©Will Spicher 2010
April 25, 2010
Here is the main video, hosted on YouTube (or click here for the YouTube window):
Note: window is sized for 480p resolution.
Here is a link to the full high-definition file. At 400Mb, it takes a half hour to download via DSL.
Here is an alternate version, also hosted on YouTube, showing me tracking the
click here for the YouTube window).
This is Take Five, from which most of the final cut was taken. It begins with two false starts, after which I figure out a technical hurdle and finally get into the groove.
In October, I already knew this web site (and this soul and this house) were overdue for some fun. I needed to lighten up, and I thought I should do so together with the boys. On his birthday, Aaron had money burning a hole in his pocket. His usual response to such a situation is to frequent the video game section in Wal-Mart, but he didn't find the game he was looking for. However, he found Section 8. It looked like a game of Iron Men robots fighting each other on different planets. When he brought it home, I decided I would get to know the game along with him and his brother, Luke, as a way of connecting with them. So the three of us embarked on the world of Massively Multi-player Online (MMO) gaming. After video-card updates, a new power supply, and, frankly, a completely new PC (I needed it for music production, you see), we were banding together with players from all over the world in places known as Land's End, Invasion Point, Nuclear Dawn, and, my favorite, Blackstone Marsh. Together we fought for Control Points and contested each other in Dynamic Combat Missions (DCM's). In the process, the boys and I developed our own little "code" of jargon by which everyday-life events took on the animated language of Section 8; for example, "time to catch the bus" became "convoy mission activated"--LOL. Admittedly, I had been affected by negative stereotypes toward online gaming; but, as is usually the case after I witness something first hand, my perspective changed. Here was a world where friendships were formed and tested (albeit, long-distance), sportsmanship was developed, communication and computer skills grew, and enormous fun was had with a keyboard and a mouse. This song and video was a way to express and remember my gratitude for these delightful days we have been enjoying together.
The WillSongs Guitarsenal welcomes a new member: The Carvin DC400M. Actually, I bought this a year ago as the ultimate worship axe (forgive the metaphor) with dual humbuckers, coil splitters, phase reversal, active AND passive electronics, and........ Anyway, it works great. Between it and Mission Control, I have not yet found a sound I could not achieve (especially since I learned the trick of overdriving the tube with the output from the compressor)!
The seed for the song came from a discipline I am glad I adopted: I catalog ideas I get that are impressive but not captivating or mature enough to write an entire song around at the time. This one appeared in the idea list on 23-July-2008. It had the perfect feel I was looking for--after a sufficient dose of edgification. When I tried it on the DC400M with the neck pickup set to single-coil mode, I knew I had found the magic that captured the in-your-face-guitar attitude I was looking for (as a friend pointed out, "think S-R-V"). This had the right sound for single notes as well as a bright grunge on a power-chord I rediscovered from my adolescence: The dreaded E-minor-eleventh (E-B-E-A-D-G). I actually began recording the song in early October, before the thought occurred to me to dedicate it to our gaming fun, and quickly decided the format would be a Power Trio--nothing but bass, drums, and guitar with few effects to ease the edgy impact.
But I soon discovered I had bit off more than I could chew when I picked up the bass and heard notes that I could no longer play (I am not a bass player, you see). I set myself to a daily regimen that included my favorite (and most challenging) bass lines from my teen years when I could really play (view example). Five long months later I was finally ready to track.
Then the guitar line proved equally challenging: I was hearing more notes that I could not reach. Now the regimen moved to the DC400M for a month and a half. Thus, it took seven months to finally create this cute little rocker!
Then there was the video! What a project this three-minute song turned into! As any casual perusal of this website will show, I have zero real experience with video. But the other game players answered questions on the forum and pointed me to FRAPS, a tool for capturing gaming video footage. With a 1920-by-1080-pixel monitor, the files were huge; 80 minutes of footage spread across 117 files occupying 220Gb between two hard drives! The editing task was ominous. I began by cataloging the footage and prioritizing (see spreadsheet). Then I purchased Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9, a very impressive piece of software for the $85, and I embarked on the agony of cutting out great footage that just wouldn't fit into the 3-minute slot. As a final touch, I pre-pended and appended the footage with a "convoy mission," and I am now a YouTuber!
The second video came from the abandoned idea of including a miniature frame with footage of me tracking along with the game footage. When I decided not to pursue this, I made a mix of the song containing only take five and synchronized it with the footage taken by my Canon PowerShot A720 IS. I like the candid view of me struggling with the technology of getting music produced.