Tag Archives: job

Brad Ormand - early player front

9.26.2016 – Game Character Pre-Pro

A while ago, I created a low-poly game character and used it in a game engine demo to get jobs in software development in Austin and LA (in-game, pictured just below).  That helped my overall portfolio.  But, I thought, “One day I’m going to spend the resources do a real product with this“.  And, when that time came around to do it, I wanted to be ready.  I didn’t want to license a character or the props.  I decided to take the time back then to learn the discipline.

Fast forward to now… I’m not sure why I stopped doing it.  I miss it.  I want to get back to that work.  I have great memories of that time period in LA a few years ago.  I loved making models and texturing and animating them.  I mean, the whole 3D rendering pipeline has always fascinated me.  I build a 3D software wireframe/fill renderer for new platforms whenever I encounter them – browser, standalone, embedded display, in ActionScript, JS, and C/C++, etc. because it’s interesting.  I have a sincere passion for everything about 3D software that just hasn’t died out over time.  It’s persistent, and I kinda have to pay attention to it. 🙂  And now, I want to make a game of my own, all the way through to ship.  So, I decided to revamp that guy as my main character and move on with my former plans.

Brad Ormand - Agent 218

A   F U L L   S A I L   S T O R Y

Ever since I graduated from Full Sail (Recording Arts) for audio engineering stuff, I have had my eye on 3D animation and game design/dev.  I was friends with a lot of Game Design and Game Development program students there, and on the weekends and in the evenings and they showed me the stuff they were doing.  And, although I wanted to do audio stuff primarily, I really, really, looked up to the game creation discipline.  We learned audio concepts, big mixing consoles, and Pro Tools.  They learned game concepts, Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, etc. – all that kinda stuff.  And, that’s what I have been up to too, lately.  I’m learning Maya end-to-end, trying to get my polygon topology right and stuff like that.

Back in school, us audio guys were playing video games, too, between classes – it was almost a “club” between a certain group of us.  “How far did you get in that game this weekend?“,  “Did you get to the place where you have to…“, “What did you think about the gameplay?“, “Are you using 5.1 surround?“, etc, etc.  It added to my enthusiasm for games.  And, plus, we worked with the game department in the studio all the time – mixing music, making stems, doing foley, and processing voiceovers.  And, I did that in Hollywood, too.  I have kind of been hooked on game dev since back then – the whole, entire process is fascinating to me.

Brad Ormand - early player back

The newly revamped character (above).  I’ll have a few different kinds of hats he can wear.

A   H O L L Y W O O D   S T O R Y

Even when I moved to Hollywood, after a few years of audio/music studio stuff, I dropped out of that career track professionally (basically.  But, I continued to use the skills for my music releases and personal projects) and went back to school for Computer Engineering in LA.  But, my sole purpose, or let’s say, “ulterior motive”, was to go back to engineering school to learn math down solid so that I could develop games!  That’s for real.  I was pumped.  So, it’s been a long time coming for me to decide to build a full game and get it out.  I’m deciding to now.

I went through the entire math track in school from algebra to trigonometry to calculus to physics and vector math.  I’ve been enthused with it for the last 8 years since I got that education.  I have used the knowledge throughout the years in my career, developing lots of 2D games and puzzles and stuff in Flash for my employers.  And, now I have the chops to do a 3D game and not be scared to the enormity of it, with these pieces filled in.  And, like I said, the interest in it never died for me, so…  I gotta create a 3D game in 2016 and 2017.  🙂

B A C K   T O   T H E   G A M E 

So, I got back into Maya last month and got my old game demo character revamped.  I’m guessing to took me about 80 hours or so to get everything right, and it’s still not done – the textures are just in a prototype state still, and it requires rigging and animating.  I have a smoothed version here with a medium poly count, but it will be optimized for the game when I’m through.  When I was considering my options concerning models, the way I really felt was that I didn’t want to be “robbed” of the fun of the creation of the assets.  It would save me time to get them made elsewhere, but didn’t want to trade the experience.  So, I didn’t license or base it off anything, I just started from the first poly and went from there – not even a reference photo.  It’s similar to drawing human faces and carving wood faces like I have been doing, but virtually.  It’s a great tie-in art for me and I’m having fun.

As for the programming part, I have that part under control.  And, I’ve got the music and SFX part down, too.  So, as soon as I get all of the assets, textures, rigging, and animation ready, created and collected, I’m ready to do some programming to tie the “game part” together.

Brad Ormand - early player front

I am really loving creating the models though – tires, rocks, trees, walls, floors, the kits, taking texture photography, and animating the different takes.  My goal is to come out with a real, tested, quality game that can be truly enjoyed by people (and myself), with my own art style.  I will see this project through (while I’m also doing the Hexagon Craftworks stuff and the audio applications, too).  Luckily, I’m a good planner (almost to a fault), when I decide on something..  I can’t do a heavy bench press or fight fire or play basketball or manage teams that well, but I can do computer science as it relates to art pretty well.  My target for this game is XBox One.  Mobile versions might come through, too.  PC might come through.  I don’t know.  I’ll get a good game going first.  Mid-2017?

J U S T   F U L F I L L I N G,  T H O U G H

I’ll report more about the progress here in my project log and meanwhile continue iterating through my various projects.  I’m motivated.  I’m getting better on every front.  That’s all I can ask of myself – just incremental progress every day on my key skills.  Like some of my heroes : Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Gordon Moore, Bob Noyce, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Abrash, John von Neumann, Albert Einstein,  Steve Wozniak, James Maxwell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Feynman, Joseph Fourier, etc…  They kept going.  They had passion.  I have it too.  I do appreciate the position that they put themselves in – where they could use their disciplines for fulfillment as well – gotten regularly by busting through barriers, achieving milestones in the fields of study that they loved.  Their time and energy spent was worth it, I’m sure of it.  It’s satisfying to be engaged and actually make good progress in something – even if it’s hard and takes a long time.

Well, time to go.  I’ve been making a new garden.  A big one.  I’ll post about that next time.

 

Painting - Color Bubbles - Brad Ormand

05.23.2015 – Shake That Move & Painting

S O N G S

Well, I’m full into the new job and everything’s stable.  So, I started re-mixing a lot of my songs and painting and building a bit – whereas the last few weeks have cut into my personal and project life, since I really wanted to get the work stuff settled.  I added “Shake That Move” to my music playlist.  I can still cut it down a few minutes and remove some of the repetition, but the kicks and snares and vox are sounding really nice and all of the filters are leading into one another nicely.  I’m happy with how it’s going so far.  Days of work, addressing each little thing.

The opening kick sound is just what I have been trying to go for.  I mean, I am very, very happy with it!  And, the rest is getting more and more balanced every time I work on it.  And, of course, “Strike” and “Doing Fine”  have had a lot more work done to them.  …Just getting them all ready to be done and released…  I also worked on 3 of my “on deck” songs because I had ideas for them (not posted until “in beta”, so to speak).

Sometimes the best thing for assessing if something is working is a night’s sleep, some dreams, and fresh ears.  And, I can’t stress enough how much having a sub in the truck helps keep my kick and sub levels in check.  In the studio, I have a few 8’s, but there’s nothing like running the songs through real-world scenarios in between mix sessions.

Brad Ormand - Music Player

I have a zillion other ideas, and I can feel my workflow and creating ability, along with my production quality improve every time I do a song.  So, I’ll be happy once these are released and I can move on to some of the other ideas.

P A I N T I N G

So, I had an idea to do a whole bunch of circles on a gradient background like bubbles in a fizzy drink.  At first, I was inspired by a Sprite can that had a similar pattern that looked really beautiful.  I wanna see if I can do my spin on that kind of thing with acrylic on canvas.  Also, I did one really similar to that when I was in high school a long time ago on a concrete wall.  It came out cool.  And, I saw an art installation in Houston that had primary colors as different shaped square blocks around it, and that was striking.  I’m going to try something 🙂

Base Painting - Brad Ormand

Painting - Color Bubbles - Brad Ormand

I was going to run a prominent feature through the whole thing once I got the bubbles laid out.  There are like a thousand more bubbles to go, but one I get them in, I can start thinking about the finishing part.

A note about the feelings I’m getting lately…  I took a break from painting over the last few months, and realized that I was happier when I had the time to paint and was in the process of creating something artful.  And, now it’s confirmed – I feel more alive and happy if I have a painting or some creative visual art going at any point – I feel great just starting a piece and re-evaluating every so often to get it closer to my original vision.

I have other projects pending such as the Honeycomb Light and the Synth prototype, but feel like I have to spend some time painting to get my senses back and to get some creative juices flowing before I can effectively get back to those.  It’s about “catching” that wave of natural inspiration and motivation for me.  I can start making it “wavey” and then the right wave will come and in no time, and I’ll be surfing.  And, right now, I’m inspired by the painting and songs, and can feel the right stuff starting to stir up.

iOS Meal Tracker - Brad Ormand

05.04.2015 – Job, Meal Tracker & Wood stuff

I have been immersed in my new job, lately.  I spend a lot of time writing and debugging code all day long, but it’s inspiring.  It has also sparked a resurgence in me researching new software development methods on my own time.  Things change in this industry sooooo quickly!  And, I have to keep up.  I have been intrigued lately in several dev areas – mainly in graphics and animation.  Mostly graphical UI as related to application development, but I have been trying to borrow concepts from video game menus and sci-fi films.  So, most of my time lately, on and off the job, has been spent writing code.  I’m on kind of a rampage right now, as this is where my interests are leading me.

About a year ago, before I started this Project Log, I left behind a halfway-finished personal project that I was calling: “Meal Tracker”.  The name and domain have been pretty much taken in industry, so I’ll choose something different once I get a beta going.  I wrote the app for iOS in Objective-C and used SQLite and Cocoa.  It was a tool similar to MyFitnessPal for tracking calories and macros, but I had it tracking micronutrients, exercise, moods, and sleep, as well.  I have been revisiting that.  I went back and forth whether I wanted to dev it in JS and wrap it with Apache Cordova to deploy on multiple platforms, but ended up starting to port it over to Android separately with the Android SDK, because I had wanted to work with Java FX 2.0, since the newly revamped version looked so excellent.  But, that’s about where I stopped.

iOS Meal Tracker - Brad Ormand

And, now I want to develop in Swift, Apple’s new programming language.  I also want to try to build with Ember JS – we’ll see what happens, what I choose to go with.  It’ll be awesome either way – and a good chance to put together a good experimental UI.  And, I have a secure PHP backend written and nearly ready to go.  So, I’m picking this back up to try to see what I can do, here.  Right now, I’m just going to make my first commit and push to Bitbucket and make some progress toward a first version.

And, related, I am currently tracking my calories and macros in MyFitnessPal (as I work on getting back in the shape I was in last Spring 🙂  One of my goals is to run a 5k in 24 minutes by October…  the one I “ran” yesterday was almost twice that time!  (I walked some – ha)  I used to pop ’em out at about 30 a piece.  Got some work to do, but Anywayyys…. ). MyFitnessPal is great, actually, but I’m just wanting to go a little further as far as data accuracy and with more metrics to track.  I think it would be cool to have these extra non-nutrition-related features to get an overall picture of what’s affecting what in life – sleep, moods, weather, etc.  The extremely hard part with rolling my own app will be the nutrition database – especially getting restaurant menu items from everybody out on the planet to drop into the tracks..  Whew!  (not really feasible).

I have found many discrepancies in the data coming from MyFitnessPal, though – I think the users create them themselves and then share them.  The titles are sometimes all backwards and sometimes part of the nutrition data is missing or just wrong.  It’s ok, though.  It’s a great app, don’t get me wrong, but I was considering having something that was “official” for everything.  I was thinking of using the comprehensive USDA database and designing a way to provide estimates, but I am still doing research on it right now.  Also, I’m still investigating the licensing, too.  I just don’t know, yet, what’d it take to use…  But, there will always be the ability to create *user* profiles, so I’ll have a path there if I needed to somehow create the data myself.  It’ll take a few years.  But, I’d be willing.

W O O D W O R K I N G

Unsanded Wood Blocks

Woodworking has been on my mind a lot, recently.  As I get more and more involved with crafting wood items, the need for better, more precision tools is emerging.   I want to start adding to the equipment in my workshop.  I’ve got a router, a jigsaw, and a belt-sander, but I’d like to have a circular saw and a lathe one day.  And, maybe a lathe that could also double for cutting aluminum stock as well, I don’t know.  I could make my own PCB cages and standoffs, special bolts and nuts, etc.  That’d be fun.

I enjoy this type of work immensely.  And, if I could ever get to the point to where I had a stable production line of electronic modules for lighting coming out, I’d be all set up to create pretty much anything on a small scale.  But, also, I’d need the *time* to do it all, too.  Ha. (I still have to etch those SMD boards…)  I have my hands into a lot right now.  Still…  it’s about enjoying the process and exploring these new avenues as I enjoy them.  This project log helps me see where things change and what trends emerge, and helps me look back on what I was motivated by and when.

Honeycomb Light First Circuit BradOrmand

04.08.2015 – Synth, Job & Lights

New, in the sphere of my workings is a job that I will be starting at soon as a Sr. Software Engineer.  The recruiting process was long and pretty taxing due to just the management of all of the leads and people to stay in close contact with over the last few weeks.  My goal was to find a “match”, and that’s what I found.  The people are great, the job calls for what I have to offer, and it appeals to me as a developer, as well.  I’m ultra-excited about it!

SYNTH

In other news, I ordered some components to start building a real, accurate, and high-potential analog synth module!  I have the basics spec’d out and ready for a test setup.   So far, it’s going to feature the Analog Devices 654 Voltage-to-Frequency converter as the main oscillators and LFO, and Texas Instruments Active Filters throughout.  I just received them in today.

Synth Keys Idea - Brad Ormand

I posted my thoughts on an idea for a frequency mangler / modulator using digital logic (as an analog signal effect) a while back, and after I get them running, I’ll try to implement that idea with these as I go along.  It’ll produce a kind of ring-modulated effect.  So, there’s plenty to do before I get it up and running as I have to design circuits around them, but I imagine I’ll have something going pretty soon.

I hung out with friends and family over the Easter holiday, and I probed some mechanically-minded acquaintances’ minds about putting together a wooden keyboard (with my electronics inside) to hook into the synth module.  I got plenty of ideas.  I’m visualizing a few scenarios: One, as an all-in-one solution for peeps to just get and start playing as a standalone fun-toy, and two, as a separate controller for hooking into various modules.  I’ll keep that on the back burner, but for now, I just wanna build something that works and makes awesome sound.  The first synth will be on the breadboard, and the first keyboard will probably just be a crazy in-shop, spring-loaded array of chopped wood hitting tac switches.

LIGHTS

Honeycomb Light First Circuit BradOrmand

And, for the lights…  The thing I was waiting for was to write the software to be as fast as possible with the on-chip oscillator, and to see if it’d be fast enough for my scanning.  Well, I did that, and it’s not.  It falls short by at least a few MHz.  So, I have now, in-stock, an external oscillator that will push the MCU to 20MHz, and I’m waiting to see what kind of stability I can get with that.  As the experiments go forward, I’ll know if the solution I have already designed will work.  One more home-made PCB test, and I’ll have the answer.

Now that I have cleared the schedule a bit, I can begin to develop more projects.

 

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

02.04.2015 – Job, Painting & Songs

It has been a heavy week at work – plenty of ups and downs, and plus, there’s a lot of code to write, as well.  So, I’m a little consumed by it.  Thinking about it.  Planning for it.  Etc.  Even off-hours.

Yeah, it’s almost like painting and songwriting are like the perfect compliment to code development.  That’s what I do when dev levels get too high.  Then, when the “logic levels” get too low, I crave shifting bits and pushing pixels.  And, sometimes, the balance is half-and-half.  And, like I said before, mental noise from sources that I’m not inspired by dampens my ability for creativity, but it also dampens my programming ability.  Most of the enjoyment of my work comes from inspired times when I’m mostly peaceful.  However. there *are* other times when good work gets done, just..  I guess I don’t enjoy it as much.  I anticipate that enjoyment factor, and that motivates me.  It is what it is.  Just speaking freely.

So, I haven’t gone forward on my hex light hardware like I was going to do.  But, I did manage to mix another version of “Doing Fine”.  I think it’s the best version so far.  And, I’m in pre-production for an animated video for it.  Already drew out the prime character in my sketchbook.  As for the song, I put the best stuff right at the top, and made the chorus hit soon after.  Hard.  I’m excited about it.  My focus is on getting usable material for people – for my listeners, for film sync, for songwriting integrity, for replay’s sake, for emotional and memory recall – all of that.

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

And, having it “usable” means that it’s valued for some reason or another and listened to or used fairly frequently because of those attributes.  So, it’s kind of like how a businessman would add value to a product.  I do what I feel, yes.  But, I also have a vested interest in making the song “solid”, and not letting it go until it is that – mostly because then I don’t have to keep working and thinking and working on it… cuz, it would be… Done.  In the case of “Doing Fine”, I think the value added is the chopped, pitched vocals arranged in such a way that provides for a unique, pleasurable chorus, and the way that the lyrics and synths seem happy, then sad, then happy again, and so forth – kind of a pushing-pulling effect, over lyrics like “Drowning in my mind”  and then “But, I’m really doing fine”, etc.  There’s much more to it, but that’s all that I can write in words right now.

I have one more thing to do, though.  When I messed with the compression ratios on the drum sub and master bus, I made the mix breathe better, but somehow reduced the overall power of the kick.  So, damn, well – I’ll see what frequencies of it are hitting, by analysis, and which are not.  I’ll increase some choice freqs and give it power without damaging the mix, or having it pump and breathe.  It’s delicate at this point, cuz the mix is so right, I feel.  It’s the game.  It’s the balancing act.

So, I’m really glad about that mix.  I’m also pretty satisfied with how the new painting is going.  It’s not finished, of course – there are plenty of highlights and shadows and details to add, but, it’s on the way. 24 x 30.  A work in progress that I’ll keep around for whenever I get inspired to tap on it again.

Brad Ormand - Painting 34

The premise came from my moon painting and how the ridges create shadows.  And, also from some clouds in another classic painting I saw recently.  I want to try my hand with that kind of stuff – see how it goes.  I like clouds.  I look at them.  Stare at them.  Marvel in them.  Just, it seems like they’re a challenging thing to try to paint, but really fulfilling if I can get ’em okay.

Brad Ormand Synth OptoCoupler VCA

01.06.2015 – Synth VCA, Job & Songs

J O B

Today, I chased down a software bug at work for about 6 hours.  For real.  Sometimes, it’s like that.  But, yeah – it ended up being because of a leftover overridden function in one of the data models in the client code.  I can’t go into details because it’s work/job stuff, but that function was empty and did nothing and got called, and thus, messed up the whole call stack, but threw no error.  Urrgh!

Haha.  But, I followed the stack trace deep into the libraries – Underscore, Backbone, and Marionette to find what was happening, but it led me to my own code in the end (yeah).  So, it was a roundabout way of getting to the bottom of it, but effective, since it led to the discovery of the override.  I mention it because I feel a good sense of accomplishment from finding and fixing it.  It was a fun journey, looking back on it.  But hours ago, I was starting to get frustrated a bit.  I could see my mind blaming the libraries, and then questioning using them at all, and then mentally commenting on the whole library stack decision, etc.  But now, I don’t really think any of that.  It was just when I was deep in finding the solution.  But, at least I just observed my mind instead of reacting.  And, that’s the lesson I took away from this:  If you just persist through the difficulties, technical or emotional, that come up while doing something that you really want to learn or have a deep desire to be proficient at, there are rewards waiting, and actually, joy at the end of it.

I did a similar thing with the circuit design program Eagle the other day.  I couldn’t find an part that fit my bill, and I had to make my own LBR spec.  I hadn’t done that before.  And, I just got kind of angry that there were no default quick keys for Mac.  There actually are, but they aren’t the standard CMD-modifier keys, instead there are F keys and assignable quick keys.  I was sensitive to that for a moment, overlooking the amazing tool that Eagle is.  Ah, but I quickly overcame the frustration once I learned the steps, and I love Eagle more than ever after having gone through that process.  Haha, I’m noticing that there’s an element of struggle involved to get used to something before you can really appreciate it.  I did the same thing 10 years ago when trying to get CSS down.  I remember massive frustration, especially with IE 6 vs Safari vs FireFox (Chrome hadn’t been invented yet). But, I love every bit of styling stuff up now.

It’s interesting how I was compelled to write about this “failure” and how sometimes I don’t when I achieve a massive success. I guess it’s like the story of when you broke your arm or took a ripper out on the climbing wall.  Ha.  Just, there’s something about going through it that adds something meaningful to life.

S Y N T H

Anyway, there’s the job story of the day.  But, I also made progress with my synth modules in the last few days.  I built an opto-coupled, bipolar-driven voltage controlled amplifier for my VCO.  It’s not the first one I have built, but, it’s the best one so far 😉  I built one for a compressor in about 2002 like this, but it was pretty shoddy and I was still learning.  I’m much better at the layout and design these days.  So, in addition to it being functionally working, it also looks super cool while it’s operating!  By opto-coupler, I mean the input voltage is controlled via a light/LED that gets sensed by a resistor that’s light-sensitive.  I don’t need it to be fast, and I’d rather take the character of the electronics, in fact.  Also, I have it uncovered to show the light now (it’s beautiful), but it’ll be sealed in production.  I have a gain reduction LED tapping off of it for the UI anyway.  The light is bright at -∞ dB, and off at nominal.

Brad Ormand Synth OptoCoupler VCA

I implemented a filter in between, but haven’t finished it.  This is just me picking away at the synth build as I get spare time.  Like I said in a previous post, it’s priority has been suspended until March or so while I work on the lights and the songs.  But, I can see it coming together, and it sounds really great!  Oh, I can’t wait to do something with it!

For the synth UI, I defined a few more attributes as I was going through this process.  Actually, I had a dream about effect circuits and that led me to more ideas.  (A lot of my ideas come from the dreamworld 🙂 ).  For instance, I have a good idea for a modulator/envelope using a similar opto-coupler, but with a big cap charging up for a log delay.  Then, I’m thinking about splitting the output, taking one side to a distortion circuit or similar and then to the inverting input of an op-amp, and the other split to the non-inverting, and let that deal with the mess coming in, trying to balance them.  Then mix it back in.  I imagine it’d be kind of like an inverse distortion or weird levelor if I got the signal levels right.  Those are on the block for experimentation.

S O N G S

For “Kitchen”, I added some sub bass to the chorus to fill it out, and it sounds so good.  I’m leaving it.  The kick and sub work well together, creating a good stiff lock for the chorus, while the verse still has a pretty low and round kick sound to it, a bit louder, and with a bit of a knock on it.  I think the difference is a pretty nice contrast.

And, I also added that octave sub to parts in “Lookin’ For”.  I went a bit crazy and just created a whole new bassline for it to vibe with.  It goes with, but is alternative to, the synth bassline and lead already present.  All of it comes from a regular sine signal generator. Ha.  But, I added some comp and a bit of light fuzz to it.  Anyway, it’s really coming along.  I tested the levels today, and it’s right up there with commercial tracks.  Good balance, “feel-able” sub, and pretty present, as well.  It’s almost ready for packaging 😉 .

For both of the sig gen parts, I had to re-mix after testing because the 100Hz range was overpowering the 40Hz range, so I put a lo-pass shelf in the middle at about 80 and knee-d down until 100 was about 3 dB down, leaving the low sub at the same level after gain compensation.

Brad Ormand Site - Home

12.10.2014 – Job & Site

I guess I’m gonna have to talk about this…  I usually like to talk about my personal projects on this site, but I think this relates.  It’s just that I’m experiencing kind of a heavy load from my job.  It’s not *too* much work, per se.  It’s just that I have it on my mind a lot – things I have to do with the projects there, things I’d do differently, and things I think that have been misunderstood and need clarification, and what’s the best way to communicate it.  It’s all part of a job, I guess.

However, that being the case, it’s kind of taking mental energy away from my projects in my off time, so I’m struggling to get settled enough to dive into some of the things waiting for me at my shop at home.  And, that directly relates to my projects.

So, logging this here is like another citing of what influences a smooth operation at my shop.  Having stuff on the mind that’s not worked out elsewhere comes with me to my projects.  I had a good experience yesterday calming my mind.  I went out in nature and walked around and sat in the sun for a good while just observing birds and the wind and the clouds, and that helps clear things up.  I think lots of times my mind just needs that space and resolves itself once it’s given.  So, I’ll try that again when I feel this way in the future.  I’ll keep that in mind.

Other than that, I’m organizing the assets for the final page of the site build.  I have a demo space on the www while I check it in various browsers, test the gadgetry, and adjust sizes.  I imagine it’ll be a few more days and the site will be ready to go.  It’s looking really hype.  I like the comfortable feeling while browsing through it.  And, I also like that it represents me well.  I mean, it’s just straight the truth of my life and what I care about.  And, that’s the best way it could be.

Brad Ormand Site - Home

 

Brad Ormand - Dog Portrait (initial sketch) of Mickey

12.05.2014 – Host, Job & Painting

Well, I’m much better today after recovering from the Thanksgiving bug.  Whew!  Still have a little bit of a sniffle, but I’m pretty much back to normal.  I have been doing work for my job pretty much every day except that one hardcore sickday, but I’ve been taking it a little slow all week.  Today, things needed to be wrapped up and since I was doing better, I have been busy at work all day with stuff – helping to get ready for a new phase of research and development over there.

On my end, I got a temp site up and running with the host, I repaired a chair, and I did more drawing and painting the last few days while I wasn’t feeling well, during the high points.

I remember I broke this chair (I guess it’s really kind of a stool) when I stood on it to change a light bulb a while a go.  It was a piece of the top seat that cracked off – not the legs or anything.  I have been using it cracked for a while now, until, ironically…  I needed to change another light bulb yesterday and reached for my stool, and yup – that’s what spurred me on to fix it.

Fixing a broken stool - Brad Ormand

So, I reinforced the underside with two steel plates and attached the original steel plate on top.  I fixed it on my rugged pool table – I use it as a workbench sometimes, yeah.  Oh well.  I want to keep this particular one, since my Mom gave it to me when I left for college a long time ago, out of state.  It has a huge carving of Texas in the wood, where I’m from.  I love this thing.  And, I love living in Texas, so it’s kind of a symbol of pride for me…  Later, I think I’ll take it apart and try to “heal” the crack a little better or glue it, but for now, it’s stable, and I got the bulb changed. 🙂

Texas Stool

And, I ended up drawing a dog by hand on a small canvas that I am considering using as a template to paint over.  It was a quick sketch lasting a few minutes, and I drew it a little far down on the canvas (can’t really see it here), so I’m not sure where I’ll go with it yet.  I might erase it and draw it higher up, but I was liking how it came out so far.

Brad Ormand - Dog Portrait (initial sketch) of Mickey

Later on, I want to come up with a dog portrait that I can reproduce on many different canvas pieces about this size.  I’m going to do the same thing to that that I am doing with my moon painting.   I’m going to light ’em up with LEDs!  That’s right.  I was thinking about doing the collar and maybe some stars or something and then give them as gifts or sell them.  Also, I’d like to do some Halloween ones like Jack-O-Lanterns and skulls.  And, of course, if it goes well, I want to do musical instruments, too.

And, as well, I did some experimental stuff where I painted, let it dry halfway and etched thin lines with the end of one of the LED leads.  Not my best work, but it was a fun experiment.

Brad Ormand - Paint Etching Experiment

Brad Ormand Recording Tambourine

11.08.2014 – Synth Solo & Recording

Man, I wrote a really great synth solo for “Kitchen” yesterday.  It rocks hard.  I’ll stand by that.  I really think it’s gold star shit.  It’s interesting, soulful, and intelligent.  It’s just in the right place, too.  I actually don’t know how I did it.  I just set my mind to it and started writing with the intention of getting something useable, and boom, out came that.  I’m happy.

So, I’m really happy about that.  And, I think the kick/bass combo is finally on the level of finished.  All I have to do is check it, test it, and sleep on it a few times and love it.  When I love it, that’s when it’s done.  I put care into this stuff and try to make my own dreams come true, and I’m not going to sell myself short and just scratch something together over a few days and publish it out.  Things turn into other things over time – they morph, they mature, they solidify.  That’s why I’m glad I’m not in a rush.  This version has that maturity written all over it.  I’m happy about it.

Brad Ormand - Pro Tools Shot

And, it’s the same thing with “Fine”.  It just keeps getting better and better.  I was playing pool listening to it and thought, ya know, that chorus could sure use a hi-hat or shaker or tambourine…  So, I tested a few instruments out from my percussion bin of various bells, shakers, tambs, and noise-makers.  The brass tambourine was the ticket.  I set up the gear and overdubbed it in.  Makes a huge difference – it really distinguishes it from the pre-chorus, now.

Brad Ormand Recording Tambourine

I had yet another deadline to reach yesterday for work and thus I couldn’t get started with much this week.  Mainly, it’s just been crafting the WP theme up and mixing these songs.  The theme is looking awesome.  I’m in CSS and JavaScript monster mode, since for work, I have had to spend nearly 8 hours a day putting together a pixel-perfect site layout, and send data back and forth from the server, and show/hide different parts of the UI based on user actions.

So, it really keeps me “in the groove”, working with site stuff in both places – toggling back in the morning.  It’s like staying warmed up.

Brad Ormand - Pro Tools Shot

11.05.2014 – ST7565R, Philosophy & Songs

It’s another heavy work week for me folks.  Some uh that early rising stuff again.  But, oh well – keeps me keen.  And, more and more tasks pile up, but that’s ok…  That’s what work *is*.

Also, a quick mention while I’m thinking about it…  I don’t let myself get *too* busy at any one time.  I’m never rushed or have too many things to do – at least in my personal projects / personal life.  It’s like I protect my peace of mind, firstly.  I seem to resist melodrama well.  I’m pretty chill all day.  It might seem like I do a lot, and I do, but it’s all “fun” for me and about the enjoyment of life.  Sometimes, there are mistakes or requests at work that press me pretty hard, but I’m talking about my personal projects.  I’m observing this…

It’s like I have an actively monitored “pressure sensor” in my head.  I can sense when I’m getting in the red, and discover why I feel this way and then focus on bringing the pressure back down – which might be actually doing some work, taking care of some things, talking with people, or backing off of aggressive goals.  I have an operating region where I work best, I have noticed, and staying there is critical to maintaining my “big picture view” and my creativity.

So, yeah, I kind of have a low threshold for getting too stressed.  I have worked stressed for years in my youth, but it’s like I found out that I just don’t have to do it anymore.  And, also because my strength is in letting my interest and creativity flow naturally, and that’s the fuel for the engine.  Other people have other strengths, and I have my weaknesses (believe me 🙂 ), and everybody’s different.  I mean, I don’t go around creating corporations or winning the Olympics or leading men into battle – haha.  Some other method works for those skills, I imagine.   But, it’s just something I have noticed since keeping track of projects – I have resonance when I am allowed to flow, and it’s dampened in proportion to the demand, and unusable beyond some threshold.

I have been writing in the blog directly, recently. Today, I’m remote and have some thoughts, so, I’ll write in Notes on my iPhone and transfer / edit later. My blog is just hosted locally now so there’s no way to use the internet with the WordPress app, etc, but I might consider that for later. I like Notes, anyway..

Mainly, I’m thinking about the display animation and music. First off, I’m having a large amount of fun doing them, and I have more ideas like I mentioned in a previous post. But, I am also craving a system integration and a controller, such as that capacitive touch display that I have in my lab (waiting for me lol). But, I feel like I just want to do one thing at a time. I can port those graphics and animations over easily. Basically, I can just finish the animations I wanna do with the SSD1306 and then maybe make a Time Clock UI with that display later.  I might make room on the breadboard for the ST7565R display and while I’m working on that, I’ll decide on an installation approach for the SSD. I don’t know. Just thoughts for now, but that seems to be the direction for now.

Ok, and I got a list of song tweaks, too:

– “Fine”: raise kick freq overall 1db. This is almost finished. Raise ostinato bell parts about 2db to cut through a bit, or find where they fit in more, freq-wise.

– “Kitchen”: write and record that guitar solo/ synth solo for the pre-bridge. Clean up digital noise on outro. Raise kick attack for all choruses. Experiment. Align square wave synth to position point on up beats in chorus to talking track.

– “Strike”: Kick is better, but still needs more attack and about 150hz.

– “Looking”: Bump 50 at top chorus chords – must match it’s resolution to second chord in volume. More tension! Electrocution, then release. Also, consider making top chorus more interesting with chopped talking bits.

– “Crush”: Cut 3k on main vox in chorus. More rough-sounding, not brittle. Second chorus sounds better than first, Why?? And bump the entire kick up 1db (again).

– “Action”: “Lights, camera, action” vocals need higher, vocoded accompaniment. They seem lonely 🙂 Increase kick attack at 2k-ish. The fundamental is plenty loud and fine.

– “Dive”: Bump kick at about 90Hz. Investigate TB-303 parts to be more prominent?? Chorus melody with more activity behind it? Consider.

Better get started 🙂

 

Destiny - In-game Box animation

10.31.2014 – Job, Destiny & Browsers

I spent the entire night, well, until about 2am, finishing up the demo site for work. I’m happy, they’re happy. Feels good to have the content and framework done. Now, it’s just testing… I had an atrocious encounter with IE going into compatibility mode, when on an intranet  *after* I delivered it – dammit. Scrambled the site real good then spit it out – IE7-style.  Ugh. Halloween scare. Ha. It didn’t like addEventListener, to start with, and of course classList won’t work, and forget about querySelectorAll … So, had to explicitly disable compatibility mode with that meta tag. For real, though, ugh – why is that mode still around??? But, I fixed that up. It displayed nicely. And, it’s back to business.

I feel a high sense of accomplishment and kind of a pride feeling today, because I made myself complete the tasks required to finish the project on time, despite my tendency to float over to my other projects. Working on work stuff after job hours never bothered me, as long as it’s not too frequent.  And, it was of my own volition.  And, well, like I said, it feels good to have made the deadline. All these new *good* feelings, compared to the anxiety accompanying the lead up to the finish made it worth it, though, I learned – as long as you can stay on track, throughout. That’s the main takeaway for me, I think.  If you have stuff to do, just do it, like Nike.  And, it’s part of the reason I write in this log – so that I can look back on my experiences and learn (and re-learn lol) lessons like this. To find the harmony and balance in development so that it can be as enjoyable as possible. 🙂  And, that’s super-important, in my opinion, because it’s what allows the max amount of creativity to surface.

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And, this is a pic I took of Destiny, in-game.  This made me think of the SSD1306 and my next animation.  It’s got that blue, OLED flavor-ade to it.  haha.  I figure the next one I’ll do will be something like this with stroke-squares/no fill.  I’d like to have them “drawing” themselves, but that’ll take more time.  I’ll do it if my initial idea pans out.  But, I’ll definitely have them floating about, bouncing off of the side or running patterns.

I can turn pixels off and on with this device, but not with 50% opacity or the like, so, I’ll not be able to do the glow or the background / mid layers, but I can totally do something like this – maybe with 3 different sizes with a few static and a few animating about.  I’ll just start one day and see how it goes.  Great inspiration!

Brad Ormand Early Moon Painting Work-Up

10.30.2014 – Songs, Job & Moon Painting

I mixed down “Fine” again this morning before going to work. I added the beater side kick track back in. The kick is full and plenty. It might just work as-is, really. “Strike” is sounding excellent since I boosted the metal guitar synth around 2k – it’s almost surreal when the chorus hits. I think it’s a good balance and I hesitate to do any more work to it at all.

On the job front, I am nearing the end of my site project. Honestly, I have been a little anxious about it. I procrastinated some, just due to the sheer amount of work I had to do in order to get it right, plus animation. It had been up and down, my emotional level – nothing severe, just like a feeling of “this has to get done soon” feeling. The opposite of what I feel with my personal projects, which have no deadlines and no pressure (that’s becoming a theme). But, anyway, I’ll say this though: I love the people I am working with and am fortunate to be working in this field at this company doing what I do.

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I painted up a storm last night. My clothes and hands got all “painty” and I even got some paint on the pool table felt. Oh well… It’s a comfortable place to paint, and it has good lighting. Lol.. But, yeah, I originally intended a moonscape, and mixed the color to start that, however once I began, I started to get more and more ideas, and well, I modified my direction vector a bit. It’s a little more: abstract, with natural aspects to it 🙂  I think I’ll try to rough it up with some kind of texture next, and I’m still thinking abut those ridges, too. It’ll take days and days to finally finish it, but it’s going in a pretty good direction! Especially displayed under overhead lighting.

Brad Ormand Painting Collection October 2014

10.27.2014 – Moon Painting & Job

I painted a bit last night. I think this is the first time I have mentioned painting in the blog, but yeah – these painting projects are part of my project set, too. I think I have about 20 or 25 paintings so far…

IMG_2222

I molded some modeling paste on top of a canvas for this new one – all white, as I’m trying to get a 3D look to the surface before I start to paint colors. This is a new thing for me – the 3D thing. But, I’m initially going for craters on a moon. Desaturated blues and greens with greys all in there, and then, I’m going to highlight with neon green – some of which will come from LEDs that I embed in the modeling paste with lightpipe. This is my first attempt at this, so who knows how it will come out, where I’m going to store the batteries, where I’m going to run the wires, etc. But, yeah, that’s the spirit of how I do things, I guess – I build and gain experience (and make mistakes) in implementations and I get better and better technique as I go on.

So in the end, I’d like to have a protruding, rocky landscape with cracks and crevices that reveal green light. (Or now that I think about it, selectable color 🙂 Hmmm ). Something completely natural, such as bland rock, mixed with something a bit supernatural such as that eerie green light. Is it coincidental that Halloween is around the corner? Probably not – I feel the Halloween / Fall flavor right now.

In other newwws… Just had a meeting at my job about the site. We are all on track and everybody is happy with the result so far. Whew. And, the animation got some good comments. Just a few more steps and it will be solidified.. But, of course those steps are done by a few more work days of code-writing :). Here we go.

Brad Ormand AudioTool Case Construction on Lab Bench

10.23.2014 – Job & Audio Tool

More progress in the site for work – still making it happen. It’s looking good. I do have to take advantage of every hour, though… Or, I’ll be working over the weekend. Had a meeting with the UX and Design team, and it was fantastic – love that world, so detailed about every move the user could make. I admire the knowledge in that arena. I build their ideas in code and love to spend my time implementing this stuff, but one day I’d like to have more design / color / typography / UX knowledge.

And, in other news… I built the front panel of my Audio Tool (I have just been calling it the “Audio Tool”). I measured and marked the interface, drilled the holes, installed the controls, and now all that’s left is to run the wires – pretty tight in there. I changed my output meter to be a 10-segment LED bar instead of using 8 separate LEDs like before. Umm. Hope it works because I already cut the big hole for it 🙂

IMG_2563

I wired up the LM3915 driver for it on a separate PCB and mounted it to the cover. Now, the final test begins. I have tested this circuit during the design phase on the breadboard a million times. I tested it once I fabbed and assembled the PCB, and it was fine, and now just gotta hope that the final product and case design didn’t screw anything up . If it did, I’ll fix it, but I’m hoping to crank it over tonight.  It’s lookin’ pretty hot.  lol

IMG_2569

 

Brad Ormand's Tektronix 2235 Oscilloscope

10.22.2014 – Job, Synth & Mac Pro

I’m split two ways. Haha – between work projects and my own. It has always been that way, I guess. I seemed to have lost a bit of steam in my creativity and enjoyment factor. I have to put the deadline for work first – because it’s my bread and butter (literally), and they count on me to do this in several ways, and I don’t mind doing it.  I like my job. It’s a wonderful project and I’m blessed with the opportunity to do it, but the fear lies in not being able to get it all done in time.  However, I met with some project leads and got a few of my questions clarified, so I feel waaay better – The project is still on track!

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 8.02.20 PM

This morning, I had thoughts of building my synth package up, again. I might refine it to be more of a Frequency Generator with different waveform options as opposed to a musical instrument (yet). I need one for my lab bench anyway. I want to build a prototype digital multi-waveform oscillator machine from scratch to get the reps in – to learn their principles well. I’ll build that, program the UI, make the boards, set the case, and start using it to run clean signals through my analog filter experiments, and, also cuz I wanna use my Tek 2235 2-channel Oscilloscope to measure the input and output of each wave post- and pre- filters.  Tek analog is a beautiful blue-green-juicy candy cane blast to use – more than any other oscar I have worked with – nothing looks cooler lol..

Plus, it would be waaay cooler to have a freqGen that I built personally than to have a store-bought one. I’ll make sure it’s accurate. And then… Based off of what I learn from that experience, seeing it all the way through, touchscreen menus and all, I will build a musical multi-voice synth, and even more synths after that, including a digitally-controlled analog synth – I have mentioned before that that’s what I want to be capable of.
Yet, I can’t dump myself into it now. Gotta get that site for work built first. Enough writing. Here we go 🙂

A few hours later… I have a really cool-looking set of animated panels, in and out that I think will Wow the audience (that work is presenting it to) and gain interest for the product – nice, smooth Quadratic eases and the panels are all functional, as well. Screen size detection for centering elements, a nav to switch states in-page, non-refresh-style. Loving it! It’s coming along. I don’t think I can show the screenshots or video of it since it’s proprietary / under NDA, but you can see my style of web UI from this and my other public sites.

K just ordered the DDR2 FB-DIMM RAM for my Pro Tools Mac Pro from New Egg – after returning the generic DDR2 RAM that I mistakenly purchased the other day. Ugh – glad that’s done. Now… As soon as I get that RAM installed (and it works), I’ll be getting back to those sub and kick parts for “Fine” and “Kitchen”. It’s weird having that system out of service right now. I miss it. 🙂

Mac Pro 2008 RAM Slots

10.21.2014 – Job, Mac Pro & Destiny

Today, I spent all of my energy thinking on and developing the site for work. The mock looks so amazing, and I really want to do it justice for the users. It’s really a good opportunity to just do what I do best (compared with other back-end work I was doing). I’m a front-end UI engineer by interest and choice and I want to do that exclusively, and well, here’s more of it. Good thing. I’m working with new international team members this time. We have only just got past introductions, but it’s such a good situation.  Be done next week with this initial phase – with hopefully, a great-feeling and -looking UI!

And… Yeah, I stopped to get more DDR2 RAM on the way home from work, unprepared, last minute… And, yup – I picked up the wrong kind 🙁 oh well – I’ll get it settled tomorrow. But, I was really looking forward to working on some music tonight. When the RAM situation is taken care of, I’ll resume. Lot’s of good ideas for several songs lately.

Man, I’m gonna tell ya… I don’t enjoy as much playing the Crucible battles or the multiplayer stuff in Destiny – just doesn’t add up, story-wise.  Haha – the gameplay and concepts are greAt – don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to feel like I was a crusader on a mission, instead of a human being playing an avatar knowingly playing another avatar that has another human attached to it “pretending” to play a storyline.

Haha – I’m being kind of facetious, but yeah – it seems to bust the illusion of the story a bit.  I like to be on a story mission like in Dead Space or GoW or Far Cry, really, instead. Plus, I have never really been a good multiplayer person, even though I have some really good memories playing with other players… However, I do like the gameplay and the open, community environment, and I love the shit out of Bungie.

But, regardless… on to Venus, we go, haha. Gotta blow off some steam, being entertained for a bit – plus, I get to examine game art and polygons and textures and fantastic UI – this is my world, too – it inspires me – for UI, for music, for SFX, for algorithms, for life.

Old Mac Pro 2008 FB-DIMM DDR2 RAM

10.20.2014 – Mac Pro, Job & Analog Filters

Oops… My Mac Pro failed to boot up today as one of the RAM modules got corrupted. First time I have had to deal with that! Actually, I’m glad that was *all* it was! But, a few hours of pulling RAM sticks and trading DIMM slots eventually got it back to passing the POST. Now, I need more RAM! I doubt my sessions in Pro Tools will operate, now. Time for a few more Gigs.

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And, actually, I’m feeling a bit stressed with my project at work. There’s just a lot of code to write before Friday. And, I have to have some semblance of a cross-browser solution with animation intact by Monday. I committed, I’ll deliver – I’m just working on the game plan as I move forward.
Today, after work, I was still in that kind of frenzied mindset. But, I finally settled in to the analog filter design book a bit – did some calculations, found some better techniques to choose capacitor and inductor values, solidified my Bessel and Butterworth knowledge, and tried to translate all that I learned into applying to Audio frequencies.. It’s not that I’m not interested in RF, it’s just that I don’t have an application right now, and it’s not my primary discipline.  And, it’s quite complex.  But, all-in-all, I can certainly see how the higher frequency signal you get, the crazier to control the signal gets! And, the sections on PCB trace filters was pretty mind-blowing for high frequency – how they can mold the traces into patterns to try to maintain signal integrity. Niice.

Brad Ormand - Audio Meter

10.09.2014 – Job, SSD1306 & Songs

New mixes! Ok, just listened back – instructions are: (all kick-related, at this time): for “Fine”, increase resonance of kick 2db at about 50hz. For “Kitchen”, increase the punch/knock at about 150Hz about 2db, and for “Strike”, turn down the attack at about 1kHz. Super-small tweaks, incremental, listen back and go from there. Bottom line: they all sound better than ever! Now, it’s just those production touches…

In other news, I’m really wanting to write that driver for that device I spoke about yesterday – the 32×16… However, I will first write the driver for the Solomon SSD1306 OLED display using SPI, instead. It’s monochrome, but it’s so sleek and the pixels are very tight! I’ll sink my teeth into that for a few weeks, wrap a good driver and produce my animations (and maybe a custom font/ascii lib)… And, at the same time set up a tele keypad driver to interface with it.  That’ll keep me busy and learning for my next few projects – and might integrate the results into the digital audio granulator/synth, the analog synth, and my portable directional audio spectrum analyzer, ambitious, long-term projects. (About a year). That’s all I feel like engaging in at this time.  It’s a big enough chunk. I’m thoroughly fascinated right now, and the spirit of invention is strong in me right now, outside of work.

I’m still going to work (to my software engineering job) at 5:45 every day while we have to coordinate with the international team. It’s not a big deal, actually. I mean yes, I am tired. But, I needed to shift my sleep schedule up a few hours anyway, and although this is overkill, when it’s over next Tuesday, I’m sure I’ll have at least an hour circadian rhythm shift. And, which is why I don’t complain about it – even to myself. Perspective, man…  There are benefits. Also, traffic is like non-existent.  Good thing. And, I go home earlier. All good.

Brad Ormand - Audio Tool - First UI

10.08.2014 – Job, Songs & Animation

Damn – life is exciting right now! In addition to my personal projects, I have to be at work at 6 every day for the next week.  Yeah… in the morning. It’s 1/2 exciting and adventurous, and 1/2 kind of uncomfortable. But, overall, it’s fine.  It’s something new. I saw a shooting star on the way to work, for instance.. Right now, it’s 6:30 and still dark, about to get coffee and start the day.. I actually feel wonderful! Got plenty of adjusted sleep last night and feel a sort of excitement of the adventure of it all and, of course, from the buzz of my Audio Tool.

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Speaking of… I spent several hours on the case for the tool – hooked up 3, 1/4 inch jack units, the power switch, the speaker terminals, and started the Mic/Line switch, etc. I mounted the board in the case, mounted the battery holder (with a nice hot glue pad for stability), and marked the top cover for all of the rest of the switches to go on there. Of course, I always try to spend the extra time to get everything symmetrical and evenly spaced – like CSS for the real world UI lol.. It’s looking great, and it’s a great next level in my advancement. Growing and learning through doing actual implementations and getting actual experience. That’s the ticket.

And now.. Back to music… “Fine” needs a 3db boost to it’s kick at about 125Hz, and perhaps a 1db boost, overall. “Kitchen” is gonna need a little cosmetic surgery to it’s kick – it’s a bit more severe. ..(I’m really focusing on kicks right now).. It needs more body, but not at it’s fundamental, way down at like 50, because it’s just too low for the song. I need a bump more like at 70 or 90. I even considered this morning to swap out the kick type altogether if I can get it to work.. I don’t know, tho.. I’m going to keep fixing it until the song gets what it needs and deserves.  Might switch it out.

And, in other news, I’m preparing to write a driver for a 16 x 32 RGB LED matrix so that I can produce a few animations – some int physics and some Bresenham drawing to the display as an entertainment installation. It’ll end up being mostly a two-button input animation switching interface that just sits there and looks awesome. The only problem I see is that the datasheet says it writes two pixels, together, at a time, per clock cycle, and for (single-point) particle physics, I hope I’ll be able to write one of them to “off”. Ha.  We’ll see.
For animations, I’m thinking: #1) 10 to 20 random-tinted particles with gravity bounded by the box (display wid & hgt)… #2) a random vertical spectrum analyzer-looking thing, and #3) horizontal single-pixel rays of varying length shooting by at random speeds and colors, left-to-right.