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The 78 Project: Recording in a Forgotten Format

The modern studio, equipped with the latest microphones, mixers and amplifiers, allows the producer to easily capture recordings with clarity and minimal ambient sound. But for New Yorkers Alex Steyermark and Lavinia Jones Wright, ambient noise is just one of the things they want to capture as they record modern musicians direct to a 78 RPM record, on their 1930s Presto direct-to-disk recorder.

Last year, after learning how to use a Presto machine from mastering engineer Mark Wilder, Steyermark, a film director, editor and producer, said he wanted to get his hands on a Presto recorder for his next film project: a video series showcasing the recordings of musicians on this old time machine.

Aided by Wilder, Steyermark acquired two nearly-functional Presto machines, and combined the parts to create a fully functional device. With writer and producer Jones Wright as his partner on the project, Steyermark began recording musicians in New York for the team’s first Web series, The 78 Project.

“We ask each artist to choose a song from public domain as well as record one of their original songs,” explained Jones Wright. “We have the artists go into the past and find a song they want to interpret and explore the intersection between the old music and their own music on 78s. We want them to hear their own songs on that format and find connections.”

To use the Presto recorder, Jones Wright said she heats an acetate disk under a photographer’s lamp to soften the material, and then places the disk onto the machine, aligning the cutting stylus against the edge of the disk. As the machine records, the stylus cuts into the disk, recording the track. Each 78 holds less than 3 minutes of audio—a factor that often adds an extra layer of immediacy to the performances.

“It took a lot of experimentation to learn how to use it,” said Steyermark. “There was a lot of failure initially and it took some trial and error to perfect our method.”

But once the team got the hang of it, Jones Wright said the result was a completely original sound.

“First, it’s blatantly an analog recording—it has cracks and skips, a little bit of a hiss—but there’s also a sort of almost intangible beauty to that sound,” said Jones Wright. “You also get everything that’s happening in the room, like someone tapping their foot or a car going by; you can sense it and hear it in the recording. It’s impossible to replicate that in any other way.”

Steyermark said they try to avoid recording in studios, in order to capture all types of sounds.

“Each [web short] we do is an opportunity to give an intimate portrait. The record has its own story on how it came into existence,” Steyermark said. With the success of the Web series project, he said, they are working on a feature length documentary on a road trip through the eastern United States, recoding musicians on the Presto along the way.

“We stopped by in Philadelphia and did a recording, stopped in DC to visit the Library of Congress, recorded a banjo symposium,” said Jones Wright. The film is only 25 percent completed, and the pair plan to head west to Chicago, Kentucky and on to California, with the goal of completing the film by next summer.

“I feel like we’re just getting started,” said Jones Wright.

(1) www.the78project.com

(2) http://www.kickstart...ocumentary-film

from: http://www.prosoundn...=69&EntryId=597

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The Steadicam — it can make things so easy, and so beautiful. It can be simply efficient, allowing you to bang out a smooth walk-and-talk without track. Or it can be a show piece, a shot whose virtuosity grabs the audiences’s attention, even if they are unaware of the level of skill and artistry involved. Writes Larry Wright at his Refocused Media blog about the long single takes most associated with the Steadicam:

More often than not, these sequences are accomplished using a Steadicam, which is essentially a balanced stabilizer that allows for smoother and more easily controlled handheld camera operation. Invented by Garrett Brown in the early 70?s, the steadicam shot — or “steadishot” — has become one of the most dynamic and exciting forms of cinematograpi and is one of the most engaging visual techniques in a filmmaker’s storytelling arsenal.

To illustrate, Wright has made a hypnotic video using clips from the top Steadicam shots of all time, as voted on Steadishots.org. Check it out above.


by Scott Macaulay
in Filmmaker Videos
on Mar 6, 2013



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Piano Phase is a piece of music written in 1967 by the minimalist composer Steve Reich for two pianos. It is his first attempt at applying his "phasing" technique, which he had previously used in the tape pieces It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966), to live performance.

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Surreal Photography by Oleg Oprisco. Who uses a Kiev 6C and Kiev 88 cameras with 90mm f/2.8, 180mm f/2.8, and 300mm f/4.0 by Meyer Optik Orestegor.

One article says he does use any digital manipulation, but what I believe they meant to say was the framing and props and such are not digitally placed. I find it hard to believe there is zero digital processing going on. Either way, stunning artistry!






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Street artist DS recently added a couple of paste-ups to a wall in London. It didn’t take too long before a graffiti removal guy removed the paste-ups. Shortly after that, DS was back with a paste up of the graffiti removal guy removing the graffiti. Gold!

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