Friday, January 26, 2018

Dream - The Music and The Video

 After making 2 comics in our Terraform world, we have made a song inspired by the endeavor.

Dream is about building and entering a world, with the aim of improving the world.  It is one of the first tracks we have done with actual singing in it, and has the theme of "dreaming can set us free".

Dreaming to escape your daily drudgery most find ourselves in, but more importantly to Dream the solutions and then actually change the world for the better.

My vocals were recorded with a Audio Technica AT2020 condenser mic. These were processed with their own separate inline, compressor and reverb plugins.  It isn't your standard Verse Chorus repeat twice, bridge another Verse Chorus then finish.  Even though it has lots of guitar, I also didn't put a guitar solo in it and tried to move that to the synths and use "unusual" not pop synth  sounds.  Just trying to be different from what I would naturally do.....  even though someone I played it to immediately said something like ... another of my stuck in the 80s tracks. So be it. 😅

Along with the song we have made a video using our very old Android phone as a video camera with scenes of making the music track and the comic, and the short story after it. The video images are no where near as good as the still images though so haven't as yet uploaded it to our YouTube channel with the current edit.

The Reaper track and plugins...

The inked blue pencil panels that were scanned and colored...

The droid puppet used in the short story...

The black only A5 printed comic short...

The comics can be found at Art and Technology.

The song Dream, and others, can be found at Megacurve on SoundCloud

Monday, January 1, 2018

Imposition for Printing and a Small Rpi File Server

In our end of year break, we completed a couple of short comics and setup a small Rpi Samba file server with an Apache web server with php to help out.

We have been involved with Rpi development for some months but hadn't actually made an SD Card from scratch. So to have that complete Raspberry Pi experience we made a Raspbian-Jessie Lite SD Card. We wanted it to be headless, so we turned on SSH, then used the Advanced IP Scanner tool to find it on my local network, change the password, and set up the other tools.

The problem I'm very aware of is SD Card corruption. The way to stop  that is to execute the command  shutdown before removing power in a Rpi system. Means you need battery back up. SD Cards need to have power maintained for 4 seconds (it is in the SD Card spec no one has bothered to read but me) after a write to avoid corruption, and Linux is always writing log files for everything....all the time.

Doing anything with a Rpi involves Googling how to do it then follow the instructions.  It is an educational toy, so all the standards are covered.

For the comic I used a desktop system for the actual development, but to print it like a 'Zine', I used a laptop I have a Lazer printer connected to. The Samba directory just shows up on both machines in the Network, and dropping and dragging files is faster than using Web based Drive (and we hate the Drive tool that copies everything locally), or accessing the 'Public' folders on each machine which also duplicates the files.

The Rpi File Server was Fast and simple enough, but it isn't the master file copy in this case.... don't trust the SD Card it is on.

I do have an older WD 500MB drive I could use with the Rpi. The Rpi can support the NTFS file system and have Samba directories on it.  But it needs more power than the Rpi USB can provide, and getting a powered USB hub is a bit much.   The easiest solution for me would be to hack the short USB drive cable, so that the USB power isn't coming from the Rpi USB connector, but from the +5VDC and GND on the HAT connector.   Haven't bothered to do this yet.

Now the real technical issue is Imposition for Printing.  I designed these comics to be printed as A5 books. This is one of the larger Japanese styled formats.  So print double sided A4, so when the pages are folded in half and stapled,  you get the typical A5 'Zine' as in the photo above.

So I had to do the double sided printing manually, get the right A5 page number on the right section of each A4 sheet, and take into account the printers boarder, and that we would not be using the bleed and printing to the page edges. 

A small dummy 1/4 size book cut from a single sheet of A4 with all the file numbers on each page helped to get everything in the right place for the 16 page Terraform main story.

So for the 16 page Terraform, we made 8, A4 pages, each containing the correct 2 A5 pages, so that when we printed the first 4 pages, put them back in the paper tray, then printed the last 4 pages, we had everything printed double sided and in the correct order for folding and stapling.   

But the reason for doing it at all, is thinking there is something worth saying..... on issues that impact us all.

The online versions on these comics can be found at Art and Technology.