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December 2009 - Lifestyle Integrity




Stop Motion Animation

I’m always wishing I could score more video. Animation has always intrigued me, stop motion in particular (think Wallace and Gromit). I got my first hands on taste of creating stop motion working with Eric while volunteering at Camp Bright Feathers. For years I have been looking for artists to create the visuals for me, so I can focus on the sounds. Volunteers are still welcome, but I’m through just waiting.

I’ve had visitors staying with me 3 of the last 4 weekends. This long weekend I decided to hole up in the house and get creative.

I’ve got my new camera (Canon T1i) that I bought for a trip to India, but will now be using to photograph where ever in South America you all send us while traveling with The Hostel Life instead. I’ve got iStop Motion installed on my little mac mini (got this really cheap from the 2007 MacHeist)and I went to the store around the corner and got some clay. I also grabbed a little wire framed fisherman toy that my mother gave me a while back.

I’m studying Latin rhythms a bit to get ready to travel to South America with The Hostel Life. I taught myself how to play the Timbao rhythm on a djembe (don’t have congas). I didn’t record that though….not there yet. I grabbed some samples of a Samba rhythm and built off of that for the score. I, of course, threw a break beat over the samba to funk it up and then added some individual hits from a kit drum on top of that to give it some heft. Then I recorded some acoustic, electric, classical and bass guitar before layering pads and assorted bits with my new little Micron synth (It’s a bit digital for my taste…I need to get my Virus fixed soon) and a few other soft synths.

What ended up on the video is a 30 second edit of the 2.5 minute track that emerged. The edit was taken at an early stage while the song was still fairly empty. The full track starts out fairly organic and beautiful then takes a sudden turn for the darker before it ends back on the samba groove.

The focus of this stop motion test was to learn about how to sync movement with sound. This is fairly easy to plan when the numbers are simple. If the music is 120 beats per minute and the video is shot at 10 frames per second then I know right away which frames will land on a down beat. The music here is at 115 bpm and the video was shot at 14 frames per second. This is not as simple or consistent. I’m figuring out tricks as I go. I did decide to upgrade to the ‘Express’ version of iStop Motion as this allows soundtracks to be imported and video to be imported for rotoscoping.

What we have here is a 33 second clip comprised of 468 frames made from 431 individual photographs taken while enjoying a glass of red wine (note the drip running down the side of the glass once it is empty).

I’m guessing it’ll be 5 years or so before I’m making anything truly impressive to look at. Owen begs to differ pointing out how the mind links different arts such as music and sound. I’d agree, but things will go a lot faster once I get people like him on board to collaborate.

Here’s the full track:

right click to download



I’ve Joined The Hostel Life

I’ve just joined the cast/crew of The Hostel Life. As I mentioned before, I was scoring some promotional videos to help pitch the show to some networks. I had mentioned to Mehdy, the host of the show, over a few months of working together by phone that in order to write music I need inspiration, so at some point he would have to take me on one of his trips.

I was sitting in my apartment catching up with Benjamin and buying a plane ticket to India. The plan was to fly to Bangalore on Christmas to attend The Art of Living‘s Yes+ Winter Break meditation and service courses and then backpack around for a few weeks by myself hopefully meeting up with some family who would also be traveling in India at the time. I would fly out of Delhi returning to NYC on January 22nd. Literally as I was pushing the purchase button my phone rang. It was Mehdy. He told me that he was planning his next trip, the first real attempt at the show with networks watching. And he was putting together a new cast/crew. It’s going to be a three person team. Mehdy is the host. Luke is the Director of Photography. They needed one more person; a sound guy, second camera, co-writer, editor, photographer, jack-of-all type…and I was his first choice. The travel details will be up to you (the audience), but it is looking like it will be to South America for 5 weeks.

“When do you leave” I asked

“January 22nd” he replied

Interesting right? This was on Monday December 14. I decided that I couldn’t leave for over two months without some more prep-time and out of respect for my day job. So, I postponed my trip to India and will be heading where ever people send us with The Hostel Life. We meet up in Tampa on Feb 1st for a couple of days of test shooting and then we will be leaving the country. We’re going to be moving fast and covering a lot of ground. We will each have a lot of responsibilities potentially both on and off camera.

The success of this thing is going to lie heavily on audience participation. This is truly intended as an interactive guide to traveling on a budget. There will be polls on the website and what the audience votes we do within the budget while showing you how. The idea is to show how you can have an amazing adventure while on vacation for $300-400/week. We’re not talking about sitting in a little hut on the beach. We’re talking about getting off the beaten path a bit and seeing the exotic as well as festivals, fairs, natural wonders, music, doing service in the community and meeting as many unique and interesting people as possible. I think I’m going to document the food that we find in each region as well.

We will be off the grid a fair amount, but are committed to finding the internet every few days and uploading video and other content to the site.

So PLEASE find The Hostel Life on Facebook and become a fan. The page just went up, but we already have over 2,000 fans. A lot of them are from India, which excites me. Maybe they’ll vote the show there next. You can also sign up for email updates on the web site. You’ll probably hear me petitioning for certain outcomes for the polls, so I may need your help steering the ship to interesting places. I never promised to be impartial.

Check out the photos page on the site. I’ve just put up some photos of my trip to Brazil.



Practically Ideal

Logan recently reached out to ask me if he could use some of my music for his new podcast called Practically Ideal. Billed as a ‘podcast for idealists who like to keep it practical’ Logan Beaux and Bob Caswell speak from an intelligent and pragmatic Libertarian perspective. Quite often Libertarians espouse an idealistic, yet completely unrealistic view of how the world ‘should be’. These guys keep the hope alive, but look deeply at both the limitations and confusions inherent in many ways this political ideology is often expressed. They offer us a nuanced exploration of how libertarian thinking and action does and does not fit into the lives of intelligent, compassionate, integrally informed and open minded individuals who like playing video games and watching TV as well as being political active; or at least informed.

I, for one, am interested in Libertarianism both for specific reasons related to smaller government, less war, increased liberties (LEGALIZE IT!!) and increased individual trust and responsibility. But, as much as you may or may not support one particular flavor of free market capitalism, who doesn’t feel the need for a viable 3rd party in American politics?

Practically Ideal touches upon politics, technology and pop culture….and they play my music. And who doesn’t want to hear The Emergence every chance they get?

You can find the podcast at their website: or on iTunes.

Check it out, it’s definitely worth a listen.



Chunky Move – Mortal Engine

Just got back from a night out in Brooklyn. Went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to see Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine. I could describe, but you should just watch:

Thanks to Kiersten for both turning me on to the performance and for coming with me to see the show.