Monday, March 13, 2023

Editing episode 7 of Dream the Rogue Planet - a BTS glimpse!


In the midst of editing ep7 our drama podcast Dream the Rogue Planet - written and directed by my brilliant friend, The Resident Metaphysician - this is a simplified screenshot of the complexity (the very tidy, stripped down complexity) I'm accessing for my workflow.  

What's not visible is the about 10 other finder windows containing my efex; original audio files for characters; 3 other audio editing programs I use (Audible, iZotope RX, iZotope Neutron, iZotope Ozone (visible is Studio One 5, where I assemble & edit the multi-track scenes of each act of the podcast); the extensive checklists of notes from my director The Resident Metaphysician in Notion; the firefox tabs to sound efex sites; the studio/mics/MixPre3 upon which all the vocals are recorded for me & 2 cast members; but if I'd put all of that on the screen you'd never be able to see the fun bits :D

You can see how I structure my own self-notes for a file in the episode; how I mark-up/color-code the scripts for easy character line identification and file break-out (my file structure isn't based on act structure, but rather on the efex required for each section so i can maximize the flow of each of those efex sections from one file to the next); how each file is represented in alternating sequence so that I can flow one into the next; and what my file structure is for how each episode's data is stored all in one place.

It's taken me quite awhile to figure out streamlining all of this data to both be easily accessible as well as organized to be easy to find, as well as corresponding across multiple programs and storage locations.  The more streamlined all of this is, the faster I can create the whole of the podcast, and the more likely i am to have consistent efex/voice qualities/and overall feel to each episode :)

Also?  What used to be stressful as fuck is now SUPER FUN, what used to take months now takes days, and i can get lost in creating a realistic/hyper-realistic episode of story that all you listeners can get lost in when you listen.

As my son (playing the character, Zaro) put it the other day after listening to the first 5 episodes in sequence, "I have discovered that this is not a podcast i can fall asleep to."  :D  lololol  

eeeeeexcelllenttttt - our evil plan is being realized  >:D

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed

Sunday, March 5, 2023

the Stellar X2 large diaphragm mic & the Focusrite Scarlet Solo - the perfect high-fidelity recording set up...for stupidly little money

Seriously folks, you can buy half a dozen 'meh' usb mics that cost more than this set up - and this set up is brilliant, I'm truly blown away by how good it is.  It cost 1/10th of my set up (which itself is in imitation of gear that runs more like 5k), and is close enough in quality, noise-floor, timbre etc. to my own studio, than I can have cast members from Dream the Rogue Planet record using this gear, and get a perfect blend into the soundscape of the podcast.

The Scarlett Solo has been on people's radar for several years (Sound on Sound review) - though i only found it on this most recent hunt for Good Mic For Our Peeps.  But the Stellar X2 is a dark horse that's really only being discovered now, to judge by the couple of folks on youtube who are losin' their freakin' minds about this mic.  With good damn reason.

When Oktavamod went out of business (the owner changed his business to focus on meditative sound and it's amazing), I was a bit alarmed - I mean, what if I ever needed a replacement for one of my Neumann U67 emulating microphones??  Was anyone else out there retrofitting mics in a similar way?  Well, now someone is :)  

When I got my mic, there was a fantastic blind shoot-out on the website, between Oktavamod's Neumann-sounding-mic, and the real thing; 3 different tracks if i recall correctly.  I'd come across his website in a roundabout 'searching everywhere' way.  I knew nothing about him or what he did, but I knew what I needed and exactly what sound I was searching for.  So i downloaded the .wav files and listened to that shootout over and over...and the mic I chose as 'the best one' did indeed turn out to be the Oktavamod modified microphone.  I got two.

I know how good my stereo pair sounds, what it was made to emulate, how Michael modified them even further to tailor them to my particular voice, and the fantastic quality of gear he put in my studio.

Imagine my glee when I discovered there's a small biz out there approaching the same sound exploration on a small scale of production: can you emulate a Neumann U87 or U67 microphone with mic mods, and capture a multi-thousand dollar mic sound, with a mic that cost hundreds....and (as Oktavamod had proven for many years), yes you can; you can get damn close.

The Stellar X2 is a fantastic large diaphragm mic, I have nothing but praise for it!  It's a little hotter than my mics (probably the U87 rather than U67 profile, I'm guessing?), but has almost all of the depth of detail and color I'm used to expecting from my own set up.  I'm super impressed!  I would recommend this mic for anyone!

The Scarlett Solo audio interface has excellent sounding preamps, a super low noise floor, is dead-easy to use - and small, a little metal mini-lunchbox sized package :D

In the process of testing several different gear combinations to eventually recommend to the cast of the podcast, I became such a fan of the Scarlett Solo and the X2, that they are permanently mounted to a RΓΈde swing-arm next to my bed (wrapped in a pillow case when not in use, which is a funny look!), so that I can record very high quality sound for all kinds of purposes, even on days when getting into the studio feels overwhelming.  

It is such a luxury to have so much amazing gear available at a budget these days!  Nothing makes me happier than to record something beautiful or moving or hair raising or subtle or mind blowing...on high fidelity equipment that will transmit my work as transparently as glass, with a slight magical shimmer like glitter dust in the air :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Down-ballot vote thoughts :D (Vote! vote vote vote vote Vote!! )

Well folks, today is a HUGE DAY - midterm elections in the US, and by gum we have a ton of really deadly serious issues hanging on this one.

Vote!  Votes do count!  And they count in ways you might not have considered!

You may feel hopeless or powerless about the big elections, but the people who might effect your life more are the much more local elections - and you have A TON of power there!  

The down-ballot elections count on EVERY VOTE - and remember, those who win small elections will be aiming for bigger more powerful positions later!  If you help a local small election, that person who you help win may well be up for senator in just a few years!  So you are voting in (OR OUT) the people who will be representatives or senators or presidents in the future.

So your votes count.  they do count.  they count a lot - the future is decided now.

Complexly's (Hank & John Green) excellent channel 'How to Vote in Every State' has a ton to offer EVEN TODAY, ON VOTING DAY!  

Here's 8-years-ago Hank (omg, baby!hank) with some REALLY GOOD INSIGHTS about why to why [not not] to vote lololol  STILL UTTERLY RELEVANT!!

He hits - and answers!:
Don't wanna get jury duty
Lesser of Two Evils
I don't know how to vote
Am I registered?
I'm not registered
I just don't care...?
Elections are controlled by the rich
I physically can't vote
Politics is eating my soul
the US is not even a democracy
My vote won't matter

annnd here's Hank from this year, talking about focusing more on the smaller down-ballot elections, and how he's decided to focus on local elections!  Our community!

Just spent half an hour with youngest filling out our ballots, and talking about all of these things :)  Voting for our local peeps, we considered how each of those people could go on to be senators or governors or presidents and how amazing that is!  We are starting someone awesome on the trail to representing us at an ever more powerful level!


Friday, November 4, 2022

I made a video of the post below - enjoy!



Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed


my ongoing theme of: Ivy is not an artist 😁

Something I have been aware of since I started making music as a young girl was that when you trade an instrument with a friend in your orchestra or wind ensemble or music class, the pressure to excel or to perform is completely removed from the experience of making music. You just laugh at how all you can do is make squawky sounds, and try out different fingerings or bow angles or whatever. It's a hoot, and we did it all the time in music groups.

This is a truth about all creativity in general. If you would like to feel unshackled from the drive to improve, or create something in your mind that you can't quite capture and it leaves you feeling intimidated, or inadequate, or stuck...try creating something in a medium you have no experience in. A medium in which there is no reason to feel stressed about being skilled, or talented, or judged by an audience.

I have never been an artist in the sense of someone who draws or paints. I take photographs and make them into art, but using my hand with a pencil or a paintbrush has never resulted in anything one would call arty πŸ˜† but reading Austin Kleon's trilogy of inspiring books, I decided to approach my current intimidation with the very complex and powerful Dream the Rogue Planet podcast, by drawing.

 I mean, how much further away from where my own talent lies could that possibly be? I have zero expectations of myself with a stylus in my hand!

I don't have to expect anything of myself when I draw, I don't have to worry about making it better, I just need to enjoy the feel of the stylus on my tablet. (Hand injuries prevent me from working with actual paper - the tablet allows me to use very light pressure and not stress my hands out)

This past week over on Twitter, the artist Jana Heidersdorf had a conundrum. One of her most widely circulated pieces of art, a truly iconic painting that you have certainly seen somewhere, had been copied and used commercially. Needless to say, this was distressing! However, she contacted the people involved and the situation was resolved, and she is being compensated for the use of her work - much yay! This kind of thing rarely works out in the favor of the original artist πŸ₯³

The fun part is, she then started a thread in which she invited anyone and everyone to render their version of her painting in their own style, their own interpretation, to have fun - to let imagination flow. You must go check out this thread, it is full of absolutely delightful versions of her work ranging from the stunning to the haunting to the funny to the scribbly to the spin-off of entirely new pieces. She has even taken the time to comment on many of the pieces, and she is very funny and generous.

Last night I could not sleep, so I decided to get out my tablet and go for it 😁 I mean, I'm not a visual artist right? What do I have to lose! Here is her original piece (complete with her invitation LOL)...
...and here is my scribbly fun hopefully haunting attempt to put my own interpretation on the work.

 I invite you to go over to the Twitter thread and do the same - what do you have to lose? Cut loose, have fun, let go of control and just move your pencil or paint brush or stylus in a way that feels good πŸ₯°

Everyone - make bad art! wear your n95 masks! and be good to each other,
❤️ Ivy

(This post was created with speech to text, which can be kind of clunky - and apparently causes me to do dastardly things to commas LOL forgive some of the clumsiness, my hands are currently not at their best so I am being good to them.. with a block of ice πŸ˜‚)

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

What are your influences as an artist? #ShowYourWork - ooOOooOOooo, Happy Halloweeeennn :D

Who are Ivy's influences?  Mine might not be quite in the vein you'd expect, but I bet the sources will be exactly who you'd expect :D



Continuing my series of short videos on Austin Kleon's must-read-if-you-do-creative-ANYTHING trilogy, 'Steal Like an Artist,' 'Show your work,' and, 'Keep Going.'  These books are both delightful and CHOCK FULL OF WISDOM! 
music: "Happy Acoustic" by Ilya Truhanov (via Vidma)

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed


Friday, October 21, 2022

argh! cannot get to my editing software because mac OS shenanigans!

For some Unknown As Yet Reasons, my mac M1 running 12.6, has suddenly stopped connecting to le internets.

Mind you, it has not stopped connecting to the wireless router - it still sees our wireless network just fine (upon which ALL OTHER HOUSEHOLD COMPUTERS rely without trouble) - it just cannot connect to the greater world via that router.

Baffling to say the least.

Now, I am computer proficient and can do many things. I have done all the things that are the First Things one would do to solve this problem, to no avail.  To my great fortune, I have live-in tech support of Highest Expertise who can tackle ridiculous intricate problems like this and he is about to do just that, bless him!

This has cost me a week's worth of audio art.  Why?  Because I am purchasing my audio editing program (Studio One 5) on an installment plan - and if it can't check in with the provider via internet RE the status of my license, it won't launch.

All of my audio, all of episode 7 of Dream the Rogue Planet, is SITTING THERE on my machine, and i cannot get to it to edit it.  

This is driving me kinda nuts.  It has perhaps caused me to make more Show Your Work videos than I might otherwise have made (though since I tend to do those upon waking as a way of getting my energy up to get out into the cold livingroom and edit audio, I'd probably do them anyway); but my frustration levels have remained high.

Over the past 18 months or so, I have gotten more and more streamlined in editing Rogue Planet episodes, to the point that it's conceivable that less complex episodes can be completed in just a couple of weeks.  

she says, with a despairing laugh, as Res raises the bar ever higher because the reward for a job exceptionally done 😎 is AN EVEN HIGHER BAR FOR THE NEXT JOB  😭

And the loss of this week's worth of editing has poked my 'I'm not good at what I do,' button, despite not being my fault in any way shape or form.  *shakes fist*  Darn you extremely-helpful-really-appreciate-how-good-you-are technology!!

The spouse is on the job as I type though and, lord willin' and the river don't rise, the second serious assembly of episode 7 will take place this weekend.

...and if we can get my machine on the internet via hard-line for even a few minutes I'm buying that damn program outright so that even if I go offline because this problem persists (it's intermittent for some people and we don't know why, c'mon Apple, give us a garsh darn't patch gdi!), I'll be able to edit like the wind! 

And thus has gone Ivy's week of audio artistry this blustery beautiful fall in Montana :) 


ETA:  The spouse DID IT!!  and, for a sysadmin, it was about the 3rd 'obvious' thing he tried and he was like - oh, anyone would have gotten there pretty fast.  And I was like, UM, THE ZILLION POSTS ON THE INTERNET BEGGING FOR HELP, BEG TO DIFFER.

He ran OnyX -- a common cruft-cleaner-upper program for MacOS -- rebooted - boom.  internet restored.

Hope this is helpful to someone, if they stumble upon it :D

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple pod | amazon pod | google pod | RSS feed

Thursday, October 20, 2022

massive website tidying and video thereof!

In the spirit of Show Your Work (my theme of the quarter, it seems!), I have done a long overdue reorg. of my website, connecting my photography site, migrating my blog over here to Blogger (omg, even though my enter website is built on Wordpress (the worst CMS ever, but the only one provided for free by my hosting company), Wordpresses original function - A BLOG - is now dreadful and a pain to use *sob*

Furthering the showing my work part, I did a video walkthrough of the website starting with the history of the primary photo used, the trip to Montana and Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park upon which the photo was taken, right through the website itself with my usual light hearted commentary :D


Back to the blogging bit - since Wordpress' blog function is now all but unusable, I moved everything over here, where it is much prettier and muuuch easier for anyone to read and for me to post!  Since all of my entries prior to 2019 were lost in my last big website upgrade, there wasn't that much to move, alas :)  So i shall just have to write many new posts!

I have been on a tear recently with quickie phone-cam Show Your Work style videos, with a few longer form vids shot on my good camera - so my website has gone from 'a video every few weeks,' to 'ak, many videos every week!'  Which is good ;)  I'm getting the hang of dashing off semi-daily videos and tossing them up on YouTube and Instagram (and TikTok, though I keep getting copyright strikes over there for reasons I cannot discern, and that are completely random - videos with the same music (which I have legit license to) and the same length will have one struck and the other untouched. Clearly their algorithm has no idea what to do with me LOL!

Here's some of the 'daily quick chat about 'something from Austin Kleon's books' videos.'  Hope you enjoy them!

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed

Sunday, October 16, 2022

more from Austin Kleon's trilogy

I have to say, no books I have ever come across have done more to inspire me to get to my computer (or my phone camera) and start creating than Austin Kleon's trilogy, 'Steal Like an Artist,' 'Show your work,' and, 'Keep Going.'  Not only do they get me doing my principle work, they've also gotten me into making both short and medium length videos of both phone and good-camera quality, about the books themselves.  I read a quote and talk about what it inspires in me, how it makes me want to create or think about creating.

I've been posting these on both TikTok and Insta, as well as YouTube - I'll embed them here as I go along, as well.  So here's one!  Posting this, and then off to edit the next episode of Dream the Rogue Planet (that would be Episode 7) - woooo!!!

I've also added my photography to, starting to make the website the 'all Ivy Tara Blair creative gallery' I had always intended the site to be: narration, sound production, solo projects, collaboration projects, podcasts, music, photography, and video.  ...whew, when you put it that way, it sounds like a lot :D

So - here's some of my 'Show Your Work' series of informal videos - enjoy!

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:

Saturday, October 15, 2022

‘Show Your Work’


from my newsletter (subscribe if you like)…

Dream the Rogue Planet episode 6 is out!! Go forth and listen to this project-of-my-heart!

spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed

What else has Ivy been up to? Well, I’ve really been enjoying Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work* – and have been looking for ways to use his ideas in what I do. The whole book (the whole trilogy) is so damn full of wisdom that literally half of my book is highlighted, but here’s a sampling:

Artists love to trot out the tired line, “My work speaks for itself,” but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things come from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value it.”    [emphasis mine]

Oh…oh, well then! I know this to be true – I knew it’s true because I’ve been on the internet, being an ΓΌber-fan of many things and adoring seeing how the sausage is made in every respect from ‘how did they do that costume??’ to ‘what the heck made that ‘squish’ sound in the foley? OMG IT WAS YOGURT? HOW DELIGHTFULLY GROSS!”

So if I know this to be true, and I love to connect with people who like what I do…my question is: what would y’all like to SEE? what would y’all like to HEAR?

In the spirit of this idea, I have made a fun ‘join me for my morning audio work’ youtube video, for those who want to come along πŸ™‚  (embedded below the post)

The upshot is, I’m basically throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I’m doing some silly screencaps of written ‘things I learned/things I love’ about what I do – on twitter and insta. I’m going to adapt small bits of my very young video career into insta and tiktok length pieces. I might do really short insta and tiktok phone-vids on ‘what I’m doing today’ wrt my creative work.

Just…trying all the things!

These books are SUPER inspirational though guys – you should get them and just start highlighting the shit out of them. I start every day reading a couple pages, and by the time I’m done I’m like, ooooOOOOOOKAY! LETS GET THIS AUDIO SHOW ON THE ROAD, SHALL WE? WE GOT BEAUTIFUL ART TO MAKE AND PUT OUT IN THE WORLD, IT’S BURNING A HOLE IN MY POCKET!!

Be well, take care of yourselves, wear your masks, and I’ll see you next time,



*Use for your online book shopping needs! Not only is it the convenience (or if you’re homebound, the necessity) of online ordering of books, ebooks, and audiobooks** – but ALSO whenever you purchase, you are giving actual real cash money to your local brick-and-mortar store, helping indie bookstores in your home town stay in business! Local bookstores do so much more than sell books, and by gum we NEED them. Support them – use and abandon the big ‘A’ overlords!

** audiobooks are either subscription or one-at-a-time, just like [shhh] audible – but better because LOCAL BOOKSTORE $$

Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:
spotify | apple podcasts | amazon podcasts | google podcast | RSS feed


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Creative Update!


What ever shall I say today?
Well, here’s the current state of Creative Things Going on:
  1. I have finished the audiobook for C.W. Allen’s The Secret Benefits of Invisibility (sequel to Relatively Normal Secrets, which is getting awards all over the place). Thoroughly enjoyed narrating this book. It’s a fast read (meaning it comes easily from text to mouth, not that it has no depth), there are some characters I can seriously ham up, and I feel really good about offering the author and publisher the audio on simple royalty split (the publisher cannot pay narrators up front this year, but i want to do this trilogy so I am).
  2. I have made my first five [FIVE] videos for the Jewelwing channel, and I’m having a blast. Editing video is like editing audio, but with even more bits to play with. I can see that while i’ll continue to do a rather standard YouTube ‘talking head’ video set (i have rather a lot to say, as anyone who knows me knows…), I’m definitely going to branch out into short film shot in a similar artistic and emotional esthetic as my still photography. This pleases me greatly :)
And most principally: Res and I have released episodes 1-5 of Dream the Rogue Planet, and i am insanely excited about it!! What we create together is the heart and soul of my creative life, and I couldn’t be more proud of the first half of Season 1 of this incredible story told in a lush, soundscaped, acted, meticulously produced way.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Dream the Rogue Planet is OUT!

Dream the Rogue Planet is out in the world!

What has Ivy been up to? Welp, putting the first 5 episodes of The Resident Metaphysician’s Dream the Rogue Planet podcast onto all major podcast platforms!

Here insert wild crowd cheering!

….which you will actually hear in episode 3 πŸ˜€

For Rogue Planet I am the narrator, the sound engineer and producer – all of which fills me with joy! I love soundscaping and foley and music design SO MUCH!

Back when I was a little baby narrator, I loathed editing loathed it SO MUCH. And then the first time I soundscaped a full on radio play type drama, I fell in love. I spent crazy numbers of hours working on pieces, learning how to multitrack, how to time dialog and effects and music. And from then on, editing was a joy – even when it’s just editing straight up narration.

What else is Ivy doing? Well, right now I’m taking a break from narrating books. The publisher I work with had to make financial choices (in this economy that totally makes sense – esp. because they were paying their narrators union rates rather than ripping us off, like some big companies I could name). This is good, because I was going to have to drastically cut back anyway (health issues, long covid and such), and now that the podcast production is picking up steam the timing is perfect πŸ™‚

Other things? Well, it’s damn hot in the rockies right now πŸ˜› I have to get into the recording booth EARLY in the day, or else it becomes a a 4x4x8′ oven! And currently my fan situation is insufficient, so that really doesn’t help matters!

In the hottest part of the day, I’ve been spending faaaar too much time on twitter (latest posts on the left sidebar πŸ˜› a blend of adorable critters, liberal politics & chronic illness research, soothing art, and beautiful photographs.  I hate flames and trolls, so you will find none of those there πŸ™‚  Too much twitter?  Probably, so I take breaks and read voraciously πŸ˜€

I’m doggedly working away at videography, I hike with my dog, and I spend time with my kiddos πŸ™‚ I may be dealing with chronic illness that sucks the energy out of me, but I am blessed with support and love and the time to make beautiful art to put out into the world πŸ™‚

Be well, take care of yourself, wear your masks, and I’ll see you next time,


Dream the Rogue Planet podcast providers:


Friday, January 28, 2022

Thoughts on fandom

I’ve been thinking thoughts about fandom lately.  I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I’ve been in fandom for, oh, decades now πŸ™‚  I’ve been in fandoms for many shows, books, movies.  I’ve been a moderator of a lot of communities, email lists etc.  I’ve gone through phases of intense involvement and phases of ‘too exhausted by chronic illness to do more than listlessly read fic and be grateful it was there to transport me elsewhere.’

I don’t know anyone into scifi or fantasy who hasn’t been involved in fandom, whether peripherally or up to their eyeballs.  Genre literature/shows/movies/games seem to be extra fertile ground for fandoms to spring up around – I love that about them πŸ™‚  I’m oriented more towards scifi, but given that I also love YA literature I’ve got a strong streak of fantasy appreciation, too; I mean, the first book I read to each of my kids was A Wizard of Earthsea!  

Anyone who’s been in fandom and forums and LiveJournal and Dreamwidth and tumblr and blessed blessed AO3 [we must own the servers], has seen different flavors of toxicity come and go and done our best to weather them, avoid them, moderate them, block them, and sometimes address them head on with writing and with action.  People are determined to stay in fandom because the communities of people they build around them are so joyful and supportive and intimate and fun.  And the nice thing is, like attracts like much of the time; toxic people attract people who want to hurt others and stir up shit, and healthy people attract healthy people and help each other grow and become our better selves. 

My experience of fandom has been marvelous people having a wonderful time sharing our love of whatever story we’re all enjoying, and often becoming good friends in the process.  The reason this has been my experience, is because i have followed/joined/etc. people or communities who were themselves healthy and where the community standards were ‘no hurting anyone in this place,’ with the ability to enforce that in some way.  The more healthy people I found, the more healthy friend’s-friends I met, and then followed/friended, and on and on.  I still read the blogs of people I first followed 20 years ago – that’s how delightful and positive the spaces those people have created.

Of course I hear about fandom drama (tumblr will keep one apprised of it!), but I don’t want that energy in my happy-place so I steer clear and block as many keywords as it takes to keep drama out of my tumblr dash, twitter feed, etc.  On the rare occasion fandom drama lands on my door step and wants me to weigh in, I have two strategies:  if someone is being trashed, I’ll pull out my Fandom-Old badge and say that this is not the way, that we’re here for fun and a break from all the crap in the ‘real world’ and then bow out; or I’ll bow out in a simple, ‘not joining in right now,’ fashion. 

I seldom engage unless someone is being hurt, and I do that because when fandom gets crazy it can be incredibly assaulting.  People with imagined or projected intentions, an entitlement to demand creative work from others, malicious attacks intending to cause harm, and on and on…and amazingly, there’s a tendency for a crickets and tumbleweeds level of silence from the bystanders (there’s extensive research on bystanders to bullying and why they don’t defend the victim – fun fun fun to read about, give it a try).  Someone has to stand up and say, ‘All these accusations are projections/not made in good faith/deliberate slanders/insert dysfunctional concepts here, and the poor person on the receiving end is being REAL LIFE injured by this whole spiral of dogpiling and it is not okay.’  For the person being attacked, even if only one person names the situation for what it is it can make all the difference to their sense that everything just went crazy.  For the bystanders who know they are witnessing someone getting hurt but can’t bring themselves to say something, it’s a chance for them to speak up.

(if a good conversation seems to be starting, I’ll keep writing, encouraging deescalation pathways so the whole thing doesn’t just reverse the direction of the dogpile)

Fandom has given me so much – endless fascinating meta conversations, friends, community, insights, personal growth, improving my own emotional intelligence and developing strategies for helping groups do the same, and just the joy of squeeing with people in love with a particular story πŸ™‚  It’s one of the central parts of my life!  Having chronic illness has been made so much better since the internet came along – online friendships and playing in the worlds we enjoy watching/reading are my social life, support system, circle of friends.  How isolated I would be without it!  I hate to imagine the past two decades without my pocket friends and all we do together.

It’s for these reasons that I still expend the spoons to try to help make fandom an ever-improving place, where people can come and play without fear of irrational attacks or being subjected to drama one thread/discord channel/reblog over from where they’re sitting.  There will always be dysfunction in fandom – people are people.  But the more communities we build where the expected behaviour is ‘be kind, or don’t be here,’ the better the world gets.  

We can only influence the world one interaction at a time, over and over.  Fandom is not some abstract online imaginary place – fandom is made of real people in the real world who experience real emotions and impact on their real lives.  We need to remember that truth, and to always weigh our words before we hit ‘post.’

Change the world one action at a time.  Even the smallest actions have impact, and some times they have a much bigger impact than you realize.  Be good to each other πŸ™‚


Sunday, December 19, 2021

Gear Post

When I was blogging about my photography regularly, I’d do an annual gear-update post.  I thought I’d try the same here – mostly because it’s fun, but it can be informative for others who stumble across my natterings, if they are starting to look into vocal audio πŸ™‚
My gear and software haven’t changed much in the past 3 years, and my set-up runs toward ‘elegant, simple, [costs some dollars],’ so it doesn’t take long to write about!

I record onto a 2012 Mac mini, nothing fancy (I think my screen dates to about 2012, too).  As I’ve written about recently, I’ve got quite an ergo set-up, with three 3-button floor pedals, left and right handed vertical mice, and a Kinesis keyboard. 

I tend to acquire used audio hardware in good condition – you can get stuff that’s nearly as good as new, for half the cost.  I think my first Mackie mixer was almost as old as I was!  I just wish software worked that way πŸ™‚

Audio-specific gear:

Whisper Room sound booth, lined with lots denim insulation
Sony MDR 7506 headphones
MixPre3 mixer/recorder/magicbox
modified large diaphragm mics
Studio One 5 Pro
iZotope RX8, Neutron3 and Ozone9
Audacity  (version 2.4.xx – new version is Problematic)
 XLD mass audio file format converter (I save all files in .flac and batch-convert them to MP3s at the end of all edits/processing)
iTunes – for mass ID3 tagging and attaching album covers

There have been a lot of iterations and upgrades in the past decade, but i knew once i’d found the MixPre3 and iZotope, I was going to be Very Happy with my set-up for quite a long time to come.

The first good gear I ever got, was my first modified large diaphragm mic (the guy who did the work is no longer in the biz, which is a shame for all of us who love his microphones, but I hope he’s having tons of fun with his new projects!).  I went from a Shure SM58 that had been in the bottom of a box forever (now mind you, the SM58 is a classic stage mic, known for standing up to all kinds of abuse and delivering consistent live-performance sound for decades…but it wasn’t right for my voice. like, at all.), to a microphone specially tailored to my voice, and it was a revelation.  A mic that could deliver on all the richness of my lower range, and roll off my intense sibilance, all with a noise floor of 5dB… it was amazing to hear my voice reproduced the way it actually sounds.  I got a second one for a stereo pair about a year later.  It occurs to me that i haven’t come across any other narrators who use a stereo set-up, wonder why?

Things about my current set-up that seem worth writing about…hmm.  Well, the MixPre3 series simply cannot be beat for voice recording, holy wow.  Delightful pre-amps, super low noise floor, high pass filter options, an analog limiter I can just ascend to the heavens now (this was the feature that led me to the MixPre3; while software replacements for hardware are amazingly good, there’s not a real replacement for hardware in a few crucial places – and an analog limiter is one of them).  I recorded straight to SDHC for a couple years, then switched to Studio One onto the Mac hard drive.

Is the WhisperRoom all that?  Yes, it is…but it’s at least as much for a completely controlled soundspace as it is for noise reduction.  In its standard configuration, you get a lot of noise attenuation in a WR, but it’s not dead silent.  That’s okay, because what it does allow you to do, is have a controlled space to outfit with lots and lots of sound deadening, which will further improve the sound isolation anyway.  I have denim insulation on all the walls, in rolls in the corners as bass-traps, and I have my mics just inside a small box that is covered inside and out in more denim insulation (all the insulation is covered in fabric).  Went through a lot of staples setting all that up!  With almost no possibility for sound reflection, I can be at any distance from the mics, at any angle to them, and the quality of the sound remains consistent.  This gives me a lot of room to maneuver – so to speak – when it comes to things like ‘I recorded this pick-up much further away from the mic’ or ‘I recorded this new section hotter than usual’ – I can adjust the volume in the edit and not have sound characteristics be noticeably different, for example.  The ability to kill noise reflections makes sound engineering soooo much easier.

The other thing I did to the WR was replace the fairly noisy heavy-duty ventilation fan, with an oversized computer cooling fan that’s for all intents and purposes silent.  It was at that point I started noticing that my mics would pick up my heartbeat if I sat too close LOL

The Sonys are the standard headphones in every recording studio in the world, and there’s a reason for that; they deliver unbiased, unforgiving, faithful reproduction – don’t bother with anything else.  The worst that will happen, is that you’ll listen to files you’ve edited with previous less quality headphones and be horrified at the noises you missed πŸ˜€  They’re not even pricey – and the specs are all online so you can fix just about anything. They’ve been basically the same for decades. 

I’ve written enough about my software recently, so that’s about all there is for today folks!  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! and Ivy Loves Christmas Songs…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, evvveryyy whereee you gooooo…

I love Christmas unabashedly.  I know all the verses to all the songs (benefits of growing up in 4 different singing groups LOL), I love the peace of snowy winter (ahem, Montana? get on that, please?), I love listening to Christmas music and have an extensive playlist of stuff that *doesn’t* sound like anything that comes through mall speakers, I love decorating the tree, I love wrapping presents and filling stockings…the kids are in their 20s, and I still do it πŸ™‚

Right now, I’m finishing a book and cannot stress my voice (that med that gave me a month of laryngitis is still being felt, but my voice is getting stronger all the time!), so I am grumpily listening to music ALL THE TIME lol

The book underway is a 2-narrative-voice book and I really enjoy doing that kind of work.  This book doesn’t ask for a ton of definitive voicing in dialog (don’t ask me how I come to these determinations…it’s instinct at this point), but creating 2 distinctive narrative voices/cadences/timbres/etc. is very satisfying to me.

And as soon as the book is done, I shall sing ALL THE SONGS!!!

(don’t get me wrong – I’m thoroughly enjoying narrating this book! I’m grumpy about medication-induced vocal weakness. honest to pete, my body could stop reacting to every thing any day now :P)