


A Great Way to Start the Day

A great way to start the day...

I really enjoyed the black and white photo task for this week's ds106 Daily Challenge. I even found an IOS app I had already installed called Simply B&W that I suspect I had never used.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Self-portrait in 10 Seconds

Self-portrait in 10 Seconds
This self-portrait was for The Daily Create in ds106.  And here are the practice ones:

Lots of Self-portraits in 10 Seconds

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The view from the chook shed...

Via Flickr:
A photo illustrating 'near' and 'far' taken from the chook shed looking out across the dry creek bed behind. I feel like I'm in a Sesame Street episode. Taken for The Daily Create in ds106


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fusion Food for Chooks

My latest Daily Create project is a video of my chickens enjoying fusion food on a 36 degree Celsius day.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Or Tandem Bomb (my first daily create)

In the absence of easy access to a person who speaks a foreign language, I decided to record myself speaking the lyrics of 'Je Suis Un Rock Star', which I vaguely remembered from my teenage years.  I found the lyrics at, and discovered that this song has more English lyrics than French lyrics.  Then I thought of the German Christmas song 'O Tanenbaum'.  I recorded myself on an iPad using the default camera app.

I found the lyrics to 'O Tanenbaum' at When I went to read it out I broke into song and decided to keep going.  This was the first take, but given time constraints (and a lack of confidence that I could do it any better) I decided to go with it.

I used the Wifi Photo Transfer app to transfer the video file to my PC, and while it was downloading I started taking these notes.  Now I had my video.

Next I opened Windows Movie Maker and imported the file.  So far so good, except for a continuing glitch I have getting WMM to show my video previews.  I hoped to be able to get by without preview, given the lifelessness of my video presence.  I then wondered how I would add subtitles.  I found some excellent instructions from Barry at the occasionally useful Yahoo Answers.  I created my subtitles, by simply Anglicising the German words, taking some liberties, but intentionally avoiding grammatically correct phrases and sentences.

Then, given the hammering given to WMM in the transition from version to version, to create subtitles I settled on an alternative approach that WMM 2012 could accommodate.  The 'captions as subtitles' approach was suggested in a comment by Kenny R in a blog post by Larry Henry (for source, click here and scroll down to the first Comment). I inserted my fake subtitles, then added a Title (animation unseen, due to the aforementioned issues with Preview in WMM) and credit.

I compiled and re-discovered that the compiled movie is blank, apart from the captions. ('Re-discovered' means that I remembered that my blank preview is not the only problem I have with WMM.  It also fails show video, apart from the components created in WMM.  That is, the titles, captions and credits.) So I took all of the files to another laptop (the old trusty painfully slow lappy), fired it up and compiled the movie there.  It is running the same version of WMM, but does not have the preview and compile issues.  I then discovered the value of the preview, so you can see that white captions are unreadable against a white t-shirt, and some editing was required.  Finally I was able to compile and upload to YouTube.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Commentary:  I tried to keep to the 15-20 minutes suggested on The Daily Create page, but blew the time budget by about 200%.  Given this is my first assignment I am happy with this.

By the way, The Daily Create page (linked above) specifically stated (and I quote) "the one hard and fast rule is MAKE ART DAMMIT!"  If this is art, then I am truly an artist. I'm just not entirely convinced that this is art.