Wednesday, January 30, 2008

disintegrated einstein.



When I first graduated college and moved to Connecticut I spent (wasted) a year of my life recording an "album" under the band name "Disintegrated Einstein." It first started out as a joke and I had this crazy idea about selling original songs on Ebay, which never happened. What did happen is that I had fun making these songs up all on my own.


This is where it all went down. Collinsville, Connecticut circa 2001.

Back in 1999, mp3.com allowed you to sell CD's and post music anyone could listen to for free. Since there weren't as many music sites, it actually got a lot of traffic. I felt weird listing my music under my name because I felt like people would be more open and objective about a band's music rather than one guy.


Jesus Christ, Doc. You...

So I created this fake band and made up the names of all the people in the band. Our bass player was Ren McCormick - Kevin Bacon's character in Footloose. The guitar player was Paul Proteus - from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. And the drummer was Holly Star - this came from the movie the Big Lebowski which was filmed at the now defunct Hollywood Star bowling alley in LA. In some of the shots you can see "Holly Star" written on the bowling balls. It was kinda fun having this alter ego. I had a mailing list and would even send out "band updates" sometimes as if written from different members of the band.


I didn't paint the album cover, Chris Ryniak did.

If you're curious about what any of this stuff sounds like, you can find the album at I-Tunes. If you click the following link I-Tunes should automatically open.

Disintegrated Einstein -- Tell Your Friends




It's got all the tracks from the original 2001 album as well as 9 new tracks -- demos, unfinished songs and just plain ol' bad early stuff. The song "My Street Corner" is the first song I ever recorded and it's a mess because I played the drums live and I'm all out of time throughout the whole song.

A few years back I did a cover of "Czar" by Frank Black as part of a Frank Black tribute album as well as designing the album cover. I always liked how "Czar" flowed right into "Old Black Dawning" on the original album, so I actually included the opening bars of OBD at the end. You can download the mp3 from the link below for free.

Disintegrated Einstein -- Czar.mp3

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

cinematic titanic.



For the last few weeks I've been waiting in anticipation. Anticipation I haven't felt since seeing the words "to be continued" at the end of Back to the Future back in 1985 or the first time I heard the familiar "DA DA DA DA DUM" music and saw all that fire in the Terminator 2 teaser trailer. I'm talking about that anticipation you feel when you find out that the thing you love, that you thought was over and done with...is about to live again.

That's how I felt in early December when I read that Joel Hodgson and the original gang from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were getting back together again. Those voices we first heard in the age of New Coke, B.U.M. Equipment and Forenza sweaters were once again going to be making comments during old-school sci-fi flicks under the moniker -- Cinematic Titanic.



As soon as I saw the following trailer, I knew I must have it.



I couldn't wait. I immediately ordered my copy of "The Oozing Skull" and waited...and waited...and waited. This afternoon a little white envelope FINALLY came to my door containing a little ol' disc that looks like this:



I literally went to my mailbox, ripped open the envelope and put it right into the DVD player. I feel like I'm a kid again. I love it. It has so much of what I loved about MST3K. It has this "live" feel, everyone is overlapping each other, having fun and most importantly -- it's FUNNY.

I'll admit I'm biased. I first found MST3K back when I was in 8th grade. It was on "The Comedy Channel" that later became "Comedy Central." I loved everything about it, especially the low production value which helped me connect to the show. It made me feel like I was the only person in the world who knew about it and was watching it. I loved that. Something about the DVD arriving in a plain white envelope complete with low rent DVD menu (a still image of the disc label itself) had a familiar "homemade" charm that was apparent in MST3K all the way down to their planet logo that looked like a ball of silly string painted primer gray.



During this first season (which I guess will never be on DVD) I wrote a letter to MST3K and drew a very crappy picture of Joel and the bots. It actually got read on the air and I still have the VHS of it. It followed the movie Moon Zero Two. Here it is:



I suppose I'm pre-destined to automatically love Cinematic Titanic. So there, I admit it. It also makes me pre-destined to resist the new things like "A female voice in the mix?!! Whassup with that?" (No offense Mary Jo.) Still, 20 minutes in and I warmed up to her the way I warmed up to that other guy who does Servo probably because lo and behold...they're both funny people. (I'll admit I never couldn't get on board with Mike hosting the show. I know, I know he was head writer for years...it just wasn't the same for me without Joel. I completely blame my biases and not the talented man, myth and legend who is Michael J. Nelson.



One thing different about Cinematic Titanic is seeing a movie in its entirety. They do freeze frame it a couple times for a gag or two, but without the commercial breaks, skits, intros, outros and the 'this has movie modified for television' edits that MST3K had...it runs out of steam around the one hour mark. It's the fault of the original movie itself, not the CT gang. I do look forward to seeing what they come up with to help this as the series develops (I call it a series because I don't know what else to call it.)

Another thing I was looking forward to was some sort of premise explaining where or why they're watching this movie together. Are they in Stephen Hawking's private screening room? Atop makeshift scaffolding during an outdoor screening at Hollywood Forever? Or are they just supposed to be themselves, getting together in front of a green screen to entertain us? I don't really have a preference... I'd just hoped for some sort of intro or explanation of "it" whatever "it" is. Maybe we'll see that in DVD's to come. Related to this, it'd be great to have some sort of recap with them chatting about the movie at the end. It could be as simple as seeing their silhouettes having a cup of coffee and piece of pie, recapping their thoughts or making fun of it. Maybe that's just me not wanting it to end.

All in all, it's Cinematic Titanic is a great thing and I'm so excited to get each new movie every month. I hope these guys will keep making these forever and all the MST3K fans out there will buy their DVDs so they can.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

tinpo.



If you've flipped past CBS recently on a Saturday morning you might have seen some animated shorts starring a few of the friendly faces in the photo above. I love these little guys and am proud to have been part of the team that helped bring them to life.



Tinpo was created by Derek Welch and Jason Bacon, the creative..dare I say, geniuses...behind UNKL and Big Giant.



A few years ago, our studio chief Jeffrey Conrad came across their booth at Comicon, bought all their toys and decided to option the property. Since then we've developed 10 animated shorts, each 30 seconds long, and added Tinpo to the AG Properties library permanently.

You can see the shorts online at AG Kidzone.com as well as on CBS Saturday mornings.

When we planned to do the shorts, we had to figure out what the Tinpo world would look like. We threw around the idea of these Tinpo working inside a factory and thought it would be cool if the characters looked dimensional, yet the backgrounds were more graphic. I created a little animated test where I used an illustration of what I thought a machine would look like in the factories from our AG Properties logo.





The idea behind the test was not only to test a "look" but also try and sell everyone on the idea of using 8 Bit music for the shorts (which I used as background music.)

I'd already had a slew of 8 Bit music from the site 8 Bit Peoples that freely shares music created by artists using Nintendos, Gameboys and all kinds of crazy stuff to make music. I became a fan of Anamanaguchi aka Peter Berkman. His music is fun and quirky and doesn't sound straight out of a video game. It's more organic and he layers in other 'real' instruments as well.



Everyone here was on board with having Anamanaguchi do the music as well as Anamanaguchi himself, so we went for it. Listen for it in the shorts. Oh, and I should point out a cool thing he did. In each of the shorts there is what we call the "aha moment." No it's not the moment where everything switches into a black and white comic book and they begin singing "Take On Me." It's the moment where the Tinpo figures out the solution to a problem. You'll notice that in each short, the music is only 8 bit before the "aha moment" and then turns into full instrumentation after he figures it out.



Let's not forget the animation! It was done in sunny Dallas, Texas at Reel FX Entertainment. These guys are awesome to work with and did an awesome job. Check out their reel and prepare to have your minds blown. They treated Tinpo like it was their own baby and really went the extra mile for us. Anthony Davila set the visual direction for the shorts and worked closely with Reel FX to get everything look nice and pretty. Anthony has a talented team of illustrators here in Cleveland who designed most of the props, vehicles and things. Once they set the style, Reel FX also helped conceptualize and design things too.

We talked with Reel FX early on about how the Tinpo should move. We all thought it would be cool if the Tinpo moved as if invisible hands were playing with them and moving them along, versus just always moving under their own power. Reel FX also approached the sound design as if things were more "digital" in a way in order to make things feel like they're part of a unique world. Lots of bleeps and bloops.



Look for future posts where I hope to share more of the stuff we're creating.

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