The Equipment

Making the booth was a tough job, mostly because I couldn’t cut and saw at night in case I bothered the neighbours, and because I was working in a tight environment. Still, it got done and I’m happy with the result. The next thing I needed to do was make it more sound-boothy, and that started with the foam.

I purchased a couple of boxes of acoustic foam from eBay, got a tin of contact adhesive and a brush, and got to work, slopping on the glue and sticking on the foam. The ceiling wasn’t so bad, considering the glue held on pretty tightly after a few seconds of holding, and cutting out the foam to fit around the various hinges and nooks of the desk was just a matter of patience.

The door was tricky, I’ll admit, and I’m not 100% chuffed with the outcome. There is a gap at the bottom and to one side, and I’m sure this is letting a lot of sound leak. I’m considering making a lip on the floor for the door to butt against and pack that with some foam, but it’s good enough for now.

The only other section that’s causing bother is the brick wall, against which the booth rests. It’s lined with a concrete mixture, aged and crumbling, and the foam doesn’t want to stick to it. For this, I’ll need to make a trestle and feed it down the back. But I’m not convinced that’s leaking a lot of sound, so that’s on the backburner.

Now one thing I didn’t think of until AFTER it was done was lighting. Close the door and the room is very dark indeed. Oh dear. I don’t want to use fluoros, considering the hum they give out, and incandescent fittings are out on account of the insulation and foam. No probs, I’ve got a bank of LEDs I can mount, and that’s just what I did.

Finally, and importantly, I purchased a new microphone. I had a few cheapies lying about which I tried, but they were hissy, poppy and crackly. Kind of like rice-bubbles. No, I needed something better. Looking on the net, there’s the professional grade stuff, with preamps and compressors and big boxes that do stuff and funky connectors and… oh boy. There are also smaller solutions, powered by USB, that apparently are adequate.

I’m unable to afford the $1k price tag for a professional rig, so I’ve gone with the USB option and, I must say, I’m impressed. Not that it takes a lot to impress me, but after dealing with poop for a while, you get to appreciate quality. It’s a Rode NT-USB, found here at http://www.rode.com/microphones/nt-usb.

I added a book stand, attached power, through in some headphones and voila! Once completed, I took it for a test… no I didn’t. Joey took it for a test run.

Thanks, Joey, I was going to get around to testing it one day.

Lastly, and surprisingly, I threw out the chair that I had originally had in the booth. That’s that pink thing in the pic. It was creaking and groaning with every movement of my leg. I thought it would be comfortable, being padded, but no, the mic picks up every sound and that was making more noise than I was. I replaced it with a boring, but solid, steel stool to which I added a folded towel.

Grosvenor Lane Graphics

Making scenes to represent the various parts of Grosvenor Lane Ghost proved harder than I expected. I had, in my mind, a grand set of a horse and carriage, of a row of dilapidated houses, of looking up to see the young boy in the window. Yeah, right.

The problem is that I was reverting to the ‘tell’ rather than the ‘show’, that is, I was telling the story as a movie, scene by scene, rather than showing what the book was about. What I really needed to do was scrap the chapter by chapter approach, getting more into what the message of the book is about.

And what is it about? Science. The introduction of the Protagonist to the world of Paranormology. His first steps into a strange world. The Professor learning to take his own advice and judge a case only after gathering evidence.

With that in mind, I got cracking on making up a few key elements: The equipment, the larder and the laboratory.

The Equipment

Finding an image of an ‘old-school’ thermometer was tricky, since many were large, ungainly contraptions, nothing portable as the Professor would use. I had to be a bit creative, change the gradient to a positive / negative rather than absolute, and add in brass screws for calibration.

Equipment.jpg

I found many image for an electroscope. Diagrams. Blueprints. None were suitable. So, I had to construct one from a bell jar, a copper rod, a disc and copper sheeting. The vibrometer? Well, that’s actually a high temperature thermometer, but let’s just keep that between you and me, shall we?

I really wanted to get the equipment into the animation since, as the books go on about, any real paranormal investigation require documented, calibrated evidence, not just ‘feelings’ and the like. Plus, a big part of the Professor’s obsession is repeatability, such that his investigations might stand up to peer-review, so his equipment is all important.

The Larder

The Protagonist spends a fair bit of time in the larder, listening to the house, observing his equipment, getting thoroughly bored.

I don’t have a larder in my house. And I don’t have floorboard. And the garage is concrete. So getting a picture of a larder was kind of hard. No problem. Gimp to the rescue! Taking shots of various textures around the house, including an inverted one from underneath the house, cropping, trimming and poking, I was able to assemble a larder.

LarderComp

On the left is the larder in the Gimp stage, where I was having issues getting the shadows to play nice. You can see some of the icky-thicky lines around the centre. Meh. On the right is after I got to it using the Wacom Intuit drawing tablet. Applying heavy shadows was made a bazillion times easier. The results is a lot more like what I had in mind.

The Laboratory

Aw, geez. You wouldn’t think it would be too hard to find an old school lantern, light box, prism and holder, easel, and a sheet of paper and tuck them into a laboratory, would you? Well, it was a pain, let me say.

I blurred the background for a sense of depth, constructed the bench out of pieces of wood and scaffolding, found a decent signal lantern (and roughed it up a bit) and put it on top of a box. The result was uninspired. Why? Because everything was ‘different’, that’s why. The box was too clean, the lantern was too old, the paper was too shiny… you get the idea.Laboratory2.jpgWhat I needed to do was make everything a little bit ‘banged up’. Except the prism, since that needed to be an obvious ‘glassy’ element. Not only that, the whole thing was too damned bright. More shadows, more shine. Wacom to the rescue, once more.

Seriously, I’m loving this thing. Still getting the hang of it, of course, early days and all of that. But enough blabbering. I haven’t got the ‘old’ laboratory for comparison for you, my apologies. Let that be a lesson: Hard-drive space is cheap. Don’t delete stuff, move them into separate folders so you can see progressions.

I’m going to get going on some of the other images. Come back soon!Mini Jeztyr Logo