The deep thinking DJ.


So this is a bit of a strange one. What on earth am I going to talk about now you might be thinking. Let me explain… But first a small introduction.

During this horrible pandemic of Covoid 19, I decided to treat myself to a new Kontrol S3 DJ controller. I’ve always dabbled in DJing. I actually went to Manchester DJ academy when I was 17/18. I learnt how to beat match and understand the basic 4/4 rules and breakdown of music. It helped a lot.

 

I had belt drive Soundlab decks and a Citronic mixer. I loved it. But I had no idea what I was doing! Not only was I learning how to mix but I was also learning how to keep my belt drive turntables alive! I mixed vinyl and added CD decks a few years later.

Years went by (I won’t bore you!) and now nearly two decades later I am back doing DJ mixes regularly. But now it’s live on YouTube and all MP3! Very different.

So why the deep thinking?

I find myself now planning and thinking about mixing a lot. In-between work and being with my family I am planning my next mix. But it’s not just planning. I think about it very deeply. I plan. I create private YouTube playlists and study the tracks. Whilst working on my laptop I am listening to a playlist over and over again.

Then; I think about the journey, the story. What track’s work, what don’t. Which need replacing or moving to next week’s mix. What is the track telling me? Is it happy, sad, neutral? What is the energy and vibe of the track? What about the lyrics? Where does it sit in the order? Beginning, middle or end? Does it work harmonically? What root key is it?

I wonder how I will mix it with the next track. Where are the breakdowns and opportunities to tease the next track in? When should I drop the base or use a filter effect?

What effects might work well with this track? What won’t? How can I add movement or add a better build-up to the track? The list goes on…

For me, it’s not just about playing the latest music. It’s a journey. A story being played live. I know the tracks are not mine but I desperately want my listeners to understand why I chose the tracks and why I delivered them in the order that I did. As rvery ticking beat passes by the waveform on the screen I look at an imaginary crowd, hoping that they are enjoying it.

But the mix goes quickly. And before I know it I am cueing up the last track, which I have delicately chosen and given the honour of ending this set. The ending track is an important one for me. Like the ending of a film. The last moments mean a lot.

After mixing live for an hour I am knackered. Emotionally drained… But as soon as I put my headphones down the addiction starts again.

It tells me I need to start planning my next mix. 

It’s exhausting.

But I love it.

Recreating glass effects in Notch.


I set myself a little task the other week. I realised I’ve not been very good at making materials that look like glass or transparent plastic, basically any material that is transparent.

I’m still not particularly strong in blender in fact I still really consider myself as a basic user, so I decided notch was the best place to start with this. and then I realised something really obvious to make something look like glass it isn’t about the materials that you put onto the object in 3D it’s more to do with the environment around it. now to some this might be painstakingly obvious and I guess it is obvious but it’s only when you come to make these things do you realise why it’s very difficult to make in software.

So I found myself the last few days looking at an empty milk bottle in the kitchen, I have there been studying thr champagne glass on the side of the dining table at dinner time, then I’ve been looking at vases full of flowers and realising that everything you see in these objects is actually the environment around it reflected on the outside object. It also made me realise that the reflections are in the front and back of the object and not just the front (the front is the surface that is closest to your eyes. But in 3D land this is the camera instead)

Luckily not have some amazing tutorials and sample projects that I’ve downloaded and understood very well. No to not cold environment map environment image glass materials RT glass and others are very powerful.

So far I have managed to recreate or at least basterise some of the projects that Notch provided. It has given me a really good insight into how to create these reflective and transparent materials. Below shows my work in progress.

It’s time to come back!


Hello old and new readers. I have not really used this blog much in the last two years. Moved job, now with two kids in a new house and busier than ever. 

But two weeks into Covid 19 and I thought to myself; I should blog again. I am doing so much interesting software, hardware and workflows research that I wanted to capture it.

Anything I can share I will and if it helps others then that’s a bonus. That’s what this blog was all about from the beginning. So let’s get going again!