Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Thoughts on the music business...

I have been doing a lot of research to try and learn more about producing a DVD that has, in one case, a movie on it for retail release, and in another case, the one I will talk most about here today, a music DVD containing a local band playing an old rock song which will include an audio and video performance.

What has haunted me is being ethical. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is alleged to have stated: "Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." And to back that up, As I have been out learning the area around me, I happen to take the back way into Treman State Park outside of Ithaca, NY, along Thomas Road, and when one gets to the entry point, a little cottage of a house is there, and on the mailbox is a Deadhead sticker, and a Princeton University sticker. This sticks with me when I think about this DVD disk effort I am involved in.

I made a pretty good three camera shoot of a local rock band in July of 2013. I volunteered to do this. I paid to rent a stills camera since I didn't have one at the time. I paid for another camera person to be present and shooting, and used the third camera as a lock down head on shot of the stage and band.

The band was nice enough to allow me to do the recording. And I was provided space at the sound booth to record and plugin for electricity.

I am not going to write more about the production itself on purpose. The blog today is about dealing with royalties and copyright and how difficult I have found it to get an answer on a direction to take, so ultimately I am not going to end up making a choice, that results in choosing the lesser of two evils.

I made a youtube video, click here to view and listen to it, which are primarily my picks of the music I wanted to edit from the event. I have every intent of putting the whole event together as a "feature" length piece, but I also have an interest in creating a DVD of one single song. I am already getting a request for a BluRay disk of the whole event by one of the band members. He has asked twice now for it. I have replied that ethically it is not correct for me to simply hand off a copy of the show as it is someone else's copyrighted music the band performed, and for him to be patient as I go through the learning curve of royalty fees and copyright, and heading towards making a DVD/BluRay disk for possible retail sale.

The first leg of this trip was doing a Google and finding this blog (here is another take on the same discussion by the same blogger (Click Here) that addresses for the indie music maker two available companies that make it possible for retail of downloads and other types of media. The discussion the blogger addresses is which of the two companies is better for the indie music maker to utilize for their own ends. You make music, you want to make a buck off of it, he gives his input on which of the two seem better.

Again though, I don't find what I am looking for. How to take a video recording of a band doing someone else's famous song (Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin), and turn it into a DVD Blue Ray for retail, and pay appropriate royalty fees to the original artists (Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and btw there is a lawsuit against Led Zepp as of the date of this writing because a band of the same era called Spirit used the same chords in one of their songs (Taurus), and now believe they are entitled to royalty fees as a result, Such is not uncommon in the world, people want their due if they believe they are entitled to it, from industry to industry it occurs over and over.

And you want to be an artist?

In hindsight I'd recommend you become a chemical engineer, it pays better, and the hours are a lot less difficult or it seems that way to me.

The most recent email request from the same band member who now ramps up the energy a little, and at the same time downgrades what he termed in a previous email as "nice work" down to a "home video". The idea being to get me to make a BluRay disk for him so he can have it to play, and copy to give to family and friends. And then the problem begins, if I do this for him, I have to do so for everyone else.

Which is what I suspected would happen when I started this, project. I also keep thinking back to my project management class and recall that conflict is a good thing, and I should expect it to get worse, not better, until the end of the project and the end product is finally available, or discarded.

My next effort at research I found the Harry Fox agency. Let me add to this one of my professors in college was Ron Morriseau. He sat on the 17 member commission that formed the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB, aka PBS. When they created that entity they basically lifted the Pacifica model and made it their own, and gave it to the American public. I LOVED having him as a professor. I was relentless about asking questions, and he always gave me answers.

I worked briefly for KPFA, which is Pacifica. Its in Berkeley, CA. Amazing facilities, and people dedicated to an interesting mission. The mission is the reward, if you are wealthy you probably can afford to work there, if you are not wealthy and can work there you will meet amazing people and learn a lot about what isn't in the mainstream media.

From Professor Morriseau I got the term "needle drop fee." This term has been updated into several new terms, a mechanical fee, a synchronization fee, and some others.

And lo and behold I find the Harry Fox Agency. And in that website I find a database called Songfile. From what I have researched this is the company that accepts fees for limited runs of copies of copyrighted music.

  Except that...

Except that they don't do anything that will be a commercial, retail, run. Instead, in reading from the HFA website I believe what I learn is that for a commercially available BluRay disk of a band doing someone else's copyrighted music, you have to go back to the original publisher. So I find a Google image of the original publisher and it is Superhype Music.

A Google of this takes me to the ASCAP website. I have been there before years ago to license my own website for video playback capability. Click here if you wish to visit my website. (No it isn't there presently for reasons this entry in my blog won't go into).

In the ASCAP website it essentially says if you want to do a video you don't need to pay them a royalty fee, just pay the sync fee, and they give the Harry Fox Agency as the collector for this fee.


Breathe a little.

In doing all this research I also learn an interesting little project management formula about trust. Trust equals rapport times competence all over level of risk. This formula can be applied to many areas of anything you may do. Relationships, Facebook posts, etc...

So now I have ASCAP, and I have the Harry Fox agency. And I have my sister-in-law who is an intellectual property attorney, I ask her about HFA, she has never heard of them. Her line of business may preclude her from having ever heard of the Harry Fox Agency.

I emailed ASCAP. And received an email back saying my question is being forwarded to another person, I presume one who is better equipped to answer my question of: What is the royalty fee that has to be paid/accommodated in order to create a BluRay disk/DVD of a local band performing Stairway to Heaven? A limited run of about 200 disks.

And here is another issue. Even if I get an answer from this new person with ASCAP, who is to say I have the CORRECT answer to this question?

There isn't a guidebook on the net that answers this in a nice, easy to follow set of instructions.

Maybe this blog will have the answer someday, and I can get on with making a DVD.

I will keep you posted.


In the meantime...

I have recently created these two videos for the Doritos Crash the Superbowl Contest, please view them, and share them if at all possible as I hope to win this contest, thanks in advance (the rockets red glare video was rejected, no fireworks allowed):

HEY.  ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A missed moment.

This morning on the way to work I saw several picturesque qualities to the sky and air. I try to keep a camera with me as much as possible, but, true to form, I didn't have a camera ready today.

There was a glistening fog today. The temperatures were well below zero. The sun was coming up over the local hills and the fog had a double rainbow. An unusual double rainbow as they weren't very long or tall I should say. And then on top of that, as the sun hid behind the mountains, the most amazing sundog stretched way up into the sky, and it only lasted a couple minutes and was gone.

I made a mistake again as usual. No camera, and I was a little bit late to work, so I wouldn't have had time anyway to stop and take the picture.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

high speed photography

I read as much as I can to stay informed about new technology in a number of different areas. In the last couple of years some interesting new developments have started to take place around high speed photography.

A high speed camera can take multiple frames of images quickly. The question is, what kind of range can be achieved? It is impressive what can be done now, from the single shot camera that can be set to take more than a single exposure, to cameras that are designed to take thousands of frames per second, to a camera developed recently by MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that can take one trillion frames per second.

I first became interested in this when reading about a new camera development, the one above that can take a trillion frames per second, click here for more on this.
At a trillion frames per second this camera has been reported capable of recording the movement of light. One article I read describes one use of this ability. You could, or rather you will be able to, the example explains, put the camera around a corner from an open doorway, flash a light for a millionth of a second, and as the light goes out and bounces around the room on the other side of the doorway, an image of what the inside of that room looks like can be reported. In other words, a new kind of radar for imaging anything that reflects light.

I think it is fair to say that high speed photography, then, has come into a new age.

But, what I report above isn't the only new interesting development.

When I started learning about high speed cameras, I first came across the Flex/Phantom line of cameras.

Then I found Fastec.

And then I found this, the Edgertronic.

What's the difference?

The immediate difference is pricing. The Edgertronic comes in at 6 thousand US Dollars.

Compare that to the others. I checked for a price on a Flex/Phantom and what I got back doing a quick Google search was to rent a Phantom for two weeks off Ebay will cost 2 thousand US Dollars. There are Phantom shops around the world that can make them available readily.

But for the price of 6 weeks of renting a Flex/Phantom, one can BUY an Edgertronic.

In my college courses on TV and Radio production we were taught that if you don't need the equipment all the time to simply rent it, and always use other peoples' money to do so. If you use your own money for production, you slide over into the artist for art's sake category, and making a return on your investment is something you can sacrifice.

'Having stated that, I think if I had the $6,000.00 to spare, I might purchase an Edgertronic.

Ultimately, I'd like the opportunity to compare all of the above sometime, and then give you a hands-on review.


Addendum, conjecture and possibly a hypotheses to the above:

Sometimes I hate the last few minutes of the day as my mind kind of runs unbridled and odd thoughts and ideas come into my mind. Which means I have to get back up out of bed and go write them down so as to not forget them.

For about 22 years I have surmised that invisibility is possible. I have described a crude method a couple of times to some local scientist attached to Corning, Incorporated, as I live here, grew up here, and believe they to be the most interested in such topics. This thinking has also lead me to believe that a computer that runs on light is possible. Well, research shows that quantum processing is on the table.And always when I broach the topics people dismiss me. I even wrote to a Doctor in the US Naval Weapons research area about this invisibility stuff and he ridiculed me by writing to the former owner of the local glass manufacturer, who in turn referred to my idea as a kind of "Buck Rogers" suit.

If you say so.

So I am laying in bed this evening and my mind wraps around the words above, a trillion frames per second.

Fast enough to catch the propagation of light. Fast enough to image a room around the corner and beyond a doorway if a proper pickup was made available.


Turn this thinking around.

The term is referred to as electro-magnetic permeability.

There it is, up there, a trillion frames per second.

Invisibility. It is the essence of the SR-71. It can out run its own ordinance.

That camera up there can out run light, or, in other words, the electro-magnetic spectrum.

If you can do that...

You can turn something electro-magnetically invisible. If you have the proper pickup available.

And can then re-broadcast that to the other side of anything you want to"bend" light around.

That's the elite version of the crude method I proposed 22 years ago.

The real version... passing the electro-magnetic spectrum through molecules...

probably isn't that far away either now.

2nd Addendum to above:

Like I said, the last few minutes before going to sleep.

I have also been paying attention, albeit in my crude way, to this conversation about matching quantum states as a kind of quantum teleportation.

The idea being that if you can make an atom here spin in exactly the same way as an atom over there, you have them mimicking each other's quantum state.

So... you get all the atoms and/or molecules in matched quantum states on either side of something you want to make invisible, call it a state of matter wherein electro-magnetic transference via quantum state exists, photons arrive on one side but are emitted at the other side because the mutual quantum state exists.

And then cobble that together with a trillion times a second.

Perhaps, one level elite higher than the above, and an order twice as high as the original crude method mentioned 22 years ago.

I can see it, can you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Nikon L320 versus the GE 1233

I now have a Nikon L320 DSLR and a GE 1233. Both are more or less considered "point and shoot" types of cameras.

I purchased the Nikon this past Christmas during the Thanksgiving Day sales, which meant my credit card was part of the Target credit card hack of 2013.

When I got to the store it was full of people. I mean really full. You couldn't even enter into the store parking lot. I went clear down to the far end of the parking lot at the other entrance before getting in simply to park.

Then, after going inside the store, I found the electronics kiosk and a salesperson handed me the flyer for the discounted Nikon L320 camera. As I read the specs I thought it has some good features, not great but very good. Like very high megapixels picture output and a 26x zoom lens and 720p video capture. I am into this whole new trend of using still digital cameras as video cameras. The end result can be quite good.

I will post a video later to show how good.

But, I have now spent some time "buddying up" to this new Nikon, and frankly my old GE 1233 does a better job at many things I hoped the Nikon would be better at. And it was $20.00 less.

For example, most of my panorama shots on these pages are from the GE:

And notice that the GE also has an interesting quality, the shot of the bowling alley, and the shot of the church service, they both have this very interesting milky-blurred aspect to them, slightly, lightly, out of focus. They remind me of old paintings, but with new subject matter. The GE does this.

The Nikon has produced one very interesting shot. It is a wide angle of a living room at my Mom's house. The walls have a similar milky soft quality to them, similar to the GE, but lighter, with more definition, but definitely a smoothness that is found in both cameras.

One of the reasons I bought the Nikon was to achieve some other more difficult shots I can't get with the GE, like a shot of the Milky Way. The problem is the Nikon is So automated I can't adjust the shutter timing to stay open long enough to get a decent night shot. There are several automated presets that lead one to believe one can get a decent nightshot, but so far I am not happy with the Nikon based results.

The other issue where the GE is better is the panorama shots I take are 3 panels stitched together in-camera. So for the true photog afficianado one can say the camera did it all when it outputs a nice wide panorama shot. No photoshopping or other software to create the end product.

With the Nikon, it came with panorama "stitching" software. I have to take several shots across a landscape and then import them into the software for the final panorama to be realized. For the true photographer, this can be said to be cheating.

The Nikon does have an amazing zoom, and the wide angle aspect, and macro are something I have yet to try to use to fullest extent. It is my belief this is where the camera will be worth what I paid for it.

The Nikon was "on sale" from $350.00 to $110.00 on the holiday sale. I asked for it from the kiosk vendor who handed me the nice little box. I then turned and went toward the cash registers only to find that the lines went all the way to the back of the store. It was about 920pm, and I wasn't going to wait 3 hours to buy this camera. So I went into housewares and hid it behind a display of pots. Then I went back the next day when the lines were gone and bought it in about 4 minutes.


Friday, January 3, 2014

A photography tip

I was walking along the other day when a friend walked by while walking his pair of dogs.

We started discussing how depressed the area is for work, and then moved onto a discussion about photography.

He was complaining how his camera was difficult to deal with when using the manual settings. I was complaining about how my new camera is so automated there are some adjustments I can't make, and explained how that was frustrating.

We then discussed some thoughts about how to make better night shots of particular subjects. He was interested in getting a better shot of his house, I am interested in getting my first shot of the Milky Way.

And I mentioned how I have my camera on a tripod, but neither camera I have allows me to use a device called a plunger. A plunger was a kind of cable with a screw on one end that allows you to attach it to the shutter release and, when you press the cable at one end, it triggers the shutter release with a minimum amount of disturbance to the camera, allowing you to take a long exposure shot and not have any blurring take place.

While discussing this I also mentioned to him that he use a higher ISO setting on his camera, which allows for a better night shot in some cases.

He replied to my comment about a plunger that I should use the self timer release function.

I have yet to try this.

I will keep you posted.