By Trent Rentsch
Because you’ve been so good this year, hanging in there with some of the nonsense this column has delivered the past 12 months, I’ve decided to stuff your stocking to the brim. Nothing fancy, just some odds and ends, useful items, and… well, maybe just a LITTLE more nonsense.
Let’s take a look, shall we? Oh, what’s this on top? A book! Isn’t that nice? (Granted, you’ll have to either hunt your local library or fork out the cash at your local mega-bookseller, but for the sake of illusion let’s pretend I won the lottery, okay?) It’s called “Chuck Amuck,” the autobiography of Chuck Jones. On the outside chance you’ve never heard of him, Mr. Jones was the Creative genius behind darned near all of your favorite classic Warner Bros. cartoons. If the comic writing and timing of a Bugs Bunny or Road Runner feature has ever amazed you, wait until you hear what they had to go through to make it all happen. It’s a book filled with Creative lessons on every level, including keeping your Creative batteries charged and sanity intact in less than perfect management situations. As far as I can tell, Chuck never ran a mixing board or wrote a promo for a goofy morning show, but judging from his words he would’ve made a hell of a radio Producer, and he has much of value to share with any Creative. Enjoy the read!
What’s next? My goodness… a warped LP! Actually it’s a great way to make any audio sound like an old, warped LP (and this won’t cost you a cent). Go to www.izotope.com and download the plug-in called Vinyl. This was the first piece of software from the people who created the Ozone mastering plug-in, it’s always been free and it does its job VERY well. You can dial in scratches, dust, warpness, speed of the record, the decade it came out, mono or stereo, and more… extremely powerful tools to get the old sound you want. At the same time, it’s incredibly easy to use, and it’s tough to get a bad, ahh, bad result. The best part is that it’s available for either PC or Mac and in just about any flavor of plug-in you prefer, so we can all use it (imagine, a plug-in we can ALL work happily with!). While you’re at their site picking up your present, you may want to check out a few of their “for sale” plug-ins. I use an older version of Ozone and love it, and I’ve been told that both Trash and Spectron are solid noise-making devices. Great company, and I’m amazed they still offer such a quality product for free (really helped with my shopping budget, let me tell you!).
While we’re talking free, dig in that sock and see what’s next. Another website, and a whole bunch of new audio tools! www.amvst.com is where you’ll want to aim your browser. This site has enough free loops, samples, and VST software synths and drum machines to keep you busy till next Christmas! This is a gift for those of you who are busy making noise or even better, music, with your computer. You’ll need some base platform like Cubase, Sonar, FL Studio or the like to use most of them, but if you’re into such things, there are some powerful playthings here. Do you find programming a synthesizer a bit daunting? There are help files here, and a forum of people who use these everyday. Another developer who amazes me not just for the quality of their software, but because they offer most of it completely free. It’s worth throwing some money at the donationware pieces, to keep this site alive and healthy!
Well, lookee here, another book… no, two, taped together. “The Imagineering Way” and “The Imagineering Workout.” As you might have guessed from the titles, these are by the people who brought you all the Disney magic over the years. Many, many of them contributed to both books, often times in ways only a Creative might… doodles, notes scribbled on napkins (admit it, it’s not just the Sales Staff that does that), silly poems, fun. Because that’s what Creating should be, despite what you may have experienced. And if your experiences have been less than pleasant, you’ll discover ways in both books to improve your situation… or at least get a lot better, so you’re more prepared to move onward and upward. You are so welcome!! (now, take your credit card, sign on Amazon, and order both of them! You can probably find them used for under 4 bucks each.) Oh, and if the tips in these books take you all the way to a gig as an Imagineer, remember who set you on the path… and remember that yearly Disney World passes are the gift that keep on giving…
Wait a minute… wow, how did I cram so many books in that stocking? This is really a gem: “Secrets of Voice-Over Success” by Joan Baker. If you’ve ever considered going out on your own as a full-time voice talent (and you’d be lying to me if you said you haven’t thought about it), this is a must read. All the biggies are here, names you know like Don LaFontaine and Joe Cipriano, and many whose names you don’t know, but their voices sure ring a bell. We’re talking the best of the best, the ones who are at the top of the game, making the big, big bucks, and they all spill their stories, ready for you to soak up like a sponge. Reading this book isn’t going to turn you into an overnight voice-over success, but knowledge is power, and applying their tips will at least get you on the right path (well worth another trip to Amazon and 13 bucks).
There you go! I hope you like your presents and find them all useful. At the very least, who doesn’t like a few new toys to play with? What? There’s still something at the bottom of the stocking? Oh, I wouldn’t eat that, I think it’s leftover from last year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!