Midnight Sun, Arctic Moon

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creating the Video
I spent yesterday in the studio of Brad Shaw of www.Showreelz.com putting together the video trailer for the book. Brad is a really great editor who makes collaboration a lot of fun. He recorded my audio voice-over in his home studio, and then we selected the pictures and dropped them into the sound where they seemed to go the best. He also dropped in the background music, and coordinating the voice over with the pictures and the background music was a really fun creative endeavor. It took a little over 6 hours to make the 2 1/2 minute video clip. It is a delight to work with such a talented editor and I was really pleased that at the end of the session, we had a video clip that looked and sounded the way I wanted it to come out. I hope it gives people an accessible multi-media advance taste of the book.

The background music I used for the video trailer is a story in itselt. This was a piano piece I composed years ago. I had recorded myself playing it on a creaky tape casette a week before my wedding back in 1979, and then played the tape on a battery-operated casette player on the day in an old ski lodge up on top of Ester Dome outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. I had found the old tape in my attic in a shoe box while I was digging up photos for the book. It had sat in that shoe box untouched for at lealst 30 years. I wasn't sure of the quality of the tape after so many years, so I only played it once and re-recorded it (on a digital zoom recorder). Then about a month ago, I took the digitized recording of the tape recording to Abbey Road Studio in London to get it remastered and cleaned up.

Oh my, getting into Abbey Road Studio is quite an experience. They don't do tours. The only way to get inside is to book a recording or mastering session. A recording session is pretty expensive (roughly a thousand dollars) but to book a mastering session and get an already-recorded track cleaned up isn't nearly as painful on the wallet. Normally for an editing job, I would take it to Brad at Showreelz, but for a one-time treat, I decided to have this little track cleaned up  at the ground zero of all recording venues. For a recording studio, the security at Abbey Road Studio is very tight, and as I signed the guest book to get in for my scheduled session, I had to wonder who else was in that guest book. No doubt my little signature was in some very good company.

I was told in advance that the mastering session would be held in a very small room, and I could only bring one or possibly two collaborators with me. I brought my daughter Amy, who is in her last year at university working on a degree in music promotion, and also my friend Lisa who is a really talented singer (www.LisaTheVoice.com). We all felt a tremendous sense of history as we walked into the studio for our scheduled session. 

Simon Gibson did a great job of cleaning up my recording of a recording, where you could hear the piano bench squeaking whenever I had moved up and down the keyboard. He could not only hear the extraneous sounds but see them on his video monitor that showed the wave lengths of the various sounds. Then he would capture the errant sound it on the video screne and erase it. When he would play it back to check, sure enough, the squeaky piano bench noise was gone. The use some very impressive and sophisticated sound editing software and it was a delight to see a master at his craft do his thing on my little song.

It took about an hour to clean up the 5-minute track and get it as good as it could be, given the way it was recorded, on a cheap battery-powered portable casette recorder (no external mike) that I had put on the floor next to the piano. Then I paid for the session and we came out.

There were people at the Abbey Road zebra crossing (there usually are) taking pictures. When they saw us come out, me with my freshly-cut cd in hand, the tourists lined up to take pictures of us. Cameras going off everwhere. I didn't realize why until later. Apparently they thought my daughter, wearing her usual funky style, looked like a rap star. And my friend Lisa, playing along, shielded her from the cameras, as if she was the agent of a really hot star who didn't want publicity. And me with my disk -- well, I looked like the hired help there to carry the goods so the rap star didn't get her hands dirty.

It was a great day, and a real kick to bring this little piece of Alaska to Abbey Road Studio, and have them put their special touch on it.

Yesterday was another great day, as we put all the pieces together to make this little video trailer, to craft this little glimpse of my Alaska, and send it out on the web to wherever it wants to go.

6:24 am est 


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