Groovebox Music’s Reason Training Videos

October 16th, 2005
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Earlier this year, Groovebox Music introduced a series of video tutorials for Reason which are accessed through a subscription website. For quite sometime now, I’ve been in contact with Asa Doyle of Groovebox Music, and I’ve finally had a chance to go through and check things out.

The video tutorials are nice large 800×600 screen animation captures in Quicktime Movie format with a voiceover explaining the procedure as well as audio from Reason. The video animation medium is great educational delivery system and allow viewers to see mouse movements, which buttons to click, menu item selections, and at the same time, hear the audio feedback from the software.

As reason has evolved over the years, it still has a few idiosyncrasies that people, especially new users, have difficulty understanding, and these video tutorials are a way to learn by watching someone else use the software. The pace will most likely languish the seasoned user, but this is quite suitable for those who are just learning the software. The comprehensive content range covers the general Reason controls and operating procedures.

The only criticism I might add is that there are spans of time where you view absolutely no movement during the movie, and must concentrate on the dialogue only. These periods could benefit from a few splash pages that add visual cues to help people visualize what the dialogue is explaining. Of course, if you miss something, you can simply drag the progress bar back on the quicktime movie and repeat that portion of the tutorial. There are several free example chapters available, and all you need a is a fairly fast connection.

Site V4•0 going beta

October 13th, 2005

After several weeks of working with wp, i reasonably confident that the new peff dot com site is ready to go live. There is still quite a bit of content missing which will take many weeks to transfer into the database, but the important content is still available.

Thanks to Hami for a giving me the crash course on CSS and wp, and thanks to Paul for directing me to the PNG transparency hack for IE windows.

So with that welcome to the new site! Version 4 has been planned for well over a year, and I’ve been tinkering with designs for well over 2 years. It’s still not too complicated, but at least i know “how” it works and can maintain it without relying on others.

As far as browser compatibility is concerned, i’ve only tested it on Firefox, Safari, and IE 6, and i’m still not confident that pages will render properly in IE. Please bear with me on this, and drop a comment if you find a problem.

Diving Monterey Bay

October 11th, 2005
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After years of talking about doing it, my friend, Mike, and I finally managed to take a dip into the waters of Monterey Bay. This was a first for both of us. It’s been a few years since I had scuba dived, and for me this was my first shore entry. This was also the first time I had to use a full body wetsuit. Mike, on the other hand, is a pretty experienced diver and worked with the coast guard. You can’t ask for a better dive partner than that! The day was perfect. Monterey Bay was calm, the water was glassy, and the fog had lifted by the time we rented our gear and hit the beach. Sounds like it would be a great day for a dive, but that’s where the day started going horribly wrong.

I have to admit, that I’ve been spoiled with my experiences with boat dives in the tropics, and I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of effort involved with carrying weights, tanks, and all of the apparatus a few hundred yards from the truck to the beach. By the time we were suited up and in the water, I was pretty exhausted. My inexperience with cold water also took it’s toll, and the shock of the water temperature (50°F/10°c) took it’s toll and my respiration shot up. We managed to work our way out to the kelp beds, and prepared to descend. Loaded down with 30+ lbs of weight, a massive tank and a fullbody wetsuit, should have made sinking pretty easy, but both of us would attempt to go down, and would simply float back up. As I later discovered, there’s a strata of high salinity on the top of bay waters. Eventually we managed to get the hang of descending with a kick start. Actually, i was suprised that the water temperature was quite comfortable, and not as cold as I had imagined.

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Mike and I made it down to the _Dangerous_ depths of about 20 feet (woo!) and started to see the sandy shelf covered with star fish and various creatures that zipped around between little holes like mini Dune-ish worms. The new problem was the limited visibility. We could only see about a meter, and we had to stay in arms reach which made it difficult to maneuver about and explore. Even Mike with his experience wasn’t too comfortable diving blind, and there’s no fun in not being able to see anything interesting if you dive. I came across a cute little jelly fish on my ascent, but other than that, I didn’t see much.

By the time we got back to shore, I was spent. We had to fight a bit of an undertow to get back on the beach, and in the process I lost my mask. That ended the day. Despite having only gone through 70% of one tank, we were out in the bay for a few hours, and it seemed worth the effort, but there was no way I could do a second dive.

At least I can say that i’ve done it now. I’m not against trying it again, but next time I think I will opt for a boat dive with an experienced crew who know where to go see interesting things - with better visibility.

Site V4.0 progress

October 9th, 2005

After numerous tries, everything is almost finished with the site templates running on Wordpress.Thanks to Hami and others who have given me a crash course in CSS and tweaking WP, things have come together faster than i imagined.

I’m still dealing with the issue of the messageboard. I’ve set up the DC script template page with hacks of the page elements from the wordpress pages, but it’s pretty brutal. In an effort to get everything working properly, I’ve put the site online to see how it will function with the messageboard. This will be a temporary situation to see how it works. I might need to upgrade to the PHP version of the board from dcscripts.

The other concern is the IE6 for windows incompatibility with png images. There is only one instance of a png employed on the site, but it’s for the main logo on the masthead. I tried to gif it, but it looked horrible due to the slight alpha channel shadow. What’s worse, something in the stylesheet really tweaks out rendering. I can live with the funky image, but the bad formatting is unacceptable.

The rotating masthead concept seemed cool at first, but the images reload on each page-it slows down the page rendering process. I’m still deciding whether or not this should remain. The rotating image script is from Matt Mullenweg. Despite the time factor, it is cool to see the pages change :-)

Moving the Publishing System

October 4th, 2005

Well, let’s see how this works. I’m attempting to move over the wordpress system from the subdomain into the main page along with my template tweaks. I know the database will stay intact, but moving the tertiary files over might not… Fingers Crossed!

Visit to Electronic Arts

October 3rd, 2005
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I took a little trip today to visit my friend, Rich who works at Electronic Arts for a game team that developed the upcoming James Bond title. The game is done and is getting ready for X-mas release, so he’s got a bit of downtime to recover from the months of work.

Rich gave me the quick tour of the EA campus and the audio facilities. They have a couple of nice rooms for editing and recording, but for the most part, the audio guys have workstations (more like coat rooms) where they edit and program cues. He showed me the game and the tools used to develop the sound cues and loops, along with the really cool surround pan/virtual microphone system as well as a game world sound placement application. It’s really quite amazing how the game takes bits of the orchestral soundtrack material that loop until different events occurred in the game. After seeing the editing application, i’ve found a new respect for the people who slave for hours over this tedious task.

I saw some interesting things including the Microsoft Xbox Devkits which are really G5 Towers as well as the debug units which display processed events as the game progresses. The game definitely looks great, and it’s cool to hear the voiceovers from Sean Connery!

Triptronic TL Series Combis

October 2nd, 2005

I’ve finally finished up the second longer Triptronic TL24 Combinator patch along with a few example files and posted them up on the Reason Files pages.

These effects are tape loop configurations that emulate a technique of a long tape loop setup concocted by Brian Eno and used extensively by Robert Fripp, commonly called “Frippertronics.” These are intended for experimental ambient loop sampling, so synchronization is not enabled – it’s about generating an unconventional looping vibe.

The effect patches are limited to a maximum of eight seconds (TL8) and 24 seconds (TL24), by using ganged pairs of DDL-1 Digital delay lines. Extra delay lines can be inserted in the chain to extend the delay time, and modulation routings should be assigned to delay time and enable parameters. The Delay Lines are paired to create a stereo signal path, and pan modulation of the incoming signal adds an interesting motion characteristic.

TL Series Control Parameters

DELAY TIME control universally controls the delay time of all four delay lines, so delay time is a factor of 4. Delay time ranges from 4 milliseconds to 8000 milliseconds with the TL8 and from 24ms to 24 seconds with the TL24. Changing Delay time will create pitch shift artifacts, but this setting should be set before feeding the patch signals.

RECORD LEVEL controls the feedback level from the last delay output feeding into first delay line.

MONITOR LEVEL controls a dry level that passes through the effect. If the patch is connected as a send effect, this control should be set to zero.

TAPE SPEED is a fidelity control that filters off frequency range using a Scream 4 Tape Saturation algorithm. This parameter is only available in “Tape” mode. This control also modulates the TAPE HISS generator.

STOP DELAY Switch immediately shuts down the delay devices and feedback loop. This button resets the sample loop.

DIGITAL TAPE Switch toggles between a clean, purely digital sample loop signal and an effected “Tape” simulation sample loop signal.

COMPRESSION Switch changes the Compression amount when the TL8 is in “Tape” mode. Disabled is a low compression setting, and enabled is a moderate compression setting.

TAPE HISS Switch enables the noise generator that simulates tape hiss. A SubTractor Synthesizer perpetually generates a low-level noise signal that combines with input signals and feeds back through the loop circuit. The Tape Speed rotary control will shapes the noise characteristics.