Tag Archives: learning

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.

 

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

2016.01.26 – Woodcarving Pieces – Nickel and Horses

I finished two relief woodcarvings over the last month or so – a Nickel coin and two Palomino horses making a heart.  I gifted the horse one to my aunt and I still have the nickel.  I think they look really good.  I’m getting better and better at this as I go along, and as I gain more inspiration.  There are still quirks in my crafting process to be worked out of course, but it’s definitely rolling.  Can’t wait to keep it going and do some other ideas.

Brad Ormand Woodcarving Palomino Horses

Both are hand-carved with knives and chisels, using my homemade hammer (I love that hammer, I’ll be making some more of those soon, as well).  And, I used various grains of sandpaper to smooth it all out.  At the end, I used a Dremel tool to sand the inside of the smaller crevices.  I think I could have gone deeper and made the edges smoother with my chisels, but I will need to form new techniques, and perhaps use more precise tools – or just make the medium bigger.  Keeping the tools sharp was a constant challenge as well, but I kept the stones and oil on hand and sharpened them every day.  The wood is Basswood – usually pretty soft, but these were actually pretty tough cuts – I have had an easier time carving in Cedar and Mahogany.  And, the areas near the pith were really hard to keep smooth.  But, I adapted.

//  P A L O M I N O _ H O R S E S

Brad Ormand Holding Horses Carving

The horses came out of a Thanksgiving conversation with my aunt.  She collects horse-related artwork of different kinds.  I was chatting with her and some people around the dinner table about what I had been doing lately, about my recent carvings (the old man, the lion, the other faces), and she mentioned she liked Palomino horses, and I said that I’d love to try to do some Palomino horses in wood, with that long hair, one of these days.  I thought it would go great on wood.  That night, I sketched something up, got excited about it and decided to do the challenge!  The carving itself took me about 50 hours or so altogether over the holidays.  I gave it to her for Christmas.

//  N I C K E L

Nickel Woodcarving 1 Brad Ormand

I was sitting at my desk at work one day and was about to buy a soda from the machine around the corner.  I noticed an especially shiny nickel from my pocket and was drawn in by the relief of the Monticello.  I had just bought a few wood rounds to experiment with, and right then [pow], I decided to map that nickel out onto the wood round and carve a huge nickel cuz it seemed like a fun idea.

I got a little caliper and measured the fine detail on the nickel coin, and with a little algebra, mapped it onto the wood.  I started with the Monticello, got it placed right, and then filled in the lettering and borders.  After I carved the letters and windows, I burned them in to be dark.  I did some more rounding, detailing, and cut deeper, over 10 or so sessions a few days apart.  I’d guess the whole thing took me about 75 hours of work.  It was a great experience – just ridin’ in the zone and implementing ideas over and over, havin’ fun.

I plan to do more relief carving in those Basswood rounds.  Lots of fun, but also pretty painstaking, so I want to do the “right” ideas – ones that I feel excited about.  I want to do faces, like a dog or a lion, but I’m having a good time with coins and seals.  I’ll be starting on another soon.

 

Simple Analog Synth Brad Ormand

2016.01.22 – ARM Cortex M4F System Running Great

There’s so much going on in my research and experiments, it’s just hard to explain everything right now.  But, in a nutshell, I have been patiently (but consistently) ramping up knowledge of building some awesome applications for the ARM Cortex M4 – both hardware and software.  I have a lot of audio processing, lighting, and graphics ideas to start on so my first step is to become well-versed in their operation.

In the last month or so, I have been drawing faces, drawing UI, painting, making headway on the ARM stuff, woodcarving, working on music, running over my budget for the new year (like multiple times with complicated, categorical spreadsheets), doing some behavior modification (like stopping drinking sodas and exercise regularly and others), working on this site, and so much more that I don’t write about.  Sometimes, it does seem like I have too many things going on, but like I say – “I just follow my interest” – and, where it leads, that’s where I go- just enjoying life as it comes, working with what I have.  I definitely try to wisely balance it all by not getting into “comfort-only” scenarios, like spending gobs of time on stuff that doesn’t require any hard thinking or sweat from the brow.  Rather, all of my “hobbies” require actual work and are investments in my future and have the additional benefit of brightening my days when I do them.  The fulfillment factor is high.  That’s what I’m feeling right now.  But, I also have to take it one step at a time as to not get burned out – going for a good balance.  It’s a great start to the new year.

// A R M

As for the ARM stuff, though…  Lately, I have been deeply involved in trying to find a great toolchain and chipset that would work well with Mac OS X and my limited PCB fab opportunities here.  I heavily explored the Atmel SAM4S for a while, and then the Silicon Labs EFM32 (I do like Simplicity Studio), and even experimented more with PIC24’s and PIC32’s (I like MPLABX, too), but I have been heavily preferring the NXP / Freescale Kinetis K series Cortex chips and their KDS (surprised, but happy about their merger 🙂 ).  I have everything I need to program and debug them,  and I think Freescale and NXP have a lot of support around their products these days.

ARM Breadboard Circuit 1 Brad Ormand

And, whichever ARM Cortex M4F I choose, I feel future-safety coming off this because of the CMSIS rallying and the ARM standards and it’s growth.  And, the IoT revolution is really just beginning, and I want on the train, and I’m digging my own tunnel with these research shovels.  This is certainly a new career path for me, but as I am already “dug in” to, and known, in the software industry I am currently employed in, I will continue that for a few more years.  It’s stable.  But, as I get more and more skilled at producing hit ARM apps with CMSIS, C/C++, and assembly, and as I refine my architecture ideas (both HW+SW), I’ll be closer to being able to switch my day-to-day doings over to full time by about 2020, I believe.

// G O O D _ M I L E S T O N E

So, that’s what I’m thinking for that…  It was a huge milestone to get the Kinetis rolling with some of my former code written for the PIC24.  I ported some stuff over and after a few nights, I finally got it rolling!  It was really nice to see it running as expected.  Many things are different – interrupts, 32-bit vs 16-bit, registers, SysTick, NVIC, etc., so being able to rely on this setup as my “go-to” platform gives me a lot of leeway to design stuff from now on.  It’s huge because it finally allows me to have a string of product design and code architecture sessions over the next months that won’t be interrupted by changing platforms or technical difficulties.

Also, I’m using the Segger J-Link now with a bare, exposed, Kinetis K22 ARM LQFP 64 chip that I soldered to a little plain break-out board (with filter caps and custom programming header and stuff).  I’m going direct to bare chip without a dev kit, which was what one of my requirements were all along to getting this train started.  I wanna design the board, power, regulation, routing, logic levels, inverters, amplification, communication, interfacing, headers, electro-mechanicals, etc. – the entire system.  Cuz, I think that stuff is fun, too.  More work, but I wouldn’t wanna give up that phase.  And, so I’m saying, that now that I’ve got that innovation complete with something stable in the lab, I feel like I have a platform to jump off of to design an endless amount of other applications, unrestrained.  But, boy did it take a few months of setup time and sifting through the cruft of what would work best for me and my setup.  Now, all good.

// T H E   _  F U T U R E

Simple Analog Synth Brad Ormand

I think, first, I’ll get the previous project I wrote about last month all set up with this new “drive train” and then move on back to the FFT application I developed last year, perhaps with my DisplayTech color TFT with cap touch.  Maybe a pinch zoom for FFT window resolution?  Maybe a custom, level-switchable analog front end?  Maybe build a touch, animated GUI lib to apply to all my new designs.   Maybe a digital version of my old “Audio Tool” with selectable synthesis?  Who knows..  I’m ready to get things going and move on though.  Seems like I just got to the point to where I can finally get to the product design phase.  Ready to go.

 

 

Brad Ormand Books - Cortex BN Oct

10.06.2015 – New Books came in and ARM CortexM4F

BOOK ORDER

Books again!  I really love getting used books from Barnes and Noble.  The most expensive book I wanted, bought new, went for $120+, and I literally got it for $5 at a used textbook bookstore affiliate of B&N.  Two of ’em, I got for less than $3.  I just share the occurrence because I get really excited about getting them in! (like I did the last time I did this) They’re beautiful.  Analog.  Books.  Also, they pertain to my current projects, as well.

I ordered 6 books this time – 5 electronics-related and one about architecture / building construction.  I got a  book on Digital Logic from the 70’s!  Haha – I just wanted to see what it was like back then, plus there’s actually good logic education content in there.  I even sometimes fantasize about living at the age I am now back when transistorized computers were just getting started.  I have a great love of computer history.

And, I got 2 books about power supply design – One for Linear supplies and one for Switched-Mode.  Can’t wait to see if I can beef up my design capabilities and understanding with these.  I would like to have a more versatile palette of production possibilities for providing power. 😉 a P alliteration, why not…  And, I got another one about different ways to build analog audio amplifiers – circa 1980.  Much love!

I got an ARM Cortex M-series book, as well, which was the main one I went to the site for.  I started reading it yesterday outside in the cool Fall weather on my comfy chair out near the garden and wood pile.  What a nice experience.  I’m really looking forward to using the DSP/floating-point features of this chip to drive displays (with FFT, etc) and my electronic art.  I wrote an 8-bit, integer FFT after this linked post a year ago.  Now, I want to bump it up a bit.  I want to get a complete, comprehensive understanding of this chip so I’ll know just what all I can do with it when it comes to design time.  I don’t want any surprises come firmware time – I wanna be caught up completely, so I’m reading it front to back.  Made it to page 71 out of 800 so far… 🙂

Brad Ormand Books - Cortex BN Oct

And, it’s been since last Spring that I have been immersed in embedded stuff.  It good to have the time to focus on it again.  Recently, I had been focusing on the album release (and also changed software jobs), and now I have a little more free time to get back on what I left off of. Very exciting.

ARM CORTEX M4F

I’m targeting the Silicon Labs (also headquartered in Austin) CortexM4F chip, EFM32WG942F256 in a QFP64 package, code-named the Wonder Gecko.  Awesome.  32-bit, 256K of flash, 32KB of SRAM, and runs at 48MHz, with a hardware FPU, and with SIMD that I will try to take advantage of for light and stereo sound applications.  That’ll do the trick.  Let’s start some work…

In September, I went on a river cruise with friends and family on the Austin “Town Lake”, and we floated by the main Silicon Labs building, downtown (right on the river).  I had been using the Atmel SAM4S ARM chips.  They were fine, but I had to use an open source toolchain, lots of dependencies and patches, and – I program using a Mac, and just..  well, there was no ported IDE or any integration at all and lots of complications.  So, that got me to thinking, “I wonder what Silicon Labs has in their portfolio”?  It was just a few minutes after I saw their suitable offerings that night online and that they had a Mac version of their IDE that triggered my interest right away!  And, now, I’m trying it out.  Boots up fine and with CMSIS support and support for my programmer/debugger.  And, energy efficient – I’m runnin’ it with a CR2032 as well, right now.  Awesome!  So, I’m doing that now, instead.  Plus *they frum Texas..  BTW, ARM also has an office in Austin.  I drive by it every day. 🙂

Brad Ormand - Austin Downtown Cruise

Brad Ormand - Family - Guys - Austin Downtown

There have been instances, in the past, of me deciding on a platform and going with it, Sam4 gcc, Pickit3, etc., but I wasn’t actually entirely satisfied with my toolchain.  I really hope I’ll be able to have a really smooth time with this setup – one where I can really work efficiently and creatively.  I’ll continue and report on my results later.

And, as a final thought…  I think it’s time that I finally settle down with the gear I am going to use and show what I can do with it besides flashing LEDs and running cool animations on displays.  I wanna show myself what I can do system-wise, mainly, and for the marketplace and for my future creative career.  I’m sincerely dedicated and interested in doing that just for the love of the game alone, and for the expanse of possibilities that I can produce (for IoT and light and sound) if I just had the right calm mindset and time to do it.  It’s coming up, I think.  I’ll batten down and see what I can do.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

09.14.2015 – The Music Journey

So, my album “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” was released this month on the 4th.  I wrote the songs, played the parts, sang, recorded, produced, edited, mixed, and mastered it.  And, now I have released what I made to the public.  I’m both excited and relieved!  Now, I can mature my style and move on to the next batch of songs.  I have lots of new things planned!

It’s out in all major outlets – iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, XBox Store, and a lot of other places.

Here it is on iTunes  &  Google Play  &  Amazon :

==================================================

It’s out for sale and stream, but it’s also simply a statement that “I’m out here, too” and “I want to have fun with music, too, and engage in business with it, too“.  And, I’ve been receiving some attention for it from players in the industry.  It helps to put me in place to do more and more and more of it.  And, I’ll only get better and better at it because I’m determined to do so and I just work all the time.

Brad Ormand Album on Google Play

This one was far better-sounding and more balanced than my last, and the product gets better with each release.  My plans are to keep continuing to release every year or so until I am coming up with hit records every time with Grammy potential.  I may or may not be capable, in the end, we’ll see, but I’m sure going to try. 🙂  I mean, if you examine a successful entrepreneur’s or artist’s or businessman’s early work, it was likely not his defining work.  But, when they do succeed in a big way, the lessons and potential came from practice and those earlier experiences and their grit.

I’m already inspired by other July and August releases, such as from Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, Astralwerks, and Skrillex’s labels that have forged my image of what better, more intricate touches the next album can contain.  I’m not saying the album I released this month is not strong work, because it is, but I am saying that I have even better-sounding stuff coming through the pipe, which is why I am somewhat relieved – it’s because now, I get to switch over to work on the new ones and prepare them for massiveness!  I’m going to keep doing this.

Brad Ormand Album on iTunes

In 2013, I completely re-vamped my production and engineering style.  I went back to basics and learned other ways to do many things, and then combined it with what I was already good at.  The process and practice paid off.  Now, in 2015, I am at that platform again.  I have dug deep into the interworkings of modern vocal synths and more advanced synth parameter automation with Pro Tools in the last few months, which was my 2015 goal – to do more with synthetic harmonics using formants and organic, voicebox sounds – both beautiful AND retched!  And, I can’t wait to take it to its depths in the next few months.  Also, I have a much better narrative and storytelling sense now, and I have an idea how I can improve my mastering approach.  I have so many ideas for sonic production that I can hardly stand it – from heavy songs to really chill, beautiful, warm songs.  A lot of good stuff is coming, I truly believe.

Anyway, I’m excited about Spirit of Adventure because it contains a few gems, some great choruses, and some powerful sub bass and kick drums (that I’m proud of) – all of that can garner attention and be licensed for broadcast, sustaining this.  I want this business to fund my writing and production process (and each upcoming album), and so the engine goes on and on, etc…  That’s all I ask.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

All this is part of my journey as a music producer.  The album had varied genres, and it can stand for what many things I am capable of doing up to 2015, my versatility.  I am an unknown artist, right now, but this album at least puts me on the map so that my next one comes through with people already paying attention.  I’m open for business, tho.

I’m dead set on making top-quality songs – songs that evoke real emotion and spread love and dazzle you and make you excited about life!  And, I already know where to go from here.

 

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

06.05.2015 – Woodworking & Drum

So, I took care of cutting the fallen tree down in my yard from the storm.  There’s plenty of wood to work with, and I made some things with it. I did a woodworking mallet for chisels, and a drum.  It was awesome fun.  I’m getting to know the anatomy of Cedar (or Ashe Juniper) pretty well – and, it smells wonderful!  The wood is fresh and green, and although, for some things, I could better use it dried, I’m trying things right now while it’s green, and I’ll learn the lessons from it, directly.

Brad Ormand - Fallen Tree Progress

First, I wanted to build a drum.  But, I needed chisels and I got some new solid chisels to work with – I only had some blunt ones that had chips and heavy use.  Also, I only had steel hammers, and I wanted to hit them with a heavy wood mallet to not mar them up.  So, I built the hammer first, and then the drum, over the weekend.  If I had a lathe, I’d utilize it, but actually I’d like to hold off on that for now, and keep doing stuff by hand until I get the basics down.  Plus, it’s really fulfilling.  I want to record a song later using only instruments from this tree.  Jus’ Cuz.

Wood Mallet:

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

I have some inner bark that I kept intact that I am going to use as a veneer, and perhaps even a drum head / playing surface.  I have those drying out under weight on the patio…  Also, I talked to my brother about getting some rawhide to use as well.  But, I ended up buying some mylar sheets from the local hobby store, for now.  I used to work at a drum shop (with a drum factory next door), so I have lots of real, practical experience with drum stuff.  I’ll do a few different sizes and types of drums, and then see where it takes me. 🙂

Drum:

Brad Ormand - Using Mallet to Chisel Drum

The one I made this weekend was a small one, roughly a 4″ hollow.  At first, I put some dry 1/4″ plywood over the top of it with silicone, and well, it’s wasn’t very resonant at all…  at ALL. 🙁   It sounded more like a woodblock than a drum.  It’d be a good addition to a set, but not for a drum sound, and that’s really what I wanna make – a responsive hand or stick drum that has a bit of woooof to it.  Then, later, I made an edge and nailed on some mylar.  Much better!

Now, as I go along, I’m cutting another piece off the (fallen) tree this week (this time 8″), and I’ll make a little rim system for it (out of the same tree) to secure it nice and tight.  Should be a fun project.

All-in-all, I’m really feeling great doing this kind of work.  It’s stress-free, natural, challenging, and it’s real, man work.  After I finish this one, I’ll move on to the table…  But, I revolve from woodworking to software projects and research, to working on music, to electrical stuff, to painting – all at the same time.  And, when I get good updates, I post it here.  But, that’s the thing, everything is working in concert with each other by fulfilling a certain kind of creative interest with each discipline, by which I get ideas for the other stuff as I get my mind directly off of it, and so on.  Ok, until next time…

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.

Hex Light - Stills Of Animation 2 - Brad Ormand

02.12.2015 – Lights & Devices

During the last few days, I have written several animations for the Hex Light, improved the animation library and software utilities I have going for all of my lights, and have swapped animations one after another trying to find the right sequence.  I also got blended colors going.  **I really need to start producing video to go with these log entries…

And, in the interim, I’ve been doing a lot of research into prices of parts, chips, and supplies to make the boards and art.  Basically, I’m trying to design REV B of the board and enable part- and code-sharing among as many of them as possible.  Actually, it’s pretty exciting.  I like doing it.  It’s like a little game.  🙂

Hex Light - Stills Of Animation 3 - Brad Ormand

I showed the Hex Light and other projects to friends and family this weekend and it was a hit, I think!  And, plus, we talked about all kinds of possibilities for the future, such as limited editions, knotted wood, inset screws, and wall-sized art.   Plus, I got advice from some business veterans about marketing and product design.  That gets me excited for the future.  I like this.

But, for now, I want to focus on making a good selection of the lights – large, medium, and small – all price ranges, and making the prototypes as cool as they can be 🙂  Also, I’ll be in business with the Dodecahedrons and my paintings, as well.  I’ll have an album and a synth instrument, as well, upcoming.  It’s thrilling to me to design these and come up with stuff that people get excited about!  I get excited about them, too!

Hex Light - Stills Of Animation 2 - Brad Ormand

That being said, there’s only so much I can do at a time.  Plus, I have a full-time engineering job.  But, every night and on the weekends (if I’m not venturing out), I chip a piece of the shroud away from the form of the dream.  Right now, as I said, I’m designing products.  I’m implementing the ideas that inspire me.  I did a Hex Light prototype all the way from an idea to done and working.  This REV B board for it is going to be what I’ll try to put into production.  I’ll keep working on it as I continue to get the other lights caught up to the “working prototype” stage.  As I said, they’ll all share some common parts and production methods.

For instance, I’ll probably go with a 44-pin TQFP MCU, get them in bulk and flash the appropriate program on them for the application.  It seems like I could save money by getting 3 or 4 different processors, specific for each application (like if I only needed 2 full ports and 2 ADC’s for one thing, instead of 4 full ports and 6 ADC’s), but really, I can’t save that much, because getting bulk means that I already save cash on the one model, in bulk.  If an MCU costs $8 each for under quantity 10 and $5 each for 500 or more, I get the discount, overall.  And, as for the labor, I’d like to work with a common port pinout and register layout for the common libraries I’m writing.  That’s the kind of thing I’m spending the most time on now.  Haha – who knows what will end up being “the right thing”, but I’ll learn as I go along.

REV B for the board will halve the size and be labeled much better with a proper soldermask, silkscreen, and two layers – plus it will use SMD parts.  Mounting it on the art will be much easier, and I can use that same board in a few products.  I’ll have to make other boards, say, for the Tri-Light and single hex “mini” lights, but my direction now is to get the more complex board settled and then use the techniques learned from that to create the mini ones.

Hex Light - Stills Of Animation 1 - Brad Ormand

Anyway…  I could go on and on…  It’s fun to try to get these pieces going for production.  It’s not stressful, but it’s not easy, either.  I want to see these pieces come alive and be in good form, so I’ll do what I have to and just see what I got after they’re done.  Then, I can move on to other projects, like the synth and metal dodecahedron.

Brad Ormand - Waveform of Good Kick

10.10.2014 – Analog Filters, Skrillex & Philosophy

Ahhh, yeah.. Detour yesterday. I forgot that I had ordered some (like 3 of them) Analog filter design books last week – used, for like 1/10th of the price, each (Goodwill listed one that I had been looking for for a long-ass time that went for over $130, but I got it for 8 bucks.  It’s totally readable – I mean it’s just like the books I got used from the University bookstore – totally all good for learning the information contained inside, even if there *is* writing in it). Totally exciting.

Well, I got one in yesterday, and I dove in. Totally informative. I had held off on getting them before because they were all well over $100 each. Anyway, I had been wanting to clarify and solidify my knowledge of signal filter circuits – for audio frequencies, especially. I’m not going to redesign my Audio Tool, but for my next projects (specifically the synth), I want to be very precise with my values.
There are 2 things that I want express about this whole experience:

#1)  The purpose of diving in to learning this topic is precisely so that I can deeply understand the theory and coordination between the components in each configuration so that I can commit to memory the operation of each configuration.. So that when the time comes to design a certain idea that I have for a device, I can just pull out the myriad of design angles from my mind at that point in time and get right to designing it without going to books or the internet first. It’s like having tools in my toolbox that have been tempered with experience and focus, ready to be used in the real world, instantly.  That’s what I’m going for, in the end.  That’s probably how Edison and Einstein and Michelangelo and Leonardo did it, I think…  Like, being able to produce on the fly with existing knowledge – not always having to detour out, saying, “Now, what was the way that went again?”,  “How do I do that again?”, “Better ask Google”.
#2) The reason for getting 3 books on the same subject is for reinforcement. I take this approach for pretty much every topic I learn – I get multiple sources. One author teaches from his/her experience, another from thiers. Also, it’s parity towards authors who may not be so experienced, or are motivated to write the book to impress their peers or for publishers to make money.  I’m not cynical about this, just aware that this exists and that it’s human nature and it’s “ok” to do so, but it is noise over my endgame. Never can know.

I’m also looking for real love of the subject by the author. There are just a lot of books to choose from, and establishing habits at the beginning of learning something is very influential later on and hard to break, thus..  the 3+ sources.  The important thing to me is the actual understanding (leading to real-world capability) of the subject to use in daily life.  So, by having a few sources of learning for a subject, they act as patches over each other – where one book was weak, another may “fill in the gaps”. So, that’s a sentiment that I have been wanting to write down for a while. 🙂

Anyway, back to the topic at hand…

So, like 6 hours were dumped into 100 pages of analog circuit design yesterday – following schematics, more theory, etc…  I sat outside in the breeze. However, I did manage to mix out some songs: “Kitchen” and “Looking for” for kick and sub frequencies. Better, both of them.. But, still needs more work. The kick on “Looking For” is nearly perfect for what I can do, and I’m stopping right there, but needs some sub help on the chorus. Ahh – so tricky…

“Kitchen” is gonna have to have it’s kick replaced, I think (again) – can’t get this kick I recorded to work (it’s an 18×22 kick I have in my studio), tuned low with its fundamental at about 47hz. It just doesn’t have the tight characteristics I’m looking for for this particular mix. Plus the bass guitar is high and tight, too. Ahhh, on second thought.. I’m just going to re-mix the bass and kick altogether. There should be enough 80 to 200hz frequency info in the beater-side track.. I’ll version it out. I’m somehow gonna get it right and tight, but keep that 50hz resonance, slightly. I’ll try that.

IMG_2589

And, the version of “Dive” that I did Sunday rocks so hard. I really love it’s sub & kick frequency combo. Also, I think “Fine” is working out nicely as well. I mean, I do hear some inconsistencies between mine and commercial tracks. I know I am not “matching up” to the best of the best, yet, but I really do think this is my best mixing ever – It’s a far cry from what I was producing 5 years ago, and in another 5 years, I think I ‘ll have come in to my own personal resonance 🙂

Speaking of Far Cry (I mentioned it…)..  haha I am looking forward to Far Cry 4, for real.  Love the series, played them all to the bone.  Big environment, great textures, immersive world, story – all of it…  Highly influential to me…  Plus, they had Skrillex’s track (Make It Bun Dem) in a prominent scene in the main story in FC3.  Oh god..  Just love to hate that track because it’s so good.  Lightens my life.  Love this guy. All of his stuff is gold as far as I’m concerned.  Dat boy good…  Plus, I’m loving, right now, the Reggae philosophy of peace, love and happiness and harmony, mon.  For real.  Irie! So, I took a liking to it.  The kick audibly clips, but sounds so good, actually. (I’m not a traditionalist 18db-of-headroom kinda guy 🙂 ) I had to study it, since my focus is on kick & bass mixing right now.  It’s got this certain knock/punch, but also has the sub to match – all together balanced.  One of the best I have heard for impact – louder than most.  Here’s a waveform capture.

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