Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sound FX, Guns, Jewelry and My Giant Sausage Fingers

I had every intention of spending time on prop and jewelry making this weekend. I also still had a ton of sound work to do. I managed, with two simple purchases, to remedy much of the sound work. I like finding my own sound FX and music cues and I'm pretty good at it. But I don't understand how they chose the tracks that appear on sound FX CDs. I needed some pretty common things: storm and winds; bugle calls; a factory whistle. The storm stuff was easy. That's all that was easy. One CD was called 1000 Essential Sound Effects. There were literally 1000 tracks on three discs. Not a bugle call or a factory whistle among them. But if I wanted "Jungle Sounds" or "Hobo Vomiting in the Alley" or "Telemetry" or "Laser Beam" or "Explosion," I was covered. Now really, I ask you: Who the fuck is doing science fiction plays set in the jungle featuring nauseous vagrants vomiting while robots wage war against one another? Have the creators of these CDs any idea of the kinds of sound FX modern theatre requires? I was looking for a roaring cheer and boisterous applause. I previewed the tracks labeled "Crowd 'Yeah!'" and "Crowd 'Ooh!!'" and "Crowd 'Whee!'" They were completely generic, false and listless; just many people with the same inflections and tones and about as realistic as the plot of any given episode of 24. "Wild Applause" and "Large Crowd Applause" were both anemic and hollow, sounding more like polite applause at a chamber-music concert in an Emily Bronte novel. Yeuch! So, the search goes on.
Then comes prop-work. Props I know. I can almost make anything, or modify something else to suit my needs. And i have made some pretty strange props, costumes and even wigs in my time, so I was confidant I could handle the guns and jewelry. After an unexpected errand, I got a later start than I intended. I had repaired reconfigured the ray-gun for Henry and Dale had finally made the plastic pistola accommodate the gauge I'd rescued from my old pool filter, for Mr. A's gun. So I sat at my kitchen table, tools, paints, glues, and putties in place, ready to make a fabulously Vernian gun.
The rubber tubing, which had worked so well for Henry's gun, wasn't right for the pistola. I even bought wire and inserted it, trying to make it coil the way I wanted it to, but it was having none of it. Then. I had an idea of using a stainless vertical roaster to exaggerate the muzzle and add more real metal. The opening n the roaster was too small to accommodate the pistola's slightly flared barrel. Sigh.
So, I set it aside and went to work on jewelry. I had all these great gears from clocks, but they were all attached to their rods, with no way for me to remove them without a vise and hacksaw, neither of which I own, being the handyman genius that I am (NOT!). Okay, they are useless as jewelry. But, I happened to set one down near the pistola (no doubt a souvenir from Disney World) and notice that it's construction left holes for the screws holding it together and got an idea. After a few hours of modeling, gluing, drying, re-gluing, painting, and re-drying and the pistola is a thing of Steam Punk beauty. I must get pictures of it so I can post it here and on the company's site.
Back to jewelry while the first stage dries. I get out all the stuff I bought and start to play. I made a kind of cool pin out of part of a locker clasp, but it's messy and not exactly what I wanted it to be. I am going to try another version of it, later. My huge sausage fingers just get in the way and things get smeared and finishes muddied, even using tools like pliers and tweezers. I need a vise! Maybe I'll take everything to the theatre shop next Saturday and see if working on it there helps. Of course, anything could happen between now and then. Aye-yi-yi!
As always, more of this anon.

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