Monday, December 31, 2012

Peter Bryant - CAN-AM Challenger and the UOP Shadows

Have read this book, CAN-AM Challenger, over the break. Amazing. But the story for me goes back a very long way.  And the ending of the book strikes a chord with me now.

The UOP Shadows where something I followed as a kid in Autosport Magazine in 1971 and 1972.  The UOP machines were one of the stand outs to me of the era.  Over 14 years ago that inspiration, Pete Lyons Books, and the availability of some 1/43 starting kits allows me to put together some very detailed, small models of the cars.  I also wrote up what I did to put them together. Posted them to a car site in 2001, after leaving Japan and getting settled in Australia.

Peter Bryant emailed me in Feb 2002 on the making of articles on his two main Shadow cars.

"Hi Adrian, My name is Peter Bryant. I surfed into your web page about the 43rd scale model of the Turbo Shadow.
 I must say that it looks really nice, I can believe it took 4 months to do.  If you have read Pete Lyons Book CAN-AM Photo History you will have recognized my name.  I also have a small web Page at
I designed the Shadow 30 years ago and it makes me feel good to see that the car still draws peoples interest. Congratulations on making such a nice looking mode.
Best regards   Peter Bryant"

I was very happy to get this at the time, and see that it meant something to him.  Unfortunately, Peter has since passed away.

These articles are still at the GMPA site.

The Shadow Mk2 article at GMPA

The Shadow Mk3 article at GMPA

The contact details are very out of date.

I find it very interesting that to Peter the cars didn't win and didn't think things were working out, but to the sponsor UOP, they saw their involvement as a great success.  
I was just one in the crowd, and to me UOP was doing the most amazing things.   It is very true that you don't always see that at the time.

I was doing this modelling at a rather stressful time in my working life at Roland in Japan, and the effort I put into it indicates how much I was trying to distract myself from it.

Shadow MkIII 

A story itself on a completely different subject, and a bit like the end of Peters book.

Shadow MkIII 
I am also very proud of a music production system I developed over 30 years ago, the Fairlight Instruments CMI III, and can empathise with Peter's email when the system gets mentioned by someone somewhere.

Fairlight Instruments CMI Series III

Contact us at Art & Technology.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

VST Reverb Plugins (Free and Affordable )

In our projects we DI guitar and bass. Every thing else is a VST sound module or synth.   Even doing direct injection, which doesn't pick up any acoustic environment, reverb isn't a big thing in most of my own projects. I am more likely to us short delays instead of reverb so as not to add mud to the mix.  We don't do vocals often, where you do fuss about the reverb.

But when we do need reverb, there are plenty of free Reverb Plugins that do the trick, and there are LOTS of Impulses Responses on the net that do everything when used with the right plugin.

We use Reaper, and do everything ourselves, and aren't into huge projects. At least that has been the case so far. We keep it to a track or two for each part, plus a track or two for reverb, and generally one or two for delays  for short and long echo.

We recently used our Crystal Soup Project to look at all the reverbs we do have and see if we have been over looking something in our reverb selection.

The Crystal Bass Soup Project
The plugins we have on hand that we have used on occasion are Kaejerhus Classic Reverb, epicVerb, GlaceVerb, ReaVerb, SIR1 and Ambience. These are all free and downloadable from the web. We have also recently tried the Demo of ValhallaRoom. 
ValhallaRoom Demo
Kaejerhus Classic Reverb

Of these ReaVerb and SIR1 don't have a sound of their own, but use Impulse Responses of other gear or rooms.   We basically use what you get in Lexicon MPX500-PCM81-PCM-91.rar with a few other plates and rooms you can find on the Internet.  The SIR1 has an EQ window, but we prefer using ReaEQ anyway, so ReaVerb, despite being very spartan, is just as good, and is part of Reaper any way.

More often than not Kaejerhus Classic Reverb is the algorithmic plugin of choice. For what I mainly do, there isn't really much difference between them! Not that they sound the same, but each is just as valid.  Once you make an mp3 file, or a YouTube video, the subtle low level details get lost anyway.

ValhallaRoom is only $50, which is similar to the Reaper license. It works very well and is very efficient, an issue if you have some CPU intensive synth and do want several processes running at the same time.   I haven't bought it, and really know that I don't need it.  It will not make any difference to the tracks I do anyway.

We have our tracks on the usual places;  SoundCloudReverbNation and BandCamp.   But the most views  by a factor close to a 100x is at our YouTube Channel.

Update: Jan 8 2013

ValhallaVintageVerb Demo
We have since been trying the ValhallaVintageVerb, and feel it has something over the ValhallaRoom, and the other plugin we have, for our music.  It indicates that the non NOW colors internally quantize modulation and other control signals and band limit the reverb itself.  These give options over Room and does very much look like the plugin to buy. Actually more than that.....

And from the developer:

"NONE of the algorithms are the same. The ValhallaRoom algorithms, for the most part, use a more "modern" topology (there are a bunch of different topologies in ValhallaRoom, but they all tend to be from more contemporary "schools" of reverb design). The ValhallaVintageVerb algorithms are all based on older reverb topologies, that have different characteristics than the VRoom algorithms."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'71 Muscle Car Restoration Cartoon Caricature

Muscle Car Restoration. Lost the dog and wife, but the car is finished!
It goes something like this...... restoring a car lets the guy cope with the pressures of life in his man cave.  The Job, The kids, the wife and everything else.....

And you can get the tshirt at our online store.

For custom illustrations and other work, see Art & Technology.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Custom 1955 Ford Pickup Hot Rod Cartoon - Vector Design

Custom 1955 Ford Pickup Hot Rod Cartoon

Custom 1955 Ford Pickup Hot Rod cartoon - Vector Design
A fire breathing, tire smoking Custom 1955 Ford Pickup Hot Rod, Pickup & Go!.  A vector design sample.  

For custom design, t-shirts, signs, and other designs, see the website Art & Technology

Friday, December 14, 2012

Humorous Office Coffee Mugs

Office Coffee Mugs
Office Coffee Mugs

We have done a few Office cartoons to help with office morale, the project handover process, clients and the treatment of the technical staff.

Really, the perfect gift idea.  Any similarity to reality is purely a coincidence.

See our online store to purchase, or Art & Technology for custom artwork.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

American Custom Car Starship Poster Vector Designs

American Custom Car Starship Posters
This is a preview of a series of American Custom car Starship Vector Designs.

Based on Cadillacs and a Lincoln Zephyr, they depict something a bit ZZTOP-ish with a back to the future feel.  Combining car illustration and science fiction design.

Custom work available from the website Art & Technology.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Megacurve Starship A2 Poster - Classic Car Spaceship

Megacurve Starship A2 Poster Sample
A sample vector based poster for Band Megacurve featuring a Cadillac inspired space ship and a wonderful blue space gas cloud.  Very much a cars and guitars ZZTop vibe.

And they sound like:

This is a vector design for printimg at A2 size, but can really be printed at any size..

For other samples see the website Art & Technology.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

1959 Cadillac American Classic Starship Vector Design

1959 American Classic Starship
American Classic Cars of the late 1950s were inspired by the future, with fins, wings, jets and boldly going.  Here is a Starship based on that idea.

It is now available as Starship - Future 1959

For other design and custom work see Art & technology.

Monday, December 3, 2012

History of Cool Stuff - Limited Animation Videos

We put together some short,  minimally animated edutainment videos a year ago to see what interest, if any there was in this format.

We set out to try and explain some historically cool stuff with ,"blackboard" images, narration and a host.  Could we do a "History Of Cool Stuff" series?

We came up with some theme music to use through out the episodes. It isn't Top Gear's "Jessica", but as I wrote, performed and recorded it, I don't have to pay any fees to use it.

Wrote is a bit strong a word.  I basically press record, play something on the spot, then arrange and Jam to that to produce this type of thing. Always start with a tempo and guide track put together in ezdrummer. It only has the number of tracks a live band would have playing it, but I do several takes of different parts and edit them together.

Sounds like this:

I worked out a basic script, based on the format I had come up with, which is:

1) A consistent intro and ending with the animated talking head host. There is some basic lip sync.
2) A series of white on black images with limited animation, with narration from the unseen host.  This is to explain some historic sequence of technology.

This seemed like a fair compromise in production effort to get something out in some part of two days, our usual time frame. A bit more than the slide shows we had been doing, and way less work than full animation.

We started by recording and editing the narration against the music track, handling the music ducking in our Reaper DAW.  The Vocal was recorded with a Audio Technica AT2020 microphone and stocking pop filter.

Reaper Narration Audio Project

This gave us the basic lengths of visual scenes required.

We then did a series of black pen on white paper sketches for the required sequences. These where scanned into Photoshop and inverted to look more like chalk on a blackboard.  Didn't worry about making them perfect.

The talking head of our host Rodger was produced as a series of layers in Photoshop, from a single basic pose produced in CorelDraw. These frames with different eye and mouth positions where saved out as individual images. His look is based on an English motor sport hero, Graham Hill, of the late '60s and 70s.

A very basic arrangement of audio and image frames where then put together in Sony Movie Studio.

Initially without any animation at all. Just all still images and this was edited to be the foundations to start the animation.

Complete Video Project
Rodger is basically animated by dragging different facial frames on an upper visual layer.

Rodger Animation Frames
We only prepared 9 different mouth positions, with a traditional lip sync breakdown.

Mouth positions for lip sync

In this video, additional animation of the blackboard images was produced in After Effects. It wasn't really required, and adds extra complication as After Effects CS4 doesn't handle sound sync very well.

After Effects Animation Sequences

Additional frames and animation where brought back into Movie Studio and moved around on the time line there. This is MUCH faster to do.

The result is this:

It is supposed to be interesting and educational.

We have done two videos so far. One on Aerodynamics and one on Turbocharging. What we found is the videos receive few views.  We expected the thumbnail image could be improved and have tried several, with little change in views.
The subject mater doesn't appear to be something that is searched for on YouTube, but we really don't know.  We haven't done anything else along these lines since.

Would making full animation and colour images help? Probably, but a LOT more work, and we haven't wanted to go down that road without any ROI.

The first one on Aerodynamics that set the format is a little simpler

Other work samples at our website  Art & Technology

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Abby Sciuto & '32 Ford Deuce - NCIS Vector Design

Abby Sciuto  & '32 Ford Deuce - NCIS
This combines several cool things into a single vector cartoon caricature illustration.  TV's favourite tattooed Scientist, Goth and Metal Head, Abby Sciuto, and her 1932 Ford Deuce Hot Rod.  Just love that MINISTRY remix of the NCIS theme.

It is all fiction, but a very interesting part of NCIS's producer playing against type.

This is a sample of a more realistic cartoon person with car, but still done as a vector illustration.

More info at our website, Art & Technology.