In The Dark coming to Dublin

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Two Summers ago, I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Hearsay Audio Festival. If you haven’t heard of the festival, it’s a unique chance to enjoy the most inventive, avant garde and creative audio from around the world. The festival is also a hella chill break, as it’s held in the bucolic idyll of Kilfinane, Co Limerick. One of the highlights of the first Hearsay was the short doc contest run by Bristol based BBC crew ‘In The Dark‘ (and not just cause I won ;). In The Dark run uniquely joyful listening events in a wonderful variety of locations from crypts to eerie forests . At last years festival they setup a shop full of curiosities, each of which was paired with a story. Visitors plucked an object from the shelf and were passed an MP3 player containing an accompanying story. Mine concerned an urban myth about an underground group of students who got their kicks climbing into tumble driers and experiencing the spin cycle!

AIRPI have invited In the Dark to Dublin, for what promises to be a unique listening even at the Unitarian Church. In The Dark will be playing a selection of stories for the start of winter. Highly recommended!

When: Saturday, November 5 at 8 PM – 10 PM
Where: Dublin Unitarian Church
How Much: 10 euro or free for AIRPI members.
More info.

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Podcasting Workshop – August 13th

a4 podcast workshop

When: Sat 13th Aug,  10-5pm (with 1 hour for lunch)
Where: A4 Sounds, St Joseph’s Parade, Off Upper Dorset St, Dublin 1
Cost: 60 Euro
Book here

I’m running a one day podcast workshop this August in A4 Sounds. This two part workshop will cover everything you need to create, upload and promote your own podcast. We’ll provide an overview of the history of podcasts, and the current state of the podcast market. You will learn about different podcast hosting and distribution options, how to track downloads and what it takes to get a podcast into iTunes ‘New & Noteworthy’ category.

This workshop is suitable for anyone wishing to create a podcast or improve how their podcasts are created or distributed, and requires no special technical expertise.  Whether you already have a podcast you’d like to improve, or are just a keen fan with an idea, this is the workshop for you.

What will the workshop cover

Part one of the day will be an overview of podcasting, covering different ways podcasts are made and distributed, and moving onto all the major monetisation routes – from advertising to Patreon, paid downloads, app purchases and more.

We’ll look at various hosting options and podcast creation pipelines, from self hosting with WordPress or Libsyn, to all in one services like Zencast, Soundcloud, ACast and audioBoom.

Part two will cover the process of creating a podcast, using free and low cost tools. Participants will work together to record, edit and distribute a podcast. They will learn through hands on practice, how to submit to the most popular podcast directories and apps.

The facilitator will be available after the workshop to answer further questions and technical issues that might pop up with your first attempts at making a show.

Materials Required:

Participants to bring along:

  • Previously recorded programmes they wish to podcast
    OR ideas for a show they’d like to create
  • Laptops to follow along with the practical portion of the class

A4 will supply all other necessary equipment & materials.
Continue reading “Podcasting Workshop – August 13th”

Storytelling Through Sound – Course

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I’m teaching my first course in A4 Sounds, this coming February. The six week course, ‘Storytelling Through Sound’ won’t focus on sound engineering, but instead on exploring the role of sound in multimedia artistic practice. No experience necessary. Details below!

Aimed at storytellers in all media, from writers to filmmakers. The goal of the class is to start thinking about sound in a new way: As a basic tool of storytelling. The mechanics of a medium, it’s limits and unique capacities, it’s textures and its intrinsic qualities are all key to making the most of it as a creative artist. This course will examine ways of using sound to tell a story – ways of treating sound as a first class citizen in multimedia work. We’ll be listening to some of the best sound design and aural storytelling from radio, sound art and cinema. We’ll explore the various relations to the listener possible through the medium, and what sound can add to other mediums.

Cost: 60 euro
Kicks off: Feb 9th, 2016.

More info & booking.

Paraudolia Part 2 [Mechanical Blasphemy]

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A companion to Paraudiolia 1 (a piece composed as part of Bluebottle Collective’s ‘Hibernation Radio’ project), Paraudiolia Part 2 deals with degeneration in a cosmic context – the personal and collective dementia experienced as we flail beyond our capacities. This is a series of works employing musique concrete, anonymised interview and reflexive writing, to reflect on disillusion.

This is an episode of the new Dead Medium new podcast. This will be a best of show, including drama, interviews, sound art, comedy and gonzo ‘journalism’. We’re on itunes now, or you can subscribe to our RSS feed here.

Download: Paraudolia Part 2 [Mechanical Blasphemy]

Cheap video equipment for sketches and short films

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Over the past few months I’ve been working on ideas for sketches and short movies. Radio is great and all, but the audience for radio comedy is limited and for radio drama, practically non-existent. With that in mind, I’ve been developing some scripts and shooting a couple of test shorts – one of which has made it out into the wild. I’m lucky enough to have some extremely talented friends who’ve amassed cameras, lights and sound equipment and aren’t afraid to use them. That said, I always feel nervous using other folks equipment – if it breaks I’ll have to replace it, and feel awful, and I still won’t have my own camera. Plus, you always learn more when using (and having to pick) your own equipment.

After a few months of ferocious poverty, I’ll soon have a trickle of cash coming in from my latest drama series for Newstalk (more to follow on that, mucho excited). Now’s the time to pick up some very basic video recording equipment. Ideally I’m looking for an easy to use setup that has non-awful picture quality, steady shots, usable battery life, and decently long recording time. Since we’ll be recording sketches, it needs to work in ‘low light’ (in other words, inside a normal house, without additional lighting). And since I work in ‘the arts’ I can’t spent too much on the whole dealio. After buying a bunch of crap over the years I’ve figured out two things 1) you really need to try before you buy, or failing that ask people who regularly use the same stuff 2) the ‘best’ equipment is the equipment you can best use, not what can theoretically do the most in perfect conditions in the hands of an expert. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat around on film sets while the DOP fussed with a camera and the light died – complex camera setups make simple things very much harder and longer to make.

I already have a decent sound recorder (the Zoom H6) and mic (Rode NTG2) , which I use for radio work. I also own a cheap DSLR I picked up in the states a couple of years ago – the Canon Rebel T4i (known in Europe as the 650D). Right now I only have the ‘kit lens’ it comes with, which sucks for video, especially in low light. The Canon has a whole bunch of limitations. It doesn’t like to record for more than about ten minutes at a go. The battery dies after maybe 30 minutes of video. It’s slow to focus, even with a good lens. And it’s relatively complicated to use. So here are the options I considered.

Options

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1) GoPro Hero 4 Black
+ cheap steady rig available
+ lots of shooting possibilities due to tiny size / simplicity
+ tiny and easily set up
+ up to 2 or 3 hours battery life
+ numerous accessories (e.g.: batteries, mounts, mic inputs, super long 12 hour batteries)
– really expensive, distortion needs to be corrected in software
– video is washed out

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2) Better video equipment for the Canon – a better film lens, better memory card, longer lasting batteries, and a cheap ‘steadicam’
+ by far the best video quality
+ cheap batteries and lenses available
+ cheap steady rigs available
– much more complicated use
– slow to focus
– limited shot length before overheating / hitting the camera’s file size limit
– good lenses are expensive

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3) A point and shoot camera or camcorder
+ reasonable image quality
+ relatively inexpensive
+ really easy to use
+ reasonable sound in the camera
– point and shoots have very low battery life
– difficult to steady
– looks like video
– difficult to import video for editing

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4) A cheap android phone with a good camera
+ cheapish
+ also a phone
– limited memory (32 gig max)
– shooting a lot could wear out the phone
– battery life
– cameras aren’t good until you hit a pretty pricey phone
– phones break, crash, and get grumpy when wet.

After chatting with a bunch of friends, including camera geeks and comedians who regularly shoot sketches and shorts, this is what I’ve decided to pick up.

What to buy

1 * Sony HDR-CX405 camcorder – 215.00
– This tiny camcorder seems to work unusually well in low light, gets a couple of hours video on one battery, it can transfer video via wifi, and has very good depth of focus and good onboard sound. Hopefully it’ll be perfect for simple sketches.

1 * Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens – 134.00
– This ‘nifty fifty’ lens has a really low f.stop, which the camera geeks assure me means it’s great for low light. It’s also got a quiet STM motor, for less jarring and noisy focusing. It’ll help me learn to shoot video better on the DSLR, and perhaps be good enough for making shorts – although issues with staying in focus, and more complex setup means we’ll probably not use it for sketches, at least at first.

2 * replacement T4i batteries – 20.00
– Cheap, if slightly dodgy batteries should greatly extend recording time on the Canon.

1 * 64GB Class 10 SD card – 35.00
– A cheap if slightly low spec memory card. Should be fast enough for video recording on both the Sony camcorder and the Canon camera.

1 * low cost steady cam rig – 100.00
– This ultra cheap steady cam thingamejig is a little bulkier and heavier than I’d like, but it should work with both the camera and camcorder, and let us do handheld shots without too much horrific shakiness.

Thanks

Thanks to Sean Burke, Seb Dooris, Shane Conneely and Orla McNelis for all the advice.

Artist Led Archive – Culture File

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 13.05.41Megs Moorley at IMMA, image copyright Catalyst Arts Gallery.

Meg’s Moorley’s ‘artist led archive‘ is a wonderful storehouse of the wisdom and work of numerous art collectives over the last four decades. The archive, which tours as a series of exhibitions and discussion events, is part of the permanent collection at the National Arts Visual Library at NCAD. I spoke with curator and artist Megs Morley, at the recent Artist Led Archive exhibition at IMMA.

All tracks used in this piece were from CD’s included in the Artist Led Archive (complete list below). Many of these works were included on the incredible ‘The Sound We Are Now‘ release from 2007, featuring some of the most beautiful and evocative sound artists working in the last decade. The Sound We Are Now is available from Farpoint Recordings, the label which curates a panoply of incredible sound artists and experimental musicians.

Download: ‘The Artist Led Archive’


Tracks used

The Sound We Are Now – Anthony Kelly & David Stalling – Powerstation 3
The Sound We Are Now – Thea Herold – Same Same but different
Gary Phelan & Mark McLoughlin – Random Access Soundworks – Kevlar Second Chants
The Sound We Are Now – Johannes S. Sistermanns – to disappear / appear
The Sound We Are Now – Alan Lambert South Shore
David Stalling and Anthony Kelly – Urban Utopias – Ghost Signal
The Sound We Are Now – Jürgen Simpson – Kepler
Alan Lambert – The Man Who Cycled To The Moon – Tiny Tiny

‘Paraudiolia 1’ sound art at IMMA

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Excited to announce that a piece I created for Blue Bottle Collective’s Hibernation Radio project is being played at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, as part of the ‘More Than One Maker‘ exhibition. Massive congratulations to all the Blue Bottle Collective! You can listen to the piece, which explores Dublin’s rejection of it’s young artists and creative communities, below. The piece is playing on a loop along with a selection of other pieces from ‘Hibernation Radio’, in the main square of IMMA until mid June. Facebook event here.


Download: Paraudiolia 1 [It’s not that way it’s over here]

Amanda Coogan on Silence – Culture File

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My final piece for Culture File’s series on ‘Silence‘, is an interview with performance artist Amanda Coogan. I don’t want to preempt the piece by writing too much about it. I will say that of all the conversations I’ve had this year, both on mic and off, this was perhaps the most personally meaningful. Amanda is an unusually sincere person who seems truly present in the moment. There are people I occasionally meet, whom I feel honoured to send time with, because they are present without pretence or defence. Perhaps those moments are why I’ve gravitated towards jobs that involve attempting real conversation – psychotherapy, music journalism, whatever the heck I do now. In those moments I’m reminded that life can be more engaged and meaningful than our fears and shibboleths usually allow.


Download: Amanda Coogan on Silence

Below is a transcript of the Culture File piece, and I’ve also made available a largely unedited recording of our interview. Our discussion spanned a variety of topics from the relationship of performance art to shamanic practice, to Irish societies treatment of the other, the evolution of performance art, as well as embodiment, the abject, and the phenomenology of performance.



Download: Amanda Coogan Interview (unedited)
Continue reading “Amanda Coogan on Silence – Culture File”

Trevor Agus at SARC – Culture File

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In this penultimate episode of my series of interviews on silence, I speak to Trevor Agus of SARC. Belfast’s Sonic Arts Research Centre is a world class facility for the study of sound. I’d met some SARC staff at the Happy Days Beckett Festival in Eniskillen, including the composer and sound designer David Bird. So it was an enormous privilege to visit in person.

SARC was also recently the subject of an incredible binaural documentary by Clare Cronin, for RTE Lyric.

Trevor Agus’s interest in sound goes back to an adolescence composing computer music. This led to the study of human perception, and his current research – how humans recognise and differentiate sounds. We spoke about the adaptive utility of quiet, the possibility of silence and the pain of tinnitus.

Speaking of silence, Anand Jagatia, one of the attendees at the recent Hearsay Festival in Limerick, has a fantastic piece about silence and tinnitus. Paolo Pietropaolo also produced an incredible piece about his own tinnitus, which Brendan Baker (of Love & Radio) included in his ‘Ears Forward’ listening evening in Brooklyn last year.


Download: Trevor Agus at SARC