stuff, I have been doing it

So I’m still rocking the sabbatical from gainful employment, but I have not been just sitting around, oh, no.

I have painted many walls in (mostly) pleasing colors. I have cleared out the home office. I have planted plants, tended plants, killed plants. I have freelanced and worked on websites and mowed the lawn.

But the most fun I have had is directing, shooting and editing videos.

I did a stop-motion cupcake film for my friends’ Indiegogo campaign, which was fun and frustrating and then fun again. I used chroma keying for the first time here, and learned a lot, and wish it had come out better, but I didn’t want to delay it any longer; I’d lost several days to melted cupcakes/frosting/accoutrements and didn’t want to take any longer than the project already had. The main thing I learned: It is hard to animate something with no limbs.

The other one I did was the 2nd official Reliquary video, for our song Shadows Cast.

This was epic amounts of fun.

The last one was also fun, but had many issues. I tried to overcome these, and think I mostly succeeded.

Incandescent bulbsThe main thing that made this video more fun to edit was the sheer amount of footage we shot: nearly four dozen clips of performance, non-performance and silliness. Compare to the six clips we shot for the first video, two of which we were unable to use, and you can see how this one was going to be miles better just on principle. And we had a bigger and better backdrop, which allowed for more movement and more diverse angles, and much better lighting — those awesome hanging incandescent bulbs, some wicked-bright LED light-strips, moonflowers, and LED spots. Some of the shots are still too dark, but they are an order of magnitude better than the ones for Blind.

I also worked in some transitions, and tried to incorporate subtle effects, like bumping the color or saturation up or down a bit; and a slight tilt-shift effect, mainly to bring Kara to prominence in the strobe-y shots (like the still, above). I think it worked pretty well.

It made me want to just rush right out and shoot another video, and in fact we tossed around a few ideas while we were shooting, so hopefully it won’t take a year to get another video done!

winding down

I am finally at the end of three or four weeks of craziness: daily practice for our show; playing the show (no pics of us have surfaced yet, but here is my set of Bella Morte shots); having my mom as a houseguest for a couple days on her way to a vacation with her sister; going camping; having my mom as a houseguest again, after her triumphant return from Durango, Canyon de Chelly and points north and east; and a fairly crazy few weeks at work that are still ongoing.

And in the midst of all this, we’re integrating the kittens that no one wanted to adopt (you’re missing out, seriously), keeping the dogs entertained, and pretending to clean the house occasionally.

I’m not gonna lie; I am wrecked.

I mean, our show was pretty good — I wasn’t too nervous, I didn’t screw up too badly, the sound was killer, and most of the other bands were great people and made with the serious rocking.

And camping was crazy good. I love when it gets down to the high 40s or low 50s, because I sleep so well in the cold. And the dogs had a blast, and our new gear was just exactly what we needed, without being heavy or expensive or fussy, and it was a delightful 2 1/2 days with some of my very favorite people, and I can’t wait to do it again as soon as we possibly can.

But despite these pockets of awesome … I am looking forward to a few days of nothing much to do, and long days in which to do it.

I edited a video!

Back in February, Reliquary had a photo shoot to update our ridiculously-outdated studio stills, and thought, hey, we’ll be in a photo studio, with a backdrop and lighting and stuff. We should do a video! And we did. And then I took the raw footage from three inexpensive HD cameras* and smooshed it together to create this :

I am kinda proud of this, which is my first ever try at non-linear editing, even though the end result is not exactly what I wanted it to be.

The important thing is that I learned a whole bunch, and I can’t wait to apply everything I learned to another video. I would, though, do a lot of stuff differently, especially in the shooting. We didn’t think we had the time to go back and re-shoot**, so I worked with what I had.

Things that will be better next time around:

  • Better lighting. So not kidding about this. I would much rather decrease the brightness in my editor than try to crank up levels. It did not work out well.
  • Better shot composition. I didn’t think anyone would object to the edges of the backdrop being in the shots, but someone did =) That meant I had to zoom in to get rid of the edges, which blew out the picture even more and resulted in some weird framing that I was powerless to correct.
  • More b-roll. We didn’t have a story for this video — more a theme, and a fairly vague one, at that — having gone with a fairly simple performance-based thing, but I still wish we’d shot a ton more extra footage. I could have used it. Speaking of themes …
  • A stronger theme. “… and then we can roll ourselves up in the tulle and lace we’ll be using as photo props!” It sounded simple and brilliant at the time, I assure you. Sadly, the best footage was the stuff we couldn’t use because of the aforementioned crappy framing, so you don’t get to see much of us enveloped by our funereal shrouds.
  • Better workflow. I understand the process so much better that it won’t take me two days just to set up the footage for editing, and the editing process itself will go much faster and much more smoothly.

I’ve been asked why we went the DIY/on-the-cheap route here (and why our label didn’t pay for it), to which I say: everything we can do ourselves is one less thing we have to wait for, or surrender control over, or pay for, up front or in the end — because every expense comes out first, before we start getting paid. Also, have you seen some of the crap videos out there? Yeah, this isn’t Oscar material, but I don’t think it sucks too hard, and the more I learn, the better the next ones will be.

Plus? It’s a whole lot of fun.

* In case you’re curious: a Flip Mino HD, a Kodak Playsport Zx3, and my new compact still camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 with the beautiful Leica glass. I wish I had five just like it.
** Our projected release date was in March, but that got pushed back by forces out of our control, so … I guess we could have re-shot, but … we didn’t. You’ll have to take it as you find it, and hope for better things in the future =)

the day we’ve been waiting for

I have so many things I want to blog about, but was prevented by an annoying hack of a bunch of my sites, including this one, so I’ll just start with the most awesome thing:

Path of Hours [click to embiggen]Reliquary’s 2nd album, Path of Hours, is finally available!

You guys, it has been four years since we recorded the songs for this, and it’s been a long, painful, agonizing process to get this album mixed and mastered and produced and sent to distributors — a process that is, at last, over. Our sophomore effort, as they say, is finally out there.

It’s on CDBaby right now, and will be on iTunes in the fullness of time, and of course, we’ll have copies at shows and stuff. If you haven’t seen a live show of ours in the last 4 years, it’ll all be new to you =)

I hope you’ll go take a listen, buy it if you like it, and tell your friends. And thanks for waiting.

snowball effect

Now that we’ve got our hands on the new CD (which will now release at the end of March, for real, we swear), I realize that I really want to display all our CDs on the wall. I’ve found some nice frames, and all that remains is to buy half a dozen or so and put them up.

But wait! I want to hang them on the wall outside the studio, and that wall is currently a hideous beige, as is the rest of the upstairs hall, and I really want to paint it all. We bought an airless sprayer so we could finish painting the 18-foot-high walls in the library and entry, and whatever else struck our fancy, but we haven’t actually used it yet.

I did buy the paint, however.

I guess what I really need to do is carve out some time and just fucking do it, but every damn weekend since about November has been filled with something, and the foreseeable future is no different.

And we also need to get some more photos taken, which means dread creation and installation, outfit selection, makeup, the whole nine yards. And we really need some proper videos, not just crappy live performance ones, which means all of the above, plus hours sitting in front of my computer futzing with video.

Just like possessions expanding to fit the available space, projects expand to fit the available time, plus more. ARGH.

so, we played a show

Reliquary [click to embiggen]

So Reliquary played a show this past Friday, in support of our favorite photographer’s first solo show. The sound was surprisingly good; we didn’t freeze to death despite playing on an outside stage in temperatures below 50°F; and a goodly number of people seemed to enjoy our set.

It was kind of a mess in every other regard.

Kara [click to embiggen]

We forgot a perfectly ridiculous number of things:

  • milk crates to stand the gear on;
  • power strips, to plug the gear in to;
  • Loki’s outfit;
  • to set up a merch table, despite having brought our Big Bag O’ Tshirts and Stickers and CDs* and Things;
  • Kara’s earphones for her monitor

I managed to put mascara on one eye’s worth of lashes, and somehow forgot to put mascara on the other eye.

Worst of all, I forgot an entire bassline, during the set. And it’s not like I forgot a complex one, no. I forgot the one for Dusk Falls, which has all of three notes. I did somehow manage not to sink through the stage in humiliation, which, I suppose, is a plus. Hopefully everyone thought there really wasn’t a bassline for that song, and didn’t smirk too badly at the stupidly-swaying bass player.

Loki & Suriel [click to embiggen]

So we closed on Love Songs, after which some people** screamed for encores. Nothing daunted, we played Lakme, after which I muted my pedal and started taking off my bass. Well, people*** were still screaming, so we’re all, “I guess we could do Winter World …” So we did. And I screwed up a couple times because my fingers were so cold I could barely hold the pick, to say nothing of fretting properly, but just kept going, because that’s how I roll, right? Then, after the last note died out, I turned to mute my processor, only to see that … I hadn’t un-muted it for Winter World.

I nudged Loki and pointed at my processor.

“You … you were muted the whole time?”



It was that sort of night.

Kara and fans [click to embiggen]

We hung out for a little while longer, chatting with friends, and then went home. In my case, it was because I’m still grieving and my nerves are a little raw. Loki was also worn out from insufficient sleep and carrying all our gear around four times in one night.

So we went home and played Deathspank and reflected that, on the whole, it could have been a lot worse.

* Not Path of Hours, though, because our copies arrived the next morning.
** Ok, it was The Other Tom, a friend.
*** Ditto.

excellent Reliquary show in May

We are thrilled to announce we’re playing a great show in May! We’ll be opening for Faith and the Muse on their : ankoku butoh : tour!

Faith and the Muse
with special guests Reliquary and Bella Lune
plus DJ Scary Lady Sarah
Thursday, May 13
@ Mardi Gras in Scottsdale
8040 E McDowell Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85257 [map]
8pm : doors
9ish: first band on
$15 / 21+

We’ll have some lovely flyers soon; let us know if you can give us a hand distributing them.

Also, we’ve got a lovely video trailer. Pass it around!

Hope to see you there!