Saturday, December 23, 2017

Our Comic is now online..

As I wrote about in a previous blog, doing a short comic was one of those things we have wanted to do for a long time.

And this is a short "Movie" Trailer for it.

One of the other things about it is that we had to FINISH it once we started, and we have.  Or at least finished enough to be stand alone but allow things to be continued and expanded.

We set a goal of 16 A5 pages and we have done that in under 18 weeks, as something we did on the weekends. 

Like all projects I've ever been involved with, at the end, all I ever see is the bits that can be improved, and this is no exception.  But generally I think it has been a success.

Here is the About Section explains how and why, that links to the comic itself.

I have learnt a few new things, including that Clip Studio Paint Pro/Ex is better for painting than Photoshop is, and MUCH more affordable, even if it cannot replace it.  I could have used that A story thread, B story thread, C story thread approach, but didn't.  I found keeping a small A5 notebook with me very valuable for jotting down ideas, news items, concepts and solutions. I have 52 pages of notes and sketches for this in it. And the next one will use different fonts I have bought from Blambot as they take up less effective panel space.  A few other things too... but enough for now.

If I want to print it on paper, I need a 5mm bleed, and keep things in the safe area and that isn't consistent in the current layouts. Nothing spending an hour in the CorelDraw file wouldn't fix though. I have made .cbr and a Kindle version too, and may or may not release these later.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Remix - Cara Delevingne

I picked up the REMIX issue of Computer Music, not a magazine I normally buy, and have been inspired to play around with some of the REMIX techniques it contains.  It mentions classic remixes and I confess I have never heard of any of them. I have moved in a completely different music world.

I have taken the track from Cara Delevingne - I Feel Everything. And taken a few samples from it

for a private experiment.

The original is a slow 84BPM in 7/8 time. Well that is what I've worked out and based my stuff on.

I use Reaper and that has a feature to speed an audio clip up while maintaining the original pitch.  So in my 35second test above, it starts at 84BPM, then changes to 130BPM where I've added Simmons SDS5 drums and a few other remix things.

There are people that work this way with samples as their normal production process.  Interesting, but picking up a guitar and keyboard seems more musical to me, but currently that isn't resulting in anything new, hence learning these new techniques to apply.  I rarely do anything with vocals , and that is a nice change too.

We have a collection of Megacurve tracks on Soundcloud if your interested.

And I just love Valerian.....  and "Valérian and Laureline" comic even more.

Friday, August 18, 2017

An interest in Sequential Art

The last 6 months have been a time of reflection and recovery and I have done little creative work outside existing work commitments. Have done no airbrushing or music production or the other things I would normally be doing. Haven't even picked up the guitar. I have thought about a few other things though.

We have an interest in the art of comics and above is a few of the books I have on the subject.

Also managed to be in the right place and the right time to get the very short lived OzComics "fanzine" about and for those making comics.

Drawing is something I've always done and have been studying it and Sequential Art for many years. I've also done  my share of professional technical illustrations and know they make a big difference to documentation.

You may have seen the web comics I tried my hand at:

or this:

or one of the 40+ others, but these single panel cartoons aren't Sequential Art. The usual Car Cartoon logos aren't either.

Or this either.....

Decades before these I tried my hand at Desktop Movie Production using puppets, models and Animation (and doing the sculpting, modeling, matte painting, music, audio design and voice acting)  and came to the conclusion that a far more practical thing to do, with a greater possibility of finishing something worthwhile as a part time activity was storyboards and comics. A single panel cartoon is the simplest form, and storyboards the more advanced sequential art.

Now I have recently read all of Valerian and Laureline, and years before that a few Moebius , all the Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed books and some others.  However  I could never finish Watchmen, an American classic that just bored me.  So it seems my interest in comics isn't American Mainstream.

So the point of this is I'm still thinking about creating real multi-panel multi-page comics. Probably start with a 1 page, car cartoon centered comic. The technical and drawing part isn't the hold up though. Always the story or joke to make it all worthwhile.

I'm currently "reading" the recent hardcover Moebius's The Worlds of Edena , and that the art is bold and simple compared to his other work gives me hope. Art that takes less hours to finish helps getting anything finished at all.  The problem you see with Moebius is that his art is great but his stories aren't.  Just because you can draw has no relationship to being a story teller.

In the world of Car cartooning, Dave Deal had a great influence on our own style. If you look at his output though, the only actual multi-page comic he did was on the History of Hot Rodding in CARtoons magazine.  And it wasn't really a story, but a series of illustrations with a few jokes on the development of hot rods.  The instructions for his Revell model car kits were similar. A lot like a few Japanese Owners guides I've seen.

I assume that comic story telling wasn't something that came to him naturally , and he couldn't make any money out of it anyway. Doing corporate logo work actually pays, most comics don't.

Japan must be one of the few places that comics have a wide enough market to be a normal business. Also note that manga are mostly just black and white.

The one man show thing is something of a trap, and why I guess the illustrator isn't usually the script writer, but doing it all is what is attractive to me.

Another one of those things on my todo list.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pick a Card, any Card....

These are custom Heavy Metal Garage cards we designed for a drinking game.

They look quite nice, and introduce chance into the game via illustrations and jokes. 😎

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Megacurve Album

We have over an album of material on Soundcloud, with some of our favorites organised as this AV Demo Playlist.   This is one man band stuff. Me using a computer with multi-track recorder software and a few instruments, one at a time.  Featuring real guitar, with distortion of course. One of the things we do....

There is of a mix of the heavy guitar and electronic synth based stuff. All instrumental.

Heavy Metal Garage is also the car cartoons, like here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

SD Card Corruption - even in the Raspberry Pi.

SD Cards are used everywhere, and they aren't taken care of the way USB drives are.  People are reminded with USB drives and told when they are safe to be removed, but the same handling applies to SD Cards.  The problem is SD Cards are being "yanked out" electrically, even if they remain in their slots and are not physically being removed, and the software developers never read the SD Card hardware manual on how to handle them!

SD Cards will most likely get corrupted when they are being written to, and the power goes off.   Detailed specs on the cards specifies something like, the power to the card must be maintained for 4 seconds when last written too.  This is because there is actually a micro controller in the SD card that must write, erase flash pages and do house keeping during and after the card is written to, and it needs power to complete that correctly.

What happens is if a sector is being written to when power fails is the WHOLE SD Card page (with usually many sectors) with that sector your writing too will get corrupted.   Can look like all 0s with random 1s or the other way round. This is because there is a circuits that sets the 1 and 0 thresholds on the flash page that is not set correctly if power fails.  The way sectors are allocated in a file system will mean it may not be obvious that damaged sectors belong to the same page.  You just get a corrupted file system, directory or even just a file randomly.

This corruption can happen in digital cameras when you take a picture and the battery fails during the save process. Damaging  more than just the picture you just took.

Same for your own embedded project, like an SD Card with an Arduino.

In embedded Linux boards like Beagle Boards and Raspberry Pi's it occurs as the OS is ALWAYS writing log files, and so has a good chance of doing that when you need to pull the power plug.  The only way to really stop that is issue the shutdown command so the MCU and system halts before you remove power.  Really needs a battery backed psu, as well.
That command is:  sudo shutdown -P now Only when the SD Card access LED stops flashing is it safe to remove power.

Note that the way sectors are allocated to pages means that write protecting the boot drive is meaningless.

This is the same reason if you put a SSD drive in your computer, you want the one with the fancy battery backup feature too. That keeps it powered so that it can shut down properly, even if the main power fails.

One industrial Linux MCU board supplier solves the always writing logs problem of Linux by  having battery backed ram on their boards for the system logs. That means the system flash is under no threat of corruption when power is removed from the log writing.  Of course if your application is writing to flash and the power can fail, you need a process to call shutdown and know that it has halted before power fails.

We can be contacted at Art and Technology

Friday, April 7, 2017

Getting back to normal... and the Passing of a Legend, Mr Kakehashi

We had surgery some 6 weeks ago and have been recovering.  It was way more difficult than we had been lead to believe, with just an overnight stay in hospital.  A very common procedure, but unbelievable painful for many weeks.  A complete pain in the arse.  I haven't been able to do anything for most of this time.

Well, we have still more to go, months to get back to "normal", but the discomfort is now manageable and not overpowering. We can get back to having goals that are more than just "stop the pain".   Having very limited mobility for most of a month and a half has really hurt our fitness..... something else we hadn't expected.

Last Saturday night we found out Mr Kakehashi, the founder of Roland Corporation had passed away at 87.   I spent 15 years living in Japan and working at Roland, and knew Mr K.  (Mr K in the red cardigan, me right front in picture at his home)

This is the passing of a Legend.  Before I worked for them, or anyone else, it was Roland products I wanted and actually bought.   That there was a company doing these interesting, affordable things was due to Mr K.  He was pushed out of Roland in 2013 and then formed the ATV Corporation.

There may not be that kind of company again, as Share Holder value outweighs everything else.  Maybe the end of an Era.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The REMIX. They Can Be Cool - "Can't you trip like I do?"

I first heard FILTER- "Can't you trip like I do" on the SPAWN Soundtrack Album.

All the tracks on the album were remixes, but this Filter thing didn't strike me that way. It wasn't something a DJ made.......  so I never thought of it as a remix.  At the time, I thought it was one of the heaviest things I had heard. Way more aggressive than the Deep Purple I was used too.

I still love the track. I read in some magazine a long time ago they used a 12bit Akai Sampler for the drums and had a bunch of guitars and Amps. Something about being an ex- Marilyn Manson Guitarist too, but I may not remember that correctly. I just love that guitar sound and playing.

It wasn't till only very recently I heard the crystal method original:

It was then it made sense that the track I loved actually was a remix.  But not the more typical DJ taking a metal bands  riff, and adding in beats and making it sound like hip hop or a dance track.  Jay Z's "99 Problems" and the other tracks on that SPAWN Soundtrack Album are more like that.

This Filter thing is very much the opposite. Taking the sequenced, dirty synth line, and adding rock drums, guitars and new lyrics to it.

This is something I want to try with my next creation.  To try and break out of the musical rut I've been in.   Been thinking of my versions of "Can't you trip like I do?", and "Cars".   Sampling others records was a huge legal minefield for a really long time, and probably the biggest step in the increased popularity of Sampling as a Production Technique. Means what I make will not be shared, but it may lead to something else I can.  

My current Megacurve tracks on SoundCloud .

We can be contacted at Art and Technology.

Friday, February 17, 2017


A friend passed away from Cancer last week.

This wasn't unexpected, but a shame. A real shame.

I was talking with him on Facebook over the New Year break and he apologized for talking a while to reply sometimes. The treatment really knocked him about.

His prints are still left in various place, such as on YouTube and a Blog as if he was still around.. So in Memory Of Greg, here is one of his creations, made in his backyard shed:

I met him through a Zine he was publishing. I just happened to come across it in a specialist bookstore on a quick trip back to Australia.  The Galaxy Bookstore.  I hadn't seen a Zine before, and just bought it on a whim.   Serendipity.

I can think of what a chance occurrence that was, and that it shouldn't have happened, but got to know this guy and his world.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Revisiting a track from 2009 - Have a Really Good Year

I did this track called Have a Really Good Year Dec 26th 2009 .

It is something I  shared again with my Facebook "friends" yesterday.  Looks like it got 6 partial plays, which is way better than the response I usually get on Facebook, a platform I mostly think is a waste of time and a scam, but haven't given it up.

The vocal is pretty much me doing a Rorschach (a character in Watchmen) speaking thing, on the

media loves Shock and Horror, the trouble in the Middle East, the Financial Crisis and a few other things that were "news" in 2009, and are still the cliches Neoliberal media and politicians roll out ..

I just a link to the original track, but I also did another version. I have moved to a new computer since then and only installed the most useful VSTs, so it needed a new reverb and organ configured.

I use ValhallaVintageVerb now and that was all fine, but ezDrummer said it wasn't Authorized.  It worked 2 weeks ago.  But since then a Lightning storm has taken out the Ethernet on my PC and I had put in a new Ethernet card instead.  That has changed my PC as far as Toontracks was concerned, but hadn't effected products by Izotope or anyone else. Ok just re-register, done it twice before, easy.

Short story version is your forced to use a new Toontracks thing called PM which is broken and will waste your time to get it working again.... and that really kills the vibe in working on something!

So Have a Really Good Year 

Terrible Software User Experience - Toontracks PM Authorization.

Don't you just hate it when a product you bought stuffs you around when you need it. Not complaining about the need for registration.  But having to do it 3 times for the life of the product, and it not working the 3rd time is the issue.

Being forced to install a new authorization application, then it doesn't actually work is very poor Software Management.   How would I know?  I've had to do it, and I got it right.