Sunday, December 30, 2018

Stomping in a Puddle of Pedals Part 4.

I animated the titles for this clip (wow! fancy!).

These are the pedals that I used to formulate the puddle of sound:

ProCo Rat 
Dr. Scientist BitQuest!
Drolo Stamme[n] (Version 1)
Montreal Assembly Count To 5 
Boss RE-20

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Stomping in a Puddle of Pedals Part 3.

I made this clip while practicing using my Boss RC-3 Loop Station.

The RC-3 can store up to 3 hours of audio but doesn't allow you to
change tempo/speed of a loop before "storing" it and doesn't allow you
to change the direction of the loop at all. So it isn't as fun as some other
looping pedals out there that have half-speed, quarter-speed abilities or
the ability to reverse the direction of the audio, record more and then
reverse all of that again.

But nevertheless, everything is more fun when you watch an Airedale Terrier
puppy playing with an ice cube. They pounce. They head-shake from giddy glee.
They bum-waggle. All these moves (and more!) are strictly adorable when
they are executed by a frisky Airedale Terrier puppy.

Signal chain:
Godin Session guitar
Barber Dual UnLimited
ProCo Rat 1993 Vintage Reissue
Boss RC-3
Boss FRV-1 
Lab Series L7 amplifier

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stomping in a Puddle of Pedals Parts 2.

Connecting a cluster of pedals and stomping on them is fun.
So many options. Change pedals. Change pedal order. Repeat.

Pedals used:
Basic Audio Fuzz Mutant
Drolo Stamme(n)
CooperFX Outward
Montreal Assembly Your & You're
Montreal Assembly Count To 5
Boss RE-20

For the clip I created some visuals with a prism and an "hourglass"
that consists of a translucent plastic tube filled with magenta goo.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stomping in a puddle of pedals

There is something you need to know. Listen up. This is important.

Stomping on pedals is as much fun as stomping in puddles on a rainy day.

But why do it? Isn't that just messy and sloppy and a total waste of time? Did you or did you not just read what I wrote above? It's fun. It's about the experience. It's about feel.

In the below puddle the pedals are:

Basic Audio Fuzz Mutant --> David Rolo Stamme[n] --> CooperFX Outward --> Montreal Assembly Your & You're --> Montreal Assembly Count To 5 --> Boss RE-20

Some random thoughts about these pedals:

John Lyons at Basic Audio actually used something that I wrote on a guitar forum to describe the particular character of the Fuzz Mutant (a fuzz based on the fuzz made for the Brazilian psych band Os Mutantes).

"I know the common way to describe OD and distortion and Fuzz is to talk about 'grit', but this mutated fuzz seems to have 'grip'. Sort of like the Mutant has the sticky hands of a gecko. As it grabs each note the pads of the gecko's finger goosh over the point of contact and almost instantly recoil in a soft and lushly verdant yet reptilian fashion.

Nothing scaly and dry about it. This is no Gila monster of fuzz. It seems to dwell in the foliage at the dark edges of a swampy river."

I stand by that description. This fuzz is about TEXTURE. It's also responsive to changes in your guitar's volume and tone knobs and reacts well when run into an overdrive or overdriven amp.

The Stamme[n] approaches TEXTURE from a different angle. The pedal loops short samples and then, depending upon the mode you are in, allows you to achieve smoothed out "frozen" loops sort of like the EHX Freeze, or more choppy, glitched out droney bits that can be manipulated with the large knob on the left of the pedal or by tapping the tap tempo switch or by using an expression pedal. I have an earlier version of the Stamme[n]. There have been some super exciting additions and tweaks to the new version of the Stamme[n]. I might have to try to upgrade to the new version somehow.

The Outward I have is also an early version. There are two main modes, one has sort of tremoloed-delay sounds and the time stretch mode allows you to record 1 second of audio and then stretch it forward, back-and-forward, or reverse. I'd also like to upgrade somehow to the new version of the Outward. I think the tweaks to the circuit make the new version even more versatile in a live setting.

The Your and You're is based on the Crash Sync circuit by John Hollis. It has more of an 8-bit synth type sound. The tone control allows for some great sweep. The one I have is a previous version. Apparently some tweaks have been made to the tone control and the way the expression pedal controls the fuzz.

The Count To 5 has some pitch shifted shenanigans and also some loop-ish modes where you can play the loop and then use the knobs and toggles to glitch it up in various ways. There are lots of secondary functions available by holding this and twisting that. So I won't get into all the complexities. It is a deep pedal and takes some experimentation before you start to figure it out and figure out how you want to play with the pedal and let it play with you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


David Rolo of DROLO effects is a fantastic pedal-maker from Belgium who offers small-run, quirky circuit, well made pedals. The Stamme[n] is a glitch/stutter pedal that captures and loops short slices of your sound and then allows you to tap in a tempo to alter that sound, or move the large knob, or plug in an expression pedal to control the same sweep as the large knob on the pedal.

Even though there is a new, more dynamic version of the pedal available, the version I have is quite fantastic and I wanted to create an animation to replicate visually the manner in which the Stamme[n] loops and manipulates the guitar input sonically.

To find out more about DROLO effects, check out their website!

The animation above was created by moving large pieces of driftwood on a stone beach on the shores of Lake Ontario and by making impressions in sand and by "drawing" on rocks by using water like it was ink. I made this in the summer, and so the lines drawn onto rock with water evaporate quickly, combining an element of time-lapse with the stop-motion animation.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

More From Form (finished version)

Here is the finished version of More From Form, which is the camera-less animation I made by scratching the emulsion and painting 16mm filmstrip.

To made the soundtrack on guitar using a Boss RE-20 Space Echo, the Montreal Assembly Count To Five (CT5) and a Boss RC-3 loop station.

The CT5 is a great loop and pitch shifting delay pedal made by Scott Monk of Montreal Assembly. You can read about the CT5 here.

To transfer the 16mm film to digital, I used Frame Discreet from Toronto. They did a great job. You can check out their website here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

More From Form by Sean Bokenkamp

Over the past two years or so I've been looking through my collection of rejected and unused 16mm footage. I held onto these 16mm odds and ends even though at the time I shot the footage I couldn't or didn't want to use them for the film projects for which they were originally intended. So rediscovering this "failed" footage led me to the idea of reclaiming it and repurposing it for something new.

Included among the rejected shots was a small stash of black film leader, which I was excited to find, since Kodak stopped making this type of 16mm black leader a few years ago. In college I had experimented a bit with "scratch animation"—which is where the image is created by scratching away the "emulsion" from black film leader with a needle or awl—but not in an in-depth or sustained way. So after unearthing this old footage I decided to spend a winter scratching and hand-painting the rejected footage and 16mm film leader.

Several years ago I made a film called From This Darkness. My original idea had been to create the titles by scratching the words into black leader, which seemed to be thematically appropriate. After viewing my first attempts at scratch animation on a film viewer I realized that I had accidentally written the word "FROM" upside down. That, plus the fact that I found it frustrating trying to write in such an incredibly small area within the 16mm film frame, lead me to utilize a different method to create the film's titles.

So when I unearthed this original, failed title, I started to think about how close the word "FROM" is to the word "FORM" and how the phrase "more from form" sounds so similar to "morph from form". I was also very taken with the idea of taking the "mistakes" and "failures" from rejected material and turning those mistakes into purposeful and intentional explorations of form.

There is always something slightly embarrassing about encountering the raw material from past failed projects. You often find it in a state of disarray—having been abandoned—and so it seems to reproach you for that betrayal. It's hard not to to see your own naked intentions lying submerged—frustrated and unrealized—in the material itself. The urge to erase or destroy every last trace of that failure is palpable. So instead I harnessed the urge to "erase" the images by covering them over with inks and then scratching away the ink and emulsion to create a new overlay of patterns.

I used a few different markers and inks to "paint" the frames of the rejected film footage. Since I had to allow the ink time to dry, I had to work in two- to three-foot sections of filmstrip. Which, when played back, create a nice organic rhythm as each intention leads to the next in similar segments of time.

After finishing the animation I knew that I wanted to get a digital transfer of the footage since I had utilized the full width of the filmstrip past the 16mm film frame that is typically used when projecting 16mm film. 

On the images above you can see how the digital transfer (from Frame Discreet in Toronto) captured the entire width of the frame—including the sprocket holes, which can be seen in each corner. I'm really pleased with the film transfer, and hope to be able to have more film transfers made at Frame Discreet for future animation projects.

When I first experimented with scratch animation years ago I found the diminutive scale of the 16mm film frame to be unwieldy and frustrating for image-creation. Recently, however, I've really been enjoying the limitations of the technique, since those limitations help focus my approach.

I haven't heard back yet from one of the film festivals that I've submitted More From Form to, and so I won't be able to post the finished version of the film here until I have.

More From Form screened at County Contemporary in September 2016 in Picton, Ontario and at the 38th Big Muddy Film Festival in February 2016.