I promised to write an update on the Apollo Project. Well here it is. Yesterday I visited my friend Hans in his studio for another listening session and we determined that all arrangements for all the songs are done now. The last weeks I added a break to one song and an intro to another one and did some moving around in some other songs, because I wasn't satisfied yet with them. If you click on the picture on the left you can see the track list with the actual length of the songs that they are now. The CD will be a total of 70 minutes. So you'll get your money's worth of audio at least ;) But am I done now? NO not yet. Only one track is completely done now and I sent that one to Hans for mastering. I'm still working on the details in the other songs, adding sound effects, making drum variations, adding some little filler melodies and so on. In the mean time I'm also trying to get the mix for all the songs more in balance and when that is all done Hans still has to do the mastering. So progress is still slow, but steady. I still don't dare to name a release date though.
I'm currently selling a lot of synthesizers to make room for some new stuff and I didn't really plan to buy other stuff, but then told me he was going to sell his Rhodes (Fender) Chroma Polaris and I couldn't resist to try it out. It is a very nice analog synthesizer that was developed by the ARP engineers just after they were bought by Fender/Rhodes. It has 6 voices with two VCO's each. And it was one of the first synthesizers to have a decent and full midi implementation.
And here you can see the whole synthesizer in the picture below my V-Synth GT. It looks very nice only the membrane keys are notorious for breaking down, but this one was just serviced and all the keys work like a charm. I played a bit with it today and I must say it sounds really nice, warm and analog. I'm very happy to add this to my collection since they are quite rare and especially in this state. It is quite mint actually. I'm sure I'll use it on some future production.
Recently Kees Aerts announced that he was going to leave my record label Groove Unlimited. That leaves only Ron Boots as the owner now. Kees always took care of the technical side of Groove and now Ron has to do that too. As you all know Ron has become a good friend of mine and he asked me to help him out there. And of course I'll do that gladly. The last weeks Kees moved the Groove websites to my little VMWare platform at BIT-2A and I build a new website together with Ron for the announcement of E-live 2011. Ron has arranged a very special main act there and you'd better reserve your tickets quick because I hear they are going out very rapidly. The other acts will be announced soon and I can tell you they will be worth it too. And of course I'll be there again with a stall and I'm sure by then my Apollo album will be done and I'll have some more 3D animations with me as well. So go on and order your tickets now! You can find the new website on this URL http://www.e-live.nl/. More info is coming soon so keep track of this website.
I recently did a nice interview with Gearjunkies. It is mostly about my Apollo Studio and in this interview I also answer some questions that I get a lot over the E-mail. Gearjunkies is a really great site by the way if you like synthesizer and studio equipment so bookmark it. They often have nice scoops and are always actual with news. There is also a nice section called user studios where you can enter your own studio. You can find a copy of the interview on the URL at the bottom. It was fun to do, I hope you enjoy it!
Slowly I'm starting to understand just how much it is to make a complete 3D movie. I have more and more respect for those Pixar guys every day ;) I'm still working on some new scenes for the Apollo project. Here is a re-entry scene I'm making with a cool cloudy Earth in the background. The Earth rotates to add to the dramatic speed effect. I only have trouble getting it to rotate in the exact right direction. And every try takes a long while to render before I see result again. But I will get it right some day ;) I'm thinking hard at the moment about all the scenes I still need to make and that is a lot :) But I just go on one at the time.....
In the mean time I also started to learn about Adobe After Effects and I loved the integration with Cinema 4D. I have seen that I can do stuff easier afterwards by rendering out separate layers in Cinema 4D importing them and fixing stuff in After Effects. That saves a lot of render time in the end. I downloaded a demo of the CS5.5 Production Suite from Adobe and I love it. I was very fond of Sony Vegas, but the integration Adobe provides with Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects is really so cool, that I decided to go on and use Premiere. You can make your scenes in After Effects and import those in Premiere and you don't have to render it to video from After Effects first. You can just change stuff in an open After Effects project and it changes instantly in Premiere. Very cool.
I also made this Synth.nl - Apollo in Cinema 4D intro movie that is totally animated. The Moon rotates and the screen starts empty, the letters and Moon flies in and the everything disappears again. I can't wait to show you. I'm working hard on a small teaser movie to show you, but I'm not satisfied yet with both the music and video. Progress on the Apollo album is very slow unfortunately, but I'm working hard here and can't do more than this. In the mean time I have a list with all the things I still have to fix in my music and I listen to the whole project regularly with my friend Hans. There is one more song where we want to change the arrangement, but for the rest it is starting to be detail work. But still I don't dare to say when the album will be ready. It is way more work than I anticipated.
This morning when I entered the studio one of my screens acted a bit strange. It switched on and of immediately again and then it tried again. I hesitated for about 15 second and then decided to go and try to repair it myself first. I saw this behavior before with the Behringer REV-2496 I repaired a while ago, so I suspected the power supply right away. But the biggest challenge turned out to open it up. The case is made of plastic and it all fits very tight. This took me about an hour :)
When it was open it was easy to spot the power supply and a closer investigation showed me two electrolytic capacitors right away that looked suspicious. On the top they are not flat anymore, but it looks like their are under pressure. Usually those are the bad guys. So I took the power supply PCB with me to the local electronics shop and took new capacitors with a bit higher voltage rating than the original with me.
And here is the lot that I took out. I actually replaced all of them just to be safe. It was about 5 euro's worth of material so I could take a chance with that. Luckily the power supply PCB is a single sided one, so de-soldering the capacitors was quite easy. When the new ones were in I switched it on and nothing happened. Oops.. Did I do something wrong? Instinctively I felt all the capacitors and one got very warm. So I switched the power off immediately. And then I saw I put it in the wrong orientation. Stupid me.
I de-soldered that one again and took a new one to replace it. Again just to be on the safe side. And then I could only hope that this stupid mistake didn't break anything else. But luckily that was not the case. I guess I was quick enough powering it down again. So after that I reassembled the whole thing again. That was a lot easier by the way than taking it apart since now I understood how the construction worked. And here is another picture with a fully operational VGA monitor again :) Now back to work!
I just wanted to let you know that I'm still working hard on the Apollo project. The progress on the music is still slow, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually. I'm also still working on the 3D work for the album promo. I even took a training for Cinema 4D to learn some new things. It was very interesting to work with someone who knows the application very well and I got the opportunity to ask all the questions I had. I especially learned a lot about all the render options and how the lighting system works in the render engine.I also learned some new functions and tricks.
Armed with this new knowledge I started working on a new scene for the promo video. Here you see the Apollo capsule in the water. I told you before that I animated this to look like a real ocean, but of course the capsule has to float on top of it and move along with the waves. The teacher of the course explained to me how to do this, but it is a very tricky process I learned. It is based on the dynamics engine and that can be very random like sometimes. So I had the scene right a couple of times, but when I rendered it out it looked different. So I redid it a couple of times. I guess I have some usable takes now.
Next thing to work on was the helicopter that had to come into the scene. I got the rotors turning now, but it is hard to get it to look it moving realistically. I guess that will take some more tweaking around. The problem still is render time though. Every time I try something it takes a whole day to see the result. I guess it will be worth it in the end. As I wrote before I showed some animated shots on my stall at the E-day festival recently. The reactions were very enthusiastic so that motivates me to continue to struggle along :) More soon!
Lately Soma FM has been giving my music a lot of airplay. I'm very happy with that since Soma FM is the largest Internet streaming radio station in the World with a lot of listeners. It is a listening supported commercial free radio station. So I would say give them a listen and consider a donation if you like it. There are several channels on Soma FM with their own specialty. My music is mostly played on the channel Space Station Soma, but also sometimes on Black Rock FM. I think there is a channel there for everyone. You can find the stream on their website on this URL: http://www.soma.fm.
Please buy my music if you like what you read or hear on this blog. You will find the sales links for my music when you click an album below. You will support me and my record label so that I can release more music in the future.