I can work on your project.

Find me! Call DAP at 214.350.7678 or email rene@dallasaudiopost.com. Also check out echocollectivefx.com for custom sfx, and tonebenders.net for my podcast.

Friday, December 26

christmas eve gunshoot

I had the great opportunity to head out to a hunting lease about 40 miles west of Lubbock with some good friends and high-powered weaponry in tow.

Recordings and photos to follow, but I'm pretty happy with what I think I have here.

Sunday, November 30

this is one of the coolest things I have ever seen

Seriously. There is a whole world of art that is just flowing in an out of various disciplines that can defy believability. The fact that we have to dig so deeply for it is the problem with it all.

Sound is about motion. There is no stationary noise, so when you turn music into visual art those visuals have to move. Generally speaking moving pictures (and the mass distribution of those pictures) is a relatively recent human innovation, so its ok to be awed by the natural progression of these things.

I have about 15 songs right at the top of my head that I'd love to see rendered in this fashion. It's pretty cool.

Relentless, The REV from flight404 on Vimeo.

Magnetic Ink, Process video from flight404 on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 22

some remarkable california footage

As strange as California is politically and socially, it is flat-out beautiful geographically.

The inherent beauty that much of the state possesses makes it that much more difficult to watch it burn down in the wildfires that seem to continually plague it. I came across this video courtesy Vimeo staff pics. It's pretty good stuff.

Tea / Las Alturas Fire, Santa Barbara California from Patrick Lawler on Vimeo.

here's a hamster

Saturday, November 8

worth the 4 minutes

just check it out. this is pretty darn cool.


Sunday, October 19

Podcasts of TSMHM

I've been without cable television for five or six months now, and I have to say I don't miss it one bit.

Why? Podcasts and the internet.

Basically every show that I bother to watch is packaged, posted, stripped of commercials and automatically updated into the little happy phone that I carry around with me all the time anyway. Better still, I'm able to listen to each podcast in pieces, and with the audio versions I can listen while I'm in the car going to work or to lunch. Also, there are some things out there in podcast land that just don't exist on TV that are very worth checking out.

The couple of notable TV or radio show exceptions (including the Daily Show) are just posted to the websites that day anyway. The one thing that I don't have covered? Hockey on cable only broadcast. Most of the Stars broadcasts are on FSN this year, and that means that I'm either going to a bar to watch them or I'm missing them entirely. That's mostly negated by the fact that I'm attending all of the home games though.

All of the podcasts that I'm going to review are available at the iTunes store or at the website linked. Without further adieu, here's whats in my iPod:

iPhone and other technology related stuff
-If you have an iPhone and love it like I do, check these out-

Today in iPhone

Cool call in styled podcast that reviews iPhone and iPod touch applications, discusses technical issues, and showcases some tips and tricks for advanced users. For example, I learned how to crop a photo in the phone from this podcast. The host is also unafraid to call Apple out when they step out of line. He's on thier case for application censorhip at the moment. Each episode runs near an hour. Highly recommended.

Tekzilla daily tip

Short and awesome video podcast that is packed full of actual useful computer tips and tricks. They cover both operating systems as well as all of the popular applications like firefox and excel. Worth checking out daily. Highly recommended.

CNETs Buzz report (video)

This is a good and quick video podcast hosted by Molly Wood. She's generally fun to watch, and they do cover a good list of cool new things in the technology world. I watch this one very consistently, mostly just as brain filler.

iPhone apps reviewed (video)

This is a video podcast where the author goes through the functionality of an individual application by opening up the app on his screen and going through all of the fucntions and features of the program on camera. He covers regular apps and jailbreak-only apps. The host has a pretty meat-and-potatoes style of presentation, and while his reviews never really have enticed me to pick up a certain app, they certainly have shown me a few to stay away from. His demos are usually very short - each podcast only tends to run a couple of minutes.

Wired's Gadget Lab (video)

Medium length podcast that mostly reviews the latest phones, cameras and other personal digial technology out there. Sokay.

Engadget HD

This is an audio podcast that runs about an hour in length. Topics usually include various consumer level technology products and standards, and while the hosts are usually very knowledgable I've found that they don't always do the greatest job with topic selection. Maybe I'm just less interested in the subtle differences between television brands and technologies, but when I subscribed to an engadget podcast I was hoping for something more computer related. Its a good show if you're always updating your home theater setup though.

Art, learning and other smart stuff
-There's a whole world of smart people out there who have each decided to share a buch of smart stuff with the rest of us. I like that, so I get these-

TED Talks (video)

This is one of the most bountiful podcasts I subscribe to. Every day I get a new 20 minute presentation by some form of genius or another about something either incredibly relevant to the world around us or otherwise just incredible. Learning, culture, arts and humanity are explored and explained by the titans of the field. The podcast also does a great job of mixing in both recent talks and older but still relevant ones, and they're unafraid to put unorthodox people up there - they just have to be icons or geniuses.

I can't recommend this one enough. Here's a little taste

Grammar Girl's quick and dirty tips (audio)

I really enjoy language, and this podcast just makes me happy every time I see a new one waiting for me. Grammar Girl is very easy to listen to, and she covers all sorts of situations that I run into on a daily basis both as a blogger and in my professional life as a person that records and edits scripts. She goes into things like whether to use "data" as a singular or plural noun, why we can be "disgruntled" but not ever really "gruntled" and how to decide whether to use "effect" or "affect." She also provide useful memory tricks for remembering the rules later on. Very highly recommended.

Ask the naked scientists (audio)

This is great call-in styled radio show based in the UK. They talk about a very wide range of subjects, and generally just answer questions about the world around us submitted both by email and on phone calls. I've learned about everything from the difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion to why bumblebees are critically important to our economy here in the US. Great stuff every episode and highly recommended.

Coffee Break Spanish

A very solid and listenable podcast produced by Radio Lingua. The hosts are actually Scottish (and sport the accents to prove it) and they teach Castillian Spanish as opposed to Latin American Spanish, but the differences are subtle and when they do speak the language they do it perfectly. They also do a great job of explaining why things work in Spanish the way that they do, and have interesting segments to practice with. Recommended.

Discovery Channel (video)

This is a series of podcasts that cover a wide range of shows broadcast on the discovery channel. They cover the shows Man vs Wild, Human Body, Dirty Jobs, and Deadliest Catch among others. The podcasts themselves are basically short excerpts of the shows themselves, but they carry enough content to be worth the watch. There is a series in here called "How to Survive" that's worth the subscription all by itself. Its a short 5 minute or so tutorial on how to survive various life threatening scenarios like being attacked by a bear, escaping a car that's submerging in water after an accident, even biochemical attacks. Fast cuts and very cool to watch.
Recommended, and if the How To Survive series was a podcast by itself it would be highly recommended.

Here's a recent "How to Survive" vid.

Stuff you should know (audio)

This one is produced by HowStuffWorks.com, and while it isn't exactly as high minded as the TED or Naked Scientist ones it does cover some interesting stuff. Topics are usually interesting, but the hosts are mostly guys who just seem to be have looked stuff up as opposed to being the definitive experts on the topics that they are discussing. Sometimes you need a grain of salt, but it can be a useful podcast. Only moderately recommended.

NPR Fresh Air, Marketplace and Talk of the Nation (audio)

NPR actually podcasts ALL of its shows from all of its markets. I have a couple more from NPR that I'll get to later, but these are the only real talk shows that I have from them right now. These two are flat out great interview shows though, and Terri Gross and Ira Flato are some of the best interviewers in the business. Marketplace is phenomenal. Each of these shows are recommended if you have the time to listen. I actually much prefer the podcasts to the actual broadcasts of these shows for what its worth. No breaks, and I can pause as needed.

Other stuff
-There's a whole world of random podcasts out there. Here are a few more that I keep handy-

Dilbert (video)

Yes, there is a daily Dilbert video podcast and yes it is the coolest thing ever. Each episode only lasts a few seconds, but what a great way to get started each morning. Dilbert is genius and you should watch it.

NPR 7am newscast (audio)

A five-minute NPR News summary you can take with you. Updates: Daily at 7:15 a.m. EST. Great quick newscap.

NPR All Songs Considered (audio)

Great indie and otherwise high-quality music podcast. Sometimes this podcast has artist interviews, often its just a rundown of some very cool stuff that you'll never hear on the radio and it makes for some really great listening while doing stuff around the house. These guys appreciate the fact that we have ears attached directly to our heads, and are great at digging up some candy to feed them. Highly recommended.

XM Weekly podcast (audio)

This is a weekly music show that actually ends up pretty short by music show standards, but can have some pretty cool stuff in it. Usually they only get to 2 or 3 songs, but they do get quality stuff in there. The link has a bunch of other good XM stuff in it.

Television shows (video)

I'm constantly amazed at how many cable news shows are available in thier entirety as commercial free (or at least drastically reduced) podcasts. Shows include Meet The Press, This Week with George Steph, Countdown with Olbermann, all of the Presidential Debates, and many others. Have a show you like? It's probably worth checking the itunes store or the website for podcasts. Better than tivo!


Well, that's about it. Yes, I do listen to all of these on a regular basis. Yes, it occupies hours of my life, and yes I love it. I'm pretty much on the edge how much media I can consume in this format though, and if I find other stuff that I end up wanting to add to the roll then I'm probably going to have to sacrifice something else.

For what its worth, I have an 8 Gb iPhone, I have iTunes set to only keep the latest episode on the phone, and I tend to have about 2.5 Gb used up on this stuff at any one time.

Hope you find something interesting in there!

Thursday, October 16

Some Stars stuff

Alright, alright, I'm not going to liveblog every Stars game during the regular season. I'm not going to hide my fandom though, and I'll bring some stuff to this space when things pique my interests.

First, a pretty exciting full disclosure:

I've weaseled my way onto the payroll!

That's right, I'm officially backing up the great Jeff K during the in-game presentation.

Mostly my job consists of getting Jeff some Diet Coke when he needs a refill and playing music when he's on camera, but I've picked up heavier loads when he's otherwise occupied. I consider myself to be a relatively inexpensive but effective insurance policy. I stand right next to the ice girls and right below the luxury suites in section 102, which is just behind the home goal (on the opposite side as the zamboni entrance)

It's a good thing I'm getting into all of the home games this year though, because I don't have cable right now and about 80% of the games are on FSN.

Opening night was a blast. I've never seen the season opening ceremonies before, and I have to say it was pretty cool watching every member of the club get introduced in front of the home crowd. Everyone went nuts, the intro videos were rockin', and there were giveaways galore throughout the game.

I also got share the same general physical space as Neal Broten, who is quite the personality. Shayne Churla, Andy Moog, and Craig Ludwig were also in attendance and in the spotlight pregame.

Last night of course, was the NHL debut of Fabian Brunnstrom - the Swedish star who came into the league as a free agent that the Stars managed to somehow sign away from the likes of Detroit and Toronto. He did alright.

I've heard a lot of grousing over the Stars decision to let go of Hagman and Miettenen in the off-season, but IMO the additions of Brunnstrom and Neal along with the development of Eriksson, Crombeen and Peterson will more than make up for that. This team has a lot of offence to be excited about right now.

The problem is on defence. Fistric is not playing to his potential, and neither is Turco. I honestly think that both of them are suffering from a bit of a playoff hangover and that they'll come around as the season wears on, but they certainly are off thier respective games for the moment. Boucher played last night for the first time in a while and was flat out great. Ditto Modano.

I'll get a couple of pics from my perch on Saturday and post them up here later on.

Weeee hockey!!!

Sunday, October 12

I'm not dead yet!

I'm getting better!

Sorry for the lack of content this past month. I've actually got plenty to blog about, but time is a bit fleeting.

I'll go ahead and make this promise in public so that I can be sure to keep it.

Further blogging will include:

1)whats on my iphone
2)whats on my ipod
3)recent Dallas Stars stuff
4)a Pandora/RIAA update


Saturday, September 6

some bowling alley recording

I've had the pleasure of working on a series called Bowlopolis for the BPAA recently, and through the first couple of episodes it became apparent that I needed to go out and record some fresh bowling sounds. SFX libraries were getting me by, but I felt the level of sound design could just go up a couple of notches.

So the gentlemen at the BPAA and the proprietors of Alley Cats in Arlington made thier facility available to me earlier this week. First and foremost, Alley Cats is a top-class facility that is much more than just a bowling center, and I'd recommend it highly.

Also, the staff was remarkably gracious and more than accomodating. They allowed me to come into thier facility more than an hour before opening, allowed me unfettered access to set mics up all over the place, and did a whole series of cool things like turning the lanes on and off while my mics were rolling, leaving lanes off while I chased balls with a mic, leaving lanes off while I poked the pins over with a boom pole, and even bowling a few games for me to record.

I didn't take enough pictures, but here's one of the generic setup:

The overall setup was a Sure KSM-32 there by the lane where the ball makes its initial impact, a stereo Sure VP-88 in front of the pins and aimed at them, a Sure SM-57 back behind that backstop aimed down at the pins for the up-close-and-personal perspective, and of course my trusty Zoom H4 positioned about 8 feet behind that camera angle for ambience.

I also chased a couple of balls down the lane (while running along that side track there) with a Sennheiser MKH-60 shotgun mic.

In the end the recordings were fantastic, and as a happy accident I realized that I had captured an excellent surround setup as well. Back in the studio, I panned the mic on the lane and the one close to the pins hard center, the stereo mic hard left and right, and the ambient mics hard back. The result was some serious reality, and I just loved it.

The whole mess folded down to stereo very well, and i'll post a sample or two later on.

The best thing of it all though, was the fact that I was given the opportunity to do my job on the same level as the most elite and accomplished in my field. The good recordings that are hard to get require good projects, good equipment, and oftentimes exclusive access. This isn't the first time I've taken an ensemble of mics out to the world for recording, but I really do love it every time I do.

I have a really cool job.

Saturday, August 23

The music industry is stupid

The title of this post is not inherently true, but the evidence keeps mounting.

Many people don't have to listen to music on the radio anymore, and most that don't have to will actively avoid it. Talk radio, satellite radio, ipods that hold lifetimes worth of ripped music, and now streaming radio over mobile phones are all dominating the music listening scene that was once the sole territory of over the air broadcast radio and purchased cassettes/CDs.

For years now, musicians and fans alike have lamented the collapse of good music in the musical mainstream. Artists that don't focus group well are not signed, and consequently lots and lots of good music goes underrepresented and unpromoted in the national consciousness.

Further, the labels do a horrible job of promoting their back catalogue, since so much money is spent promoting the next annointed artist. They sit on mountains of musical gold, and falsely assume that the people that would like it both already know about it and have already purchased it.

Enter Pandora.

The Pandora project is one of the most comprehensive, well-executed, and well-implemented musical and social cataloguing and streaming programs created to date. It has become one of the most widely utilized forms of streaming internet radio, and is consistently one of the top applications in the iphone app store. It allows users to custom-taylor music according to their own tastes, while at the same time introducing viable new music from legitimate artists in the same vein. It allows for instant user feedback as to whether you like the song you're listening to or not, one-click purchasing from the itunes music store, provides cover art and musical history of the artist and the specific album, and has addressed the loudness wars by proactively setting levels for each individual song as it is encoded for streaming. It delivers via a simple and good looking interface both on the computer and on mobile devices.

The quality of content is through the roof.

Oh and it makes money hand-over-fist for the record labels, paying out a projected $17.5 million in royalty fees this year alone, according to a recent Washingto Post article.

And the labels are killing it.

Pandora is venture capital funded, and won't become profitable until next year. It pays royalties on a per song/listener basis through SoundExchange, which sets its rates based on a federally mandated system - which doubled prices this year as a result of lobbying by the record lables.

That's why the labels are stupid. They have spent millions lobbying congress for a system that pits the companies that are the most successful at selling thier music against those companies own success. Because it pays per play, the more popular Pandora becomes the less financially viable it becomes - and the venture capital money is about to pull the plug.

Pandora's music database alone should be worth millions to the industry, and it's done the heavy lifting on it's own dime. Its software and intuitive user interface that allows for instant purchasing should be worth even more, and yet it teeters on the verge of bankruptcy because of short-sighted and selfish stances taken by the labels that need to get back into the business of developing and selling music.

Worse, this is a problem that congress has to solve. Well, it doesn't have to - the labels could come to an agreement on the side with Pandora the way that they did with Apple when the itunes store launched - but they're very unlikely to do so. The labels consistently over-value the music recordings and undervalue the distribution and song-selection mechanisms, and this is unlikely to change.

You can shear a sheep as many times as you want. You can only skin it once.

Tuesday, August 12

full review: Zoom H4 (with audio samples!)

Well I got a new toy a week or so ago, and I'm here with the full review of the Zoom H4 handheld portable recorder.

First off, I'll spell out a little of what I was looking for in a recorder so that you can see my perspective as the review unfolds a bit.

The main use I'll have for this recorder is to get sounds from out in the field both on-the-fly and in planned scenarios for use in sound design for television, film, and interactive media. I already have a good supply of gear available to my through my company for major projects, but I wanted some personal gear that I could always have on me for when the moment struck me. I also plan on getting some contact mics for specific recordings of things like guy wires and other stuff that would sound better with mics acutally attached. As such, the primary elements that went into my purchasing decision were:

-usable onboard mics
-XLR inputs
-moderate price
-common solid state recording medium
-96k 24 bit capability

Here's an excellent review with other audio samples that delves into some things that I won't cover like the 4 track and audio effect functions.

So of the good news and bad news, we'll lead with the bad here.

These are the things that I don't like about the Zoom H4:

-Plasticky construction-

Now I know that any piece of gear that I get at this price point is going to make certain compromises, and that they all are going to be made of plastic in this range, but I was honestly surprised at how plasticky the controls felt. My old cell phone felt more reassuring to the touch.

Again, I'm not speaking as much to the chassis here as I am to the buttons and particularly the joystick and the little scroll wheel on the side that any H4 user will become very very familiar with. They feel like a bad bump could snap either one clean off, and they don't exactly inspire the feel of roadworthiness. Thankfully, both are fairly well recessed into the chassis.

-susceptibility to wind noise-

Again - I realize that this can be a function of the price point, but when one considers that this particular box is being marketed as a location recording device with built in mics, the fact that the mics overload when I think about wind makes them a little annoying. The unit does come with a workable windscreen that fits well on the device, but the sheer necessity of the windscreen in most situations revokes a lot of the "it fits in your pocket" usability part of the unit in on-the-fly ambiance and sfx gathering applications.

-menu interface-

This is decidedly not a price point related gripe. Zoom really could have thought out the interface better - if only through programming alone. The interface has you using the scroll wheel on the side in conjunction with the joystick in some confusing and counterintuitve ways.

I think this is a function of the fact that the box tries in some respects to be all things to all people, and as such the architecture is a little schizophrenic.

-preamp control-

This is somewhat related to the menu control gripe, but it has a couple of specifics to go along with it.

First off the preamp control is buried in a menu that requires 3 clicks to access, so God help you if you've got it set in a bad place for the sound you're trying to catch and you need to adjust it quickly.

Secondly, once you do access it via the menu and start to adjust it, the movement is s l o w man. It can take upwards of 10 seconds to do a full 10 db move if you include the time it takes to access the input level via menu. Oh, and the input level is marked in 127 steps as opposed to anything useful like dB or VU.

Third, the preamp doesn't exactly put out a lot of juice. Many of my recordings had the preamp wide open - both with the internal and with external mics. This is fine when using good quality condensers, but I imagine it'd pose a problem with something like an sm-57 (though I haven't tested that specific setup yet.)


really that's it, and while some of those things can be pretty annoying, none really adds up to be a deal breaker by any means.

So here are the things that I like about the H4:

-price point-

The price point is right in my wheelhouse. $250ish including shipping brand new off of ebay is a hell of a deal for any piece of quality, usable gear - but especially for one that includes the rest of the positives that I'm about to list off.


windscreen necessity aside, this is a pretty darn portable piece of gear. It does actually fit in your pocket, and even when toting the windscreen it's not a cumbersome arrangement. It helps if one has a bag to carry the recorder/windscreen/mic stand setup, but there's really no excuse to hear something you like and then not be prepared to record it once you own this thing. The quality won't be what you'll get with a pricier setup, but it won't be so far off that you won't use it either.

-preamp and mic quality-

In my own tests, the preamp and mic quality both belie the clunky exterior on this thing. While I'd personally much prefer an MS configuration than an XY config, nothing on the market seems to have that going for it. The stereo image is a little narrow for my tastes, but I suppose I'm glad that they erred on that side of it than on the too wide side.

That aside, I found the built in electrets to be of high enough quality that I'll use them and be unashamed of the results as they come out of it. They catch the whole frequency range well, and while they're not remarkably linear they're not unpleasant with thier character either.

The preamps are quiet enough to work for grabbing ambiences and the like, though I'll mostly anticipate grabbing loud things, and this box excels at that particular task. There's plenty of headroom in both the mics and the preamp to catch things like motorcycles and construction witn no overload.

You'll be able to judge for yourself with the samples and tests that make up the third part of this review.

-usb computer interface-

This could be worth the price of admission by itself for podcasters and other desktop recordists. The unit can be buss powered via usb, and immediately turns into a cool sounding mic/headphone setup for use in podcasts, skypes, etc. quick, easy, clean, useful.


Ok, enough words - time to listen!

When I unpacked it, I just about immediately grabbed my camera and headed outside to our condo's swimming pool, which happens to have a series of small waterfalls feeding it. I also went to my motorcycle and our communal industrial strength water cooled air conditioner.

Following are the recordings I made along with documentation of the mic position of each. Also note that for each of these (except the motorcycle) the preamp was cranked wide open. Aside from editing, these files are unaltered from the disk - including any gain changes. All photos are of actual mic positions and were actually taken during the recordings.

[click on the photos to hear the recordings]

So that's the representation of what those internal mics and preamps can do. Overall I'd personally label that better than merely acceptable, and I'm very happy with the usability of the files in post situations.

Now onto the shootout!

For the shootout I was hoping to do a couple of things that didn't end up working out, but I think I got a good picture of the relative quality of the mics and preamps in a more critical situation nonetheless.

The first thing that I was hoping to do was to run the internal and external mics on the H4 simultaneously. Unfortunately, the menu options only allows one mode at a time so I had to do a second pass of all of the recording tests with the internals .

The second thing I was hoping to do was to run an iPhone recording at the same time so that I could get a good approximation of how near/far the Zoom would end up to a really crappy recorder as well as the nice one that I was setting up along side it. Unfortunately, the recording software that was available only ended up recording at 16-bit 8k, so once I downloaded the files I realized that they were just too artificially crappy to give me a good comparison.

With that out of the way, here's what is included in the test:

-Simultaneous setup of the Zoom H4 and the Sound Devices 744T
-recording 24 bit 48k
-each recording device powering a Schoeps CMC6 with hypercardiod capsule
-Zoom H4 input set to 127 (wide open)
-Sound Devices 744T input set to 2 o'clock
-a separate pass of the same tests with the Zoom H4 internal mics at the same settings

The Sound Devices/Shoeps setup is a version of the industry standard for high-end film recording, and the price of entry for that particular combination runs around $4,000 for the Sound Devices and $1700 for the mic/capsule combo. Of course you get much more functionality out of that setup than you'll ever get out of the H4, but you're also paying for the quality of the preamps/clock/converters as well.

This also means that I'm plugging a mic into the H4 that's around 7 times it's price. :)

Here's a pic of the setup:

And here are the results:

744T-with shoeps-glass-ping.wav
744T-with shoeps-paper.wav
744T-with shoeps-pretzels-glass.wav
744T-with shoeps-pretzels.wav
744T-with shoeps-voice.wav
744T-with shoeps-water.wav

Zoom H4-built in mics-glass-ping.wav
Zoom H4-built in mics-paper.wav
Zoom H4-built in mics-pretzels-glass.wav
Zoom H4-built in mics-pretzels.wav
Zoom H4-built in mics-voice.wav
Zoom H4-built in mics-water.wav

Zoom H4-with shoeps-glass-ping.wav
Zoom H4-with shoeps-paper.wav
Zoom H4-with shoeps-pretzels-glass.wav
Zoom H4-with shoeps-pretzels.wav
Zoom H4-with shoeps-voice.wav
Zoom H4-with shoeps-water.wav

So what's my take on the results?

Well the 744T is clearly quieter than the Zoom H4, but that's to be expected. With that said, I was very impressed with how close the H4 preamps ran to the 744T, particularly with regards to dynamic range and frequency responses. And while you can't really do foley work with those preamps, that's about the only thing you can't do with them (and who does foley with a portable recorder anyway?)

I was also happy with how the internal mics held up - especially given the price differential. They're certainly not capable of anything near what the Schoeps can do - especially on the voice - but they were true enough to make me a believer on the pretzel and paper tests. The susceptibility to wind noise will always be problematic, but the recordings will be worthy of the things that I throw at them.

There you have it. Not scientific, but certainly more comprehensive than most of what you'll find out there. Thanks for sticking with this super long post!

Friday, August 8

Garfield minus Garfield

this comes courtesy of Derek at meanwhile back at the ranch, but it's just pure pure pure solid gold.

Garfield Minus Garfield

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

Easily the best thing I've come across on the internet in a good little while.

Saturday, July 19

Dark Knight dominance

This film is going to blow the doors off of the record books.

Its already setting preview and other records, and at least locally its selling out or nearly selling out every showing (including IMAX - no tix left the entire weekend) until Monday.

All of this is with good reason. I remember watching Batman Begins, and immediately thinking to myself "this is one of the best films I've ever seen." Well The Dark Knight is better, and by a lot.

As we made our way into the packed theater I was very concerned that the film, and Heath Ledger's Joker in particular, would not be capable of living up to the considerable hype that preceded them. Boy was I wrong.

This is a flat-out spectacular work of art across so many disciplines:

-first of its a near-flawless script. On a fundamental level, nobody says or does anything that doesn't make any sense in the context of the story, which is a big enough challenge in itself most of the time. The pacing is excellent (I did not expect the film to be as long as it was, and only after it was over did I realize that the run time approached 3 hours), and the content is top-notch. Most films don't challenge vigilante heros to justify their lawlessness outside of the context of "the govt is ineffective so I'll do this myself," but boy this one does and it does it in a way that is neither distracting to the rest of the film nor cheezy or pandering to the viewer. In fact, Batman's struggles with the legitimacy of his actions evolve into the primary sub-plot of the film - as opposed to the typical female love-interest sub plot. That falls to third. And of course we grow to care about all of the characters (including the villains) and to believe that everything that we're seeing could actually happen. Nothing was shoehorned in here. Everything had its place and served a purpose. Also, I love love love the fact that they never bothered to discuss the origins or true motivations of the Joker. Its the repeated and firm resistance to such non-useful story elements that allowed the writers and producers to pack this film with interesting and relevant stuff from top to bottom.

-Visually the film was spectacular. There are some shots of things blowing up and burning down that I have no idea how they accomplished them, because they don't look like CGI. The stuff that obviously is CGI is only identifiable as such because you know that it's the only way they could pull something like that off, not because it draws attention to itself visually. (with the exception of one minor traumatic spoiler effect that caught my eye as it was happening). I still love the fact that they shot Gotham in Chicago instead of NY, and watching the evolution of the
Batsuit was cool. Also there is a spectacular car chase scene.

-Casting and acting. Casting Heath Ledger as the Joker was probably intially seen as a bold stroke despite his post Brokeback Mountain star status, but we all know the story of both his acting in this film and what the role must have done to him as a person. Aaron Eckhart is an excellent Harvey Dent - so pretty that its all the more disturbing when he's not anymore. Of course, it helps the acting when you have a script of this caliber with which to work (I can imagine if Ledger and Nicholson were to switch Jokers that Nicholson would be getting the all of the glory out of the transaction), but this is one of those films in which the actors lived up to the characters they played, just about universally. With that said, Heath Ledger's Joker is bound to go down as one of the best villains in cinematic history - both because of the deranged and anarchistic acts that he was allowed to perform, and because of the wildness and intensity that he brought to the character. His passing at this point in both his career and this franchise is a devastating blow to the art of cinema, and it will be felt for a long while after the third Batman is released.

-Mix, sound design, and score. Here's where I geek out, and I love it. First off, here's an excellent article with the sound designers from Mix Magazine. They spent a month recording sound effects before production even started, and got to do cool things like mic up a Tesla car to use as an element for the bat-pod. All of the sound design was very gritty and real, which added remarkably to the overall believability of the film. The interaction between the sound design and music was obviously collaborated, and was done very well. The mix was constantly weaving between strong score, no score, heavy sound effects, no sound effects, and clear, intellible dialogue. I didnt notice any ADR, which is a good thing. There were also some very cool moments where the mix got very very stripped down during some climactic moments, and only the central sound design element was heard - like in the 18-wheeler flip. Its aggressive decision-making, and I loved it.

So go see this movie. I'm seeing it again as soon as I can get an IMAX ticket.

Friday, July 18

come on in, the iWater's fine!

so we've finally been assimilated and I'm telling you its great.

after standing in line for a few hours on wednesday and getting cut off, and then having the lovely and talented Mrs stood in line from 7:15 am till around 10:30 to get our two new sparkling shiny happy ...

iPhone 3Gs!!

I'm flat out in heaven. This is just the biggest personal technology upgrade that I think i've every encountered (including the acquisitions of my first several computers).

much ink has already been spilled about this, and I can only really echo what the common knowledge is of the device so far.

-typing is tricky and slow
-the maps freaking rock
-the internet rocks
-the iphone apps are spectacular
-itunes is taking over my computer (and i'm a little miffed about that)
-watching tv on the iphone is kewl
-call quality and coverage has been good

other things that i've noticed are

-i have to keep it in my pocket while driving or I'll get in a damn wreck
-i have to figure out how to make it sync my photos without duplicating them on my HD
-i'll never be lost again, and for the most part I'll never need a local guide to help me find things like BOA atms or food in any stateside municipality again
-the pandora app makes kittens laugh and play with string

Tuesday, July 8

aftermath:blowing stuff up on the 4th

Went to Lubbock with the wifey over the holiday weekend to catch up with some friends and fire off some fireworks. (really, I just like getting in the car and traveling with her)

It was a pretty short, yet eventful trip. We showed up on the 4th and immediately got to drinking and lighting fireworks. As I listened to the barely legal mortars going off I realized that now more than ever do I regret not owning a solid portable recorder, but I'll get one soon enough.

All in all it was a good time, and it was good to see everyone again. I'm lucky to have the caliber of friends that I do.

The next day was more eventful though. While the lovely and talented Mrs Coronado was off at the lake with some of her friends, I ended up prepping to go to the gunshop to buy ammo with mine. Now, I've never shot a gun (my parents never even let us have bb guns when we were kids) but I've also never really found that to be something that's lacking in my life either.

In my opinion guns aren't good for much in everyday life, but hey I'm a guy and firing weapons at little paper targets at a range was bound to be a good time.

When I first bore witness to the arsenal that my long-time friends had collected I was pretty amazed. Shotguns, rifles, handguns, and of course semi-automatic weapons. Now I had always known that my friends were kind of West-Texasy southern Republican types, but I really hadn't mentally come to grips with exactly how how deep that particular vein ran. When I informed them that I'd never shot a gun in my life, everyones eyes got wide, fingertips came together, and big smiles started showing up. They were loving the idea of popping my weapon cherry.

So we loaded up on ammo (which is pretty expensive) and headed out to the firing range.

This is the first gun I've ever shot.
Its a Bushmaster M4, and it is a beast. Its a semiautomatic, though I was only shooting one round at a time. I expected it to have a lot of kick, but due to the compression chamber over the barrel there it was remarkably forgiving.

Here's me getting ready to shoot for the first time -

And here's my shocked expression after letting the first round go.

Dude, that think went BANG!

We also shot a few other rifles and some handguns that day. I was actually pretty ok with the handguns - hitting a bullseye at 25 yards and otherwise marking up the target pretty well. A lot of firing weapons seems to be about being able to breathe, so between that and Red Steel on the Wii I kind of had a head start.

The guys were kind enough to teach me how to set up, load and fire everything and I'm pretty grateful for that.

At the top of my mind now is a return trip with a good recording rig so that we can do it again and this time document it correctly.

Of course we got into a political discussion on the way back, but that was to be expected. I still love them despite their political views, and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Monday, June 30


man what a great flick.

It's true what you're hearing - it is a little preachy. But that's ok, because its a flat out masterpiece.

This film is a culmination of the collaboration of the best of the best in the story, animation, and sound design fields. As an audio guy, I think that this has to be the most interesting sounding films I've heard in a long time, and I loved every little sonic nuance about it.

so, I'm going to geek out for a bit now.

First things first, here are some short features with Ben Burtt - who was credited with sound design/character voice design, and the voice of Wall-E - and has been getting a fair amount of traditional media press since the release of the movie.

The La Times

In the end, Burtt used his own heavily tweaked voice for Wall-E's rudimentary speech. "I was experimenting with processing human voice input," he says, "and it was like Dr. Jekyll in his lab: 'Well, there's nobody else around -- I guess I'll drink the potion.'

Info and a cool behind the scenes movie courtesy of FilmSoundDaily

the Ben Burtt interviews on FilmSoundDaily (All kinds of gold in there. Check them out)

a thread on the Gearslutz forum about the film. This is a forum where pro audio guys hang out, and the response is universally positive to the film.

the Kyma, Burtt's most likely weapon of choice when designing the voices in Wall-E. (you can see him working his wacom tablet around on it in one of the filmsounddaily vids)


I think the film is another in a string of superior efforts out of Pixar. The story always comes first, and in this film almost everything except for the story has been stripped away. Wall-E is an emotional flick, but it is one in a very universal and authentic way. With the language mostly stripped away, the robots of the film are essentially very intricate puppets that are masterfully coaxed around a series of spectacularly detailed sets. And they're not just dancing, they're genuinely connecting with their lives, thier work, and each other in a way that the humans in the film are not.

(I'll note that our lack of ability to connect is a very prominent recurring theme in lots of the films I've seen recently - There Will be Blood, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, even back to The Matrix and V for Vendetta. Maybe that speaks more to my taste in film than to the state of filmmaking, but hey whatever.)

The point is that the story is told to a large degree in pantomime, and it's done brilliantly. It so flat out refreshing to not have plot hammered down my neck. The subtlety of all of it - story, imagery, and sounds - survives, and the film is all the better for it.

Go see it. I've run out of words and i have not done it justice.

Monday, June 23

the passing of George Carlin

I really liked George Carlin. He was a personal hero of mine, and I'm greatly saddened by his death.

This man was brilliant mix of fearlessness, intelligence, wit, and personality.

I recently missed an opportunity to see him play a set over in Fort Worth. I'll regret that forever now, since that was really the only opportunity I'll have ever had to watch him in person.

He said in an interview that in another life he'd probably be a teacher. I think he'd make an excellent journalist as well.

The world needs more people like George Carlin, and it will mourn its loss and feel the emptiness he leaves behind for quite some time.

RIP, and we'll miss you.

Thursday, June 19

personal showcase:the airforce technology site

I did the sound design for this website recently, and I'm really pleased with the implementation and the way that it all came together.

The fine folks over at Tribal DDB did the flash implementation, and once the site was pretty much complete they sent it to me. I did a full report of the sounds that I thought it needed, they revised the list and we got to work.

I used a lot of cameras as my source audio for this stuff, running it through dopplers and other sound-bending things, and I'm really happy with the results.

I need some more servo-type machines to record for future stuff, but the library elements that I added as a result of this project have become staples of my arsenal and are just incredibly useful.
Any comments and critiques are welcome!

Saturday, June 7

showcase - some minimalist sound design

I really like what the modern world of animation has done for those of us who make a career as sound designers. Now it's true that a lot of modern animation has become overblown and confused, but those elements of our digital lives just serve as the perfect backdrop against which to lay the minimalist things I'm about to present.

I'll also state that I certainly don't believe that all complex animation sequences are bad artistically speaking (see Transformers and Iron Man), I'm just saying that the truly minimalist stuff forces the sound designer to bring his absolute best game because the audience is guaranteed to have the capacity to perceive every detail.

When complex visual and aural elements are done at the highest level the viewer can watch a sequence repeatedly and see new and cool things each time. When minimalist visual and aural elements are done at the highest level the audience can be focused in enough to catch the nuance of each element on the first or second pass.

Toyota's Yaris spots are an excellent example of this:

There are tons of those on youtube, but the net effect is pretty stark. Lots and lots of whitespace visually, which removes the need for ambient sound in the sound design - leaving room for all of the little reverb tail, and dog-tag jingle details to shine through. It also means that the sound designers have to start with the highest quality recordings for everything not synthesized because of just how naked everything is.

Here's another from dydree Media for Nickelodian. (sorry, couldn't embed that one)

IMO the sound design is just a notch down from the Yaris stuff, but its still a very high level and many of the same minimalist elements and restrictions are in place. No defined environment so therefore no ambient sounds and a very stark soundscape which leaves lots and lots of room for detail.

All of this eventually culminates into an event that I really can't wait to experience. Pixar's Wall-E

Wall E's lead sound designer is the full on modern legend Ben Burtt. You might recognize some of his work:

-The Star Wars franchise where he dreamed up the sounds for (among other things)
---R2 freaking D2
---the lightsaber
---the x-wing
-The Indiana Jones franchise
-The Dark Crystal
-...well, you've got the wiki link there. He's the man.

So here are some of Wall-E's minimalist beginnings:

and here's a pretty straightforward evolution from minimalist to full on film-level complexity.

Based on what I've seen so far, I'm very hopeful that the film will allow all of that room for Burtt's creative genius to come through. Taking on a project of that nature has to be one of the most difficult things a sound designer can hope to get himself into, and I'm just flat out excited to see what Burtt has come up with.

Wednesday, June 4

on anonymity

Since the inception of this blog I've been struggling with a certain catch 22:

On one hand I'd love to express the entirety of my thoughts and to take personal credit for all of the cool things that I may dream up or opine.

On the other, I have a number of personal and professional obligations that restrict my ability to freely express myself in a public and permanently documented forum.

Still struggling with this.

Saturday, May 31

smart people, stupid things

Stumbling around today and I found this excellent article.

It discusses the elephant in the room with regards to passionate debates between smart people, both of whom are positive that the other is wrong. I've certainly engaged in a number of these debates with friends and co-workers, and while I've never lost ;) these conversations certainly do cause some measure of consternation.

More than one time I've thought to myself "man, how can such a smart person be arguing so passionately for something so damn STUPID?"

Some highlights:

The problem with smart people is that they like to be right and sometimes will defend ideas to the death rather than admit they’re wrong. This is bad. Worse, if they got away with it when they were young (say, because they were smarter than their parents, their friends, and their parent’s friends) they’ve probably built an ego around being right, and will therefore defend their perfect record of invented righteousness to the death. Smart people often fall into the trap of preferring to be right even if it’s based in delusion, or results in them, or their loved ones, becoming miserable. (Somewhere in your town there is a row of graves at the cemetery, called smartypants lane, filled with people who were buried at poorly attended funerals, whose headstones say “Well, at least I was right.”)

Short of obtaining a degree in logic, or studying the nuances of debate, remember this one simple rule for defusing those who are skilled at defending bad ideas: Simply because they cannot be proven wrong, does not make them right. Most of the tricks of logic and debate refute questions and attacks, but fail to establish any true justification for a given idea.
A common justification for abuse of short term thinking is the fake perspective defense. The wise, but less confident guy says “hey – are you sure we should be doing this.” And the smart, confident, but less wise guy says “of course. We did this last time, and the time before that, so why shouldn’t we do this again?”. This is the fake perspective defense because there’s no reason to believe that 2 points of data (e.g. last time plus the time before that) is sufficient to make claims about the future. People say similar things all the time in defense of the free market economy, democracy, and mating strategies. “Well, it’s gotten us this far, and it’s the best system we have”. Well, maybe. But if you were in that broken down Winnebago up to your ankles in gasoline from a leaking tank, smoking a cigarette in each hand, you could say the same thing.

Smart people, or at least those whose brains have good first gears, use their speed in thought to overpower others. They’ll jump between assumptions quickly, throwing out jargon, bits of logic, or rules of thumb at a rate of fire fast enough to cause most people to become rattled, and give in. When that doesn’t work, the arrogant or the pompous will throw in some belittlement and use whatever snide or manipulative tactics they have at their disposal to further discourage you from dissecting their ideas.

So your best defense starts by breaking an argument down into pieces. When they say “it’s obvious we need to execute plan A now.” You say, “hold on. You’re way ahead of me. For me to follow I need to break this down into pieces.” And without waiting for permission, you should go ahead and do so.

I think its a truly excellent article and I've forwarded it to a friend that I have these kinds of debates with all of the time. I also think that it's an excellent lens through which we and the media should examine political rhetoric. If the rhetoric relies on weak data points, glosses over legitimate concerns, and assumes certain things are obvious which are in fact not obvious, then it should be viewed with suspicion.

Saturday, May 24

continuing on...

Well, with the end of the Stars season I'm going to continue on, blogging about things that are interesting and engaging to me.

I've got a couple of plans for the near future in this space, so stay tuned. I don't tend to publish thoughts until after I've thought about them. :)

Tuesday, May 20

what a ride!

The season was over, but they kept on fighting and the crowd of twenty thousand was still behind them.

It seemed like the Wings were taking penalties on purpose, because they were outscoring the Stars while shorthanded consistently, and it was messing up the flow of the game. They took another, but this time Stephan Robidas finally broke through and scored. Twenty thousand went crazy one more time. The horn blared, the music played, the people screamed, the towels twirled.

It was a hopeless cause. The Redwings were up 4-1 with one minute to go. The building got on its feet and started cheering, heaping praise on the little team that could. It was bitter and sweet, but mostly it was sweet - even in the loss. The whole city was buzzing about this team and about this game. CBC was in the house, VS was in full force, and the fans were in full throat.

"Mart-ee Mart-ee" as the final horn blew. Morrow and Ribero skated off the ice one final time with sticks held in the air as the capacity crowd roared one final time. We were all proud of them, and we all savored the run.

Those of us that saw every game will someday look back at this year and say "Man, remember that? Remember watching the young D guys show up and shut down the freaking Ducks that year? Remember that Sharks game 6 where Turco showed that he really had it? Remember Morrow showing the world that he could be the best captain in the damn league? Man, that was great!"

And it was.

Saturday, May 17

a creative endeavor worth taking a look at

So I was stumbling around on the intenets today and I found this little gem. Its basically a stop-motion graffitti movie by an artist named BLU, but it incorporates so many disciplines that I found it to be very very cool.

As you watch it, consider the fact that he's manipulating and utilizing
  • natural light
  • 2d space and paints
  • 3d space
  • camera angles
  • clear and obstructed views of the action
  • indoor and outdoor environments
  • multiple simultaneous objects
  • sound
  • public property and the people around it
  • materials (including brushes, batteries, and paints)
  • previous frames of action (painting over the last frame)
When you take it all in and realize that the artist basically had to keep all of these factors in his head simultaneously its a pretty amazing little film to watch. The content is a little weird, but the technical aspects are outstanding.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 14

one more game!

It was a glorious win and a proper sendoff by the fans to the team that exceeded all expectations. Stars win 3-1 at home with goals by Erickson, Modano and Morrow. AKA future, past, and present.

Marty's still getting beaten on the glove side, and it's happening enough that I hope he focuses on it in the offseason, but the rest of his game was rock-solid tonight and he earned the number one star.

A spectacular 6 on 3 penalty kill in front of eighteen thousand standing screaming fans. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Lidstrom all on the ice. Each one of the greatest players in hockey. Each and all of them were shut down for the final minute of the game, and it was awesome.

Great win. Just great. One more game. then maybe one more...

Friday, May 9

Dazed and Confused in D-Town

I was reluctant to write a series preview on this thing yesterday because I feared what I would find and would then have to predict.

The Wings are an excellent team that are clicking on all cylinders right now, and the Stars are going to have the toughest of times advancing through this round. After losing 4-1 yesterday they're chasing the series early now, and will have that much more pressure put on themselves as they now have to win 4 of the next 6 in order to advance.

At the end of the Sharks series, I described the three types of goals that can get by a goaltender:
-impossible to stop (deflections, cross ice defensive breakdowns)
-goalscorer's goals (breakaways or otherwise uncontested shots that are placed perfectly)
-everything else (aka soft goals)

So lets review the goals shall we?

The early Detroit goal featured Turco getting beaten twice from the blueline past a screen in front of the net with the Wings on the power play. Lidstrom initially beats Turco with a slapper that ricochets off of the bottom of the far post and back out into the slot, where Rafalski grabs it, sideskates two steps and then beats him again, this time elevating over the pads.

Its a generally ugly sequence for the Stars D in general and the goalie in particular. The refs called the game tight, but as usual they were zoned in on hooking and tripping and not crosschecking and roughing (though Fistric did get nailed with a weak roughing call that set up this power play). How do you prevent this goal? Clean up the front of the net, and let Marty see the puck. He was completely screened, but at the same time played off of his fundamentals and was in no position to stop the second shot.

The second powerplay goal was set up just like so many the Wings have cashed in on this year. Versus actually did a cool package where they showed three separate goals that looked exactly like the one that Franzen scored. A wing skates to the middle of the blue line and fires it up and off of Franzen's stick. Goalie has no chance.

You'll see a few great Turco moments in between the second and third goals. Turco had great moments in this game, but was not consistently great, and his team couldn't bail him out with scoring.

The third powerplay goal was the same story over again. Defenseman (this time Lidstrom) firing from distance through a screen/tip at the lip of the goal (Holmstrom). Anaheim only had Pronger going to the front of the net and the Stars dealt with him well. Detroit has everyone going there though, and they're getting there unmolested. The replay showed the puck careening off of Holmstrom's shoulder and over Turco, who was right up on him. No chance for the goalie on that one either.

That one was the backbreaker, but then there was insult to injury as Filppula walked in all alone and put one past Turco. I'd love to call this one the "goalscorer's goal" type tally, but really Marty didn't challenge him, sunk back into his net, and didn't give himself a chance to make a save there. That one has to be called a softy.

And that was all she wrote. Morrow got his goal and continues his hot streak, but there are deeper things wrong with this team right now.

The Wings at times looked as though they were reading the Stars playbook. When the Stars would get the puck down low and try to cycle, the Wings would just jump into the passing lanes and casually pick up the puck and skate it out. The Stars couldn't get through the neutral zone, couldn't generate shots, and couldn't stop giving up breakaways.

What needs to get better in game 2?
  • Prison rules in front of the net please. The refs aren't calling crosschecking in the playoffs, so make any Wing withing coughing distance of Turco pay for admission. This single element is a major key to much of the Wings' scoring abilities, and should be prioritized
  • Stay physical, but don't be stupid. A physical forecheck is going to be the best way to generate offense, but the Stars can't get out of position looking for hits or else this series will look like Stars/Ducks but in reverse. Miettenen has been hitting more in the playoffs, which has been earning him ice time. Ott, and Norstrom need to follow that trend as well.
  • Don't take penalties. Specifically, don't put the stick near the belly button. You can't do much about tripping since the refs like to call dives, but at least don't hook.
  • Score on the power play.
That's a lot, and I'm not confident the Stars can win this series without some significant help from the Wings at this point. Their knob goes to eleven.

Monday, May 5

On to the Western Conference Finals!

What a freaking game. I'm still basking in it all.

The end result of a pressure-packed game 6 was an epic that the DFW metroplex and the hockey world will remember for years to come.

It was glory, honor, sport, passion, and excitement.
It was tension, suspense, stress, and worry.
It was more than a hockey game, and it deserves the press that it's getting.

Much ink has already been spilled, and I'll sort it all out for you.

First, the box score (with video replays!) and stats sheet.

You'll notice the obscene ice time logged by players like Zubov, Campbell, Ribero, Thornton, Morrow, and Marleau. You may also notice that the Stars rookie BJ crombeen logged about 2 minutes of ice time in the game, effectively shortnening the Stars bench from the outset.

Both teams took over 55 shots and had about another 30 blocked. Both teams had around 40 giveaway/takeaways. The faceoff percentage was near enough to even. Most distinctively though, both teams were physical, but Dallas logged 88 freaking hits in the game, while SJ had 37, and Brendan Morrow had the hit of the year at the end of the third, laying Michalek down and out with a the purest hockey hit you can make.

Next, we have media pontification.

the recap (for reference)
the Stars official happiness (for happiness)
the local hockey sports talk guy's post (worth the read, and the comments)
the local newspaper pontification (with links to even more articles)
the SJ paper (remarkably introspective and respectful)

There was a general consensus on a couple of things:
-Morrow and Turco owned this game. Morrow ran amok, Turco was amazing, and they were the stories of the game.
-Nabokov's save on Richards was one of the best saves ever. I couldn't see the save itself well from my vantage, but everyone in the building thought the game was over when Richards got the shot off, and the replays are clear evidence of excellence. The game ends there against almost every other goalie in the leage, and even against Nabby probably the majority of the time. That was a highlight reel save.
-Morrow's hit on Michalek changed the game. Watch the hit and judge for yourself.
-Both teams played with pride, determination and passion throughout.

Now for the stuff that you haven't heard yet:

  • Its mentioned in the articles, but the crowd at the AAC last night was fantastic. Its being called the single greatest sports night of the AAC venue to date by a certain radio talk show host, and I'd tend to agree. Everyone showed up early, stayed up late, and lived and died with every scoring chance, and there were many. I recorded a game in the Ducks series, and I may post a little audio here in the future, but rest assured that it's freaking great. The Fanatics were loud and crazy all night and into the moring, and they paced the frenetic crowd throughout. Many props to them. I would love to go on about the atmosphere, but you really can't know unless you were there. 1 am on a Sunday night, and 90% of a capacity crowd was still there, shouting at the top of their collective lungs on every play. In my opinion basketball couldn't match that atmosphere if it tried.
  • Toby Peterson had the game of his life. He's a minor-league callup with almost zero NHL experience, and he had several incredible shifts in regulation, and it will be all kinds of fun to watch him continue to progress.
  • Ribero had a primo scoring chance in the third overtime. The puck came to him all alone in front of Nabokov, and he never got a great shot off. He was all alone.
  • Turco made a few of the exact saves that he had been missing in the previous two games. I'm talking specifically about unmolested breakaways. Campbell had a chance in the third period where Turco made the exact save that he missed in game 5. Also, the 2nd overtime was littered with horrible Stars turnovers that Marty cleaned up. He was incredible throughout, but he was specifically making certain saves that he had been getting beaten on just a 48 hours before.
  • The Sharks were flopping early and often in regulation. The two penalties awareded to them in the first period continued the rough stretch for the refs in this series. I'm not a homer when it comes to flops, and these were clear examples.

and now a few pics:

pregame they set all of the rally towels out on each seat

Handshake baby!

WCF matchup and breakdown upcoming. Breeng on teh weengs!

Sunday, May 4

pre-game 6 thoughts

It's 10 am, the game isn't until 8 pm, and I'm already just bouncing around with nervous energy.

The first thing I read this morning just filled me up with pride and confidence.

There's the captain speaking plainly about the situation in which the Stars find themselves, and sounding like a man that's going to go out there and wreak some havok.

"I enjoy it, to tell you the truth," Morrow said Saturday. "I enjoy listening to the media saying the pressure is all on us. I enjoy listening to [Sharks coach] Ron Wilson saying how excited he is about trying to make history. I enjoy hearing people say that we're ready to fold up.

"I enjoy it, because it makes it that much more enjoyable when we prove them all wrong."

Morrow will not let his team go quietly into the night. He won't let them lose confidence and fold up, and this is a team that likes being an underdog.

When the Stars went into game 1 in the Shark tank vs the number 2 seed who was picked by more than one hockey mind to win it all this year, they were the heavy underdogs and won the game.

Everyone expected the Shark's best effort in game 2, the Stars still played the role of underdogs, and they won again.

Then at home the Sharks touted the strong road record, the dominance in Dallas, and the desperation that they needed to have. People said they were due, that Dallas wasn't talented enough to back them into a corner, and yet the Stars won again as underdogs.

Since that game the Sharks have been the underdogs. Maligned by their local media, questioned and booed by their fans, they're the mirror image of the Stars and they too have prevailed in the underdog role.

Suddenly the Sharks have good goaltending, timely scoring, and stifling defensive play. Suddenly they're the favorites again, and that's exactly where the Stars need them to be.

"it makes it that much more enjoyable when we prove them all wrong."

-Brendan Morrow, Dallas Stars captain

Here are a few things that I'm positive we'll see in tonight's game:
  • Brendan will be pumped up and dominating the ice. His game is reaching a crescendo here, and he'll be rested enough to run at his A game.
  • The crowd will be the best it has ever been. At least early, and especially if the Stars start scoring. This playoff crowd has been exceptional. They live and die with every shift, every save, every shot. There will be tons of energy in the building tonight.
  • Thornton will be scary as hell. He's the focus of everyone's attention and he's elevating his game as well. He can be held in check for stretches, but it's exceedingly difficult to do that for an entire game.
Here are a few things I'm not sure about:
  • Officiating. The officials have had a rough series in general. They've blown calls, made good calls that have been overturned, missed calls, and made calls on invisible plays. This series has been a very civil one with respect to roughness in between plays, so the officiating crew and the system itself has been free to focus on calling a fair game instead of keeping players under control. That trend should continue, and if it does they have no excuse for imprinting themselves on the game the way that they did in game 5.
  • Goaltending. Both Turco and Nabokov have been excellent in stretches, and both goalies have been beaten by breakaways. Both have excellent defensive hockey players in front of them and neither has been seeing a ton of shots. Nabokov looked fatigued early in the series, but he seems on his game at this point. He's giving up rebounds and getting beaten 5 hole though, so the forumla for success is pretty straight forward. Turco is his usual 95% excellent 5% "what the hell was that?" self. He's not giving up rebounds and he excellent in scrums, but he's getting beaten on the glove hand and the Sharks are working that part of the net repeatedly. If this ends up as a goalie battle then the Stars are in a little worse shape than the Sharks here, but there is enough offensive capability in these teams that it may not come down to that.
  • Defense. The Stars Niskanen has been confused and nervous at times, and while he doesn't tend to make horrific errors he's less prone to good solid play down behind his own net than he's shown he's capable of. In my opinion, Fistric and Grossman should be unscratchable given the play that they've show so far, but Tippett seems to disagree with me. And then there's Zubov. He's not in sync with the team yet, and his series so far has looked like a microcosm of when Richards was traded to the team: awesome debut, then ineffectiveness until he re-syncs. Zubie's giveaways are the horrific kind, he's getting hit behind the net more than I'm used to seeing, and there are some scoring chance passes that are going through his stick right now. I think he needs to be backed off a bit, moved to the second powerplay unit so that Mo and Robidas can go back to doing what they had been doing, and generally worked more slowly back into the lineup. On the Sharks side Christian Ehrhoff has been getting schooled. Nuff said there.
Keys to the game:
  • Turnovers. The Sharks as a whole have been prone to turnovers at the defensive blueline and in the neutral zone because they're incapable of dumping the puck in on Turco in order to establish a forecheck. The Stars have generated a number of good scoring opportunities from said turnovers, but have not converted enough because the whole team is generally backchecking hard defensively when those turnovers occur. The Stars are far less susceptible to the same type of turnover, but Zubov has given a couple of goals away with too-cute pass attempts that Marleau has picked off. If they Stars utilize their natural turnover advantage without giving up the horrific type in the offensive zone they'll win this battle.
  • Goaltending. One of these goalies is going to have to make a game-changing save in order to win this game. If Turco makes the save on Campbell in game 5 this series is over. From the goalie's perspective, there are three types of goals in hockey: the goal in which the goalie has no chance (impossible ricochets, deflections, and missed defensive coverages ), the goalscorer's goal (odd-man breakaways that score on excellent shots), and the soft goal (everything else). Neither goalie has proven capable of shutting down the last two types of goals through the length of the series. The one that does tonight stands the best chance of winning.
That's it. There are no gigantic edges to be exploited in this series by either team. Both teams are talented, determined, well-coached, excellent defensively, and made up of human beings. This game will be determined by which team does the better job of creating a good scoring chance with a turnover and then finishing the job.