Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008 from The Witchgers!

This is our Witchger Projects Family Christmas Card for 2008.

Merry Christmas '08 from Katian Witchger on Vimeo.

Project breakdown

1. Sound

Kevin laid out all the tracks and arranged the vocals and Bob and I recorded over this master our vocals and ukulele parts, Kevin added guitar (he said the doobie brothers doesn’t make sense on ukulele?!) drums and his vocals. Kevin takes it away and magically comes back with mp3 on a thumb drive. (this is my favorite kind of technical process)

2. Stops

A. Dress sets. Mom and Steph took a break form our Craft-Day-Tuesday to help cut out the rock star outfits.

B. Take pictures. Kevin and Bonnie minutely adjust the figurines while Kate occasionally gives unintelligible direction and makes grand manic gestures regarding not so subtle visual metaphors while taking a picture every 5-10 seconds (regardless of whether or not there is a hand still in the shot or if I have the camera focused or set correctly)

3. Motion

A. Upload all pictures into iphoto (I now officially do not like the iSoftware) this was done every 200-300 photos as I originally thought I was going to do this in a nice big file until the computer started crashing it up crash style) then

B. export each scenes pictures into folders.

C. Open each scenes photos in ‘open image sequence’ in quicktime pro. originally at 15fps but as the night grew longer it was clear 10fps would suffice (which is why the field and fountain moor and mountain scenes come a bit too early…) and save image sequence

D. import saved image sequences into iMovie (Dad has the old version 7 still on this iMac, last time I was home I tried 8 unsucessfully and remembered 7, quite generously and some may say incorrectly, as a beautiful and functional program.) Sort imported clips in timeline

4. Family Photo

The original idea for the family photo was to have it look as if the photo was a reflection in the disco ball and we were all there making this stop motion (in stop motion) and then coalescing into more or less a family photo pose. The gist was: Id have the camera taking a picture into the mirror, Kevin would be processing it on his computer, Bob would be adding the music track with his ukulele, Steph making the costumes with her craft gear and mom and dad trying to get us to take a break for the proper Christmas card (this is usually how the Christmas card picture taking manifests in our household more or less) My attempt to draw-out and relate this idea to dad was evidently insufficient as he decided the tripod was too low at this angle and the poses were not right and carried on orchestrating the family photo as per his usual ways. I did atleast get him to test out his cameras stop motion function so that’s something…

5. Finalize

After importing all image sequences into final cut attempt to get an avi file of our family photo shoot off dads camera. import and convert 7 times in various programs while the computer crashes 2-3 times.

finalization part 2: realize how very very little you can do in iMovie, import individual frames in photoshop attempt to export inset layered image of disco-ball macrolens (cropped in iphoto) shot with frame by frame family photo shoot only to be stumped by how one might access the frame by frame of an avi file after creating first frame.

finalization part 3: return to iPhoto duplicate and crop set of test photos export, open as image sequence in quicktime pro, (crash computer, repeat) save, import into iMovie. import discoball still from final section of orginal animation into iMovie set for 2sec duration attempt to layer, unsuccessfully with last image sequence.

finalization part 4: Adjust frame rates using Quicktime outputs from final disco ball zoom, (crash computer) import and attempt slow cross fade between family photo image sequence and 6fps discoball section. fail to find a way to adjust the cross fade duration.

finalization part 2:00AM. start over in iMovie, import all scene sequences in a row along with converted family movie, throw in the limited cross fade option between the final zoom in of the discoball mirror and the family photo video, add pre-mastered audio track and text box. export as mp4.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Homebrewing-Step 3

Friday, October 24, 2008

Homebrewing-Step 2

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Favorite Old Favorite Jacket by Salvage Jobs by Mom TM



I purchased this jacket when I was in high school round about age 16 from a thrift store in Cary. (whoa... I have articles of clothing over a decade old) It was my favorite jacket for along time and made it with me to college where one of the pockets was ripped off in some kind of biking fiasco I believe. Recently my mother fixed the pocket and embroidered a beautiful tree with bluebird on the back of it for me. It is now officially my new favorite old favorite jacket and will heretofore have all my favorite jackets embroidered with various things courtesy of mom. (So long as I stay pathetically unemployed and all alone on the other side of the world I feel certain I can guilt her into many many more elaborate craft projects dedicated to me! A small price to pay for fashion.)

She forgot to take pictures of the masterpiece for our blog so I will post some below or possibly above if I can figure out how to embed a flickr album.

Ill let mom add all the painstaking details on the equipment, hours of labor etc.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Homebrewing-Step 1

Monday, September 29, 2008

Our best imitation of 'Best Imitation of Myself'


Witchger Kids: The Transatlantic Recordings Best Imitation of Myself from Katian Witchger on Vimeo.


PROJECT PROCESS RUNDOWN:
The song:
This is the second in what will undoubtedly be a long-running* series of ukulele-driven-online-musical-collaborations which Kev, Bob (maybe someday Steph!) and I are recording for fun! (I think we need an official name... any suggestions?)
I suggested this particular cover via a video message wherein I played it fabulously (I'll say as you can't see that one) replete with the wrong chords; Kevin fixed it (with harder chords) and arranged it. He then sent the files to Bob and me with our specific parts separated on a reference track; we each used this track to play both our parts and I later used it to sync everything. (He gave me too many high parts despite clearly proving to him in the original video I could not handle them.) We each shot our parts in photobooth (originally Kevin shot via his digital camera but we had problems with timing. -we thought it might be because his camera captures in a different frame rate which has to be converted in order for me to be able to read the file... they are right for the beginning then they slowly slip out of synch. maybe that was the problem...it certainly could not be owed to poor musicianship!-atleast not on the boys' part.-)
I had a lot of problems syncing in final cut so we each sent Kevin mp3s of our parts which he mixed/mastered etc. in order to send me back one final consolidated track. I still had trouble syncing but that was mainly due to my impatience. Because I had to render such a high quality frame rate in order to actually see anything and all the different clips were different formats, it took overnight to render each time. (Laurie suggested converting them all to one format which would have been smart.- however, he suggested this to me when I had more or less completed the edit and the amount of time it would have taken to reformat the 12 separate videos, reimport them and redit would have taken far more time and energy than simply waiting for a ridiculously long render. I will however do this in the future. )
At first we transferred files using yousendit.com, but the free transfer size was too small to avoid grungy compression, so we later switched to uploading then downloading from vimeo, which uses up your weekly allotment but allows you a better quality image (to which you can then apply filters in order to make it look like a worse quality image; and then wait for the huge high-quality low-quality filtered file to render...its a 'better' low-quality, you see).

The video:
The video idea is pretty self explanatory I hope, it was inspired by: the discovery of the 'bad tv' effect** in final cut; my long running obsessions with 1)degeneration and 2)infinite regression; and the obscene number of soon-to-be obsolete 'tellys' you can find on the street in London since the announcement of the digital switchover.
After we each shot our individual parts via photobooth, I then shot the backdrop image in one take, while playing the song in the background for timing. If I'd given it a bit more thought, I wouldn't have had my remote-control-hand overlap the tv screens ...physics eludes me in states of excitement.
Also, I didn't notice my laptop auto-sleeping in the middle of the video which is why the video goes to full screen at some point...I did attempt to animate an arrow icon to move across the screen and click on the enlarge button in vimeo but I could only get an arrow picture with white background and it looked ridiculous; Bob never responded to my request for a possibly impossible virtual arrow object with a transparent background...I thought you could do it in photoshop but I didn't have access or know how to do this.

The set: I took a picture of what my video camera was seeing, put it into word (thats right word; Laurie has since gotten photoshop to work; thanks Laurie). I overlapped the pictures then took screenshots of these pictures and overlapped them repeatedly until a final screenshot which I uploaded to vimeo in a dummy file and then loaded into my webbrowser; once I finished the first edit of the video I exported it and layered the image of the first export over the computer screen, twice. For the record I'm totally okay with being such a geek.

WITCH-GEAR:

  • Our 3 respective computers with photobooth/webcams,
  • Our 3 ukuleles (Kevin made his ukulele!)
  • I also used my zoom H2 for my audio
  • Canon HV20
  • Reused tape
  • Canon Rebel SLR
  • Word
  • Final Cut Pro (with bad tv effect)

SAWZALLS: 3.5

TIME:
  • 10 minutes to record and send the original call
  • However long it took Kevin to figure the right chords, arrange the song and record the reference track
  • However long it took us each to record our two parts (I had to redo my vocals so it took total about 30minutes over 2 days for me)
  • 30 Min to shoot/log background footage
  • About 3 hours edit (not counting waiting in between for rendering)
  • Approximately 473,000 hours render & export over 17 weeks. ok maybe more like 20 hours over a week and a half

WHAT I LEARNED:***
  1. Despite honestly believing I have gained infinitely more patience in the past 2 years, I am still kind of impatient and that's okay with me.
  2. Things are the most exciting in my mind right before I start them.
  3. My lack of technical understanding/ability will not ever stop me; even when maybe it should.
  4. When editing ANYTHING from different computers/capturing devices I HEREBY PROMISE TO CONVERT EVERYTHING INTO THE SAME FORMAT BEFORE IMPORTING INTO THE PROJECT.
  5. I look A LOT like my brothers.
  6. Even though this is kind of frustrating and I'm not particularly good at any part of it, it is still enormously fun and I'll probably never be able to stop doing things like this even when sometimes they turn out mediocre.

***WHAT I REALIZED FROM CONSTRUCTING A LIST OF WHAT I LEARNED:
1.1 Learning to be patient is ultimately a long, aggressively boring waste of time with which I'm just not patient enough to deal. While I'm stuck spending all this time 'learning to be patient' I could just learn how to do technical things correctly, then I wouldn't need to be patient. Everything would work and/or if it didn't I would understand why and be able to fix it and/or be smart enough to realize it is unfixable and then set it on fire immediately and do a crazy dance on its still warm ashes. NO PATIENCE! ONLY CRAZY FIRE DANCING!
2.1 So long as I have access to such excitement it doesn't really matter when/where it is.
3.1 If my lack of technical understanding stopped me, I'd never get any more technical understanding.
4.1 Laurie is generally right when it comes to issues of: conversion, rendering, archiving, online banking, when the recycling goes out and german women.
5.1 I'm just now, at 26, realizing/understanding the visual ramifications of genetic procreation. I owe this realization to two main factors: 1) Since moving to London, I spend more time looking at myself at the same time as I look at my family because our primary source of interaction is via skype video chat and 2) I have only recently known non-family 'peers' who have begun procreating; seeing their new procreations has somehow unlocked this 'rosetta stone of resemblance'; its not simply shapes/colors/combination of physical features (people often look similar but don't look related); its a weird language of genetic resemblance that has like**** its own grammar and rules and exceptions... I find this unbelievably weird and do not understand why other people do not think this is unbelievably weird. I think if I ever have kids I will just stare at them for 18 years and say 'weird.' ....it is weird.
6.1 Concepts are far more important to me than their technical realizations. 6.2 I respect and work best with those who respectfully***** hold the opposite view. 6.3 i have the greatest brothers in the world.


------

*unless Kate manages to find herself some employment; if youd like to employ Kate you can reach her pretty much anytime, anyday at the computer doing silly things like this while looking for a job.

**Why 'bad tv' is my favorite video filter of all the video filters.
1. It looks undeniably cool.
2. It is technologically programmed to do all the bad things that bad technology does when it fails, and you can control the level/mode/combination of failure. This intrigues me. (Of course, when given the option to control the level of badness I will inevitably err' on the side of 'extremely bad' as per my philosophy: if your going to fail, fail hard; FAIL LIKE YOU MEAN IT. -Kevin will think the result of this is cheesy and that I should have exercised some moderation; he will not be wrong.)

****I'm sure mom was already too happy with the metaphorical rosetta stone allusion so I had to throw a 'like' in there; I can't go inflating her english teacher expectations!

***** I am bolding and italicizing this as Laurie aggressively taunts me from the other room regarding my trouble with rendering and converting; he is now laughing maniacally and screaming something about m4v. It is not often that he has a valid point (even if it is too far after the fact to be useful) in the course of our working together so I suppose I should let him have his excited time and continue praddling righteously something about the merits of uniform conversion.

(The backdrop image is supposed to be in HD but I can't log HD footage for some reason. I have my camera output set to 'HDV 1080i', I have the camera connected straight into the back of the computer via firewire and am saving onto the internal hardrive; in Final Cut's import settings I'm selecting 'HD1080i60 firewire basic' and it wont recognize my camera. It says 'you are attempting to log from a DV device....' It will recognize it as NTSC 16:9 even though I shot it in HDV. I have only ever gotten this camera to log HD in 'apple intermediate codec' with a firewire800 cable on an old mavis lab computer which did this really weird thing where it was taking longer than real time play to log and would say '80% ...' '70%...' '60% logging' until it locked up and crashed. Although I have to celebrate that this is a step up from 'On the Roof' I'd like to sucessfully make the next one in HD.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

bunnies <3 robots

so this weekend i tried my hand stopping motion to accompany kevin & i's FIRST transatlantic musical collaboration.

the following combines two super cool gifts given to me for my birthday this year by my family: 1) a zoom recording device which kevin and my parents got me and 2) a dymaxion airocean world map which bobby and stephanie found for me to temporarily satiate my cartographic obsession.


bunnies <3 robots from Katian Witchger on Vimeo.

the song
kev and i made this cover of daniel johnston's true love will find you in the end (hear original here) using indabamusic.com a site which supposedly allows you to upload and mix music online. sounds great right? well it could be im not sure we didnt exactly get it to work right. i, without thinking, uploaded my vocal and ukulele parts as one pre-mixed track (which i recorded in garage band via the zoom h2 recorder) and when kev went to mix in his parts he couldnt (as id balanced them wrong to cover up my inability to sing) so... i re-exported separate tracks and emailed them to him as mp3s which he then edited on his computer using protools. i was really really happy the day kev sent the mix; it was like magic to have his parts added. i know its not perfect but i think it sounds lovely.

the video
at 1:38 seconds this is the longest stop motion i will EVER attempt by myself. it is really messy and hard to follow in parts but i like how it turned out overall. for no other reason this was worth it for the better understanding of time i have gained... there was sort of a story, at least characters but it got a little muddled when i switched from 15 frames per second to 10 frames per second outputs.... originally i had planned everything by the frame to sync to the lyrics and piano on the basis of a rate of 15 frames per second. (some of the stuff right at the beginning is at a faster frame rate but overall it was too aggressive and didnt match the mood of the song) i have two 1 GB memory cards for my camera (kevins old canon rebel) and at medium size they hold just under 500 photos. i shot both cards and was, i thought, about half way done. i uploaded the photos and when i saw how fast it moved i had a play around and reduced the frame rate. i think it works better but i had to rejig 'the story' halfway through so as not to waste precious pictures.


basic process/time:
the song (30 minutes): i like this song so i learned it and happened to just have joined indaba because kevin had so i recorded it to see how the site worked.

1. the concept (2 minutes): there were two main catalysts for this 'concept' 1) i find a lot of crap around (read: on the street) most of which ends up organized in small boxes in my room. occasionally i need one of these small boxes and all the little bits get dumped in piles on my floor. 2) when we moved into our house in nunhead i bought some ancient blue tack from the corner shop down the street and since then, a constant, but rotating, 1/3 of the things on my walls are on the floor. the day i decided to try a stop motion for our song both a pile of small action figures and one of my maps were on the floor.... that'll do.
2. the story board (2 hours): i did a second by second story board and noted the lyrics or piano parts underneath each frame- which turned out to be a bit excessive; i only filled in every 3-4 but it was still helpful to see them all laid out)
3. the stops(5 hours): i then shot approx 1300 photos using my canon rebel on medium size setting
4. the motion (over night, 10 minutes): i imported all the photos into iphoto and opened using the 'open image sequence' function in quicktime pro, i used a 10 frames per second rate and saved the project in 3 files (each a memory card's worth of photos)
5. the edit (2 hours): i imported the 3 files and the mp3 from indaba into final cut and put it all together.


things i will do differently next time:
-FIND SOMEONE ELSE equally interested in hours of tedious minutiae to endure the production with me; kev ive got big plans for xmas break! i think even having someone else to move the figures would help dramatically with both how long it takes and the panning. (trying to move things then go back to the exact point in space only slightly to the left and frame the camera the same way is not really possible. i think having another person and holding your breath may be enough to fake it anyway.)
-lighting, i started playing around with the lighting during the 'step out into the light' bit and i wish id thought about it from the beginning... think i will do more light tricks and try to do a proper vertigo zoom pull (zooming in while panning out or vice versa) thing on the next go


time: approx 9 1/2 hours over 3 days

level of difficulty sawzalls rating: 4 out of 5

cost: no new costs on this project

witch-gear:
canon rebel, tripod
zoom h2
imac w/ garageband, iphoto, quicktime pro and final cut
stickers from stephanie <3>

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Shelves and Dresser

Shelves and Dresser


I needed some shelves and a dresser for my apartment, so I built some. I used 3/4" plywood because with a nice veneer, strips of oak made from hardwood flooring, some leftover jacobean stain and protected them with a satin polyurethane.

Time: long time

Cost: $300

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: Oak hardwood flooring and be used for many things. Edging plywood takes a long time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bike Overhaul (Step 2)


The plan is to remove some high-quality components from an old mountain bike that someone donated to Steph (but is too small for her) and replace the cheap components on my mountain bike with them.

Time: 2 hours

Cost: $40 (for new cables and housings and new grips)

Witch-gear: Repair stand, torque wrench, headset wrenches, pedal wrench, bike chain tool, allen wrenches, socket set, needlenose pliers, dry degreaser, dry lubricant, synthetic grease

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: 1) Bike cable and housing are very hard to cut. I tried older pairs of metal shears and diagonal nose cutters, but the only tool that worked was the cutters on my newer pair of needlenose pliers. (Even then, they really had to be squeezed.) and 2) Before you grab your chain tool and pop any old pin out of the chain to remove it, research how your particular chain is supposed to be removed. I popped a pin all the way out of my bike's chain, only to discover when I tried to reconnect the chain that it wouldn't go back in. Turns out the pin was only supposed to be pushed through the outer plate enough to allow to inner plate to slide out. With the help of an assistant I was able to get the pin back in the outer plate, but it was really difficult.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bike Overhaul (Step 1)



The plan is to remove some high-quality components from an old mountain bike that someone donated to Steph (but is too small for her) and replace the cheap components on my mountain bike with them.

Time: 1 hour

Cost: $50 (for a set of specialty bike tools)

Witch-gear: Repair stand, crank puller, headset wrenches, bike chain tool, allen wrenches, socket set, diagonal nose cutters, large adjustable wrench, WD-40

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: Taking the components off of a bike requires several specialty tools. Performance Bike's Essential Tool Kit includes most of the things you'll need for a bike made in the past 10 years. The tools aren't of superior quality, but they get the job done, the price is better than even buying two or three of these tools separately, and I'm not going to use them that often anyway, so I consider it a good value.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Living Room Shades

Living Room Shades


New shades for the living room. Oak flooring was cut, glued and clamped into blocks to mounts these on.

Time: 2 hours

Witch-gear: Table saw, drill, countersink

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What We Learned: Cheap oak flooring is awesome. It has lots of uses and doesn't look bad.

Ukulele

Uke


A Ukulele kit for Kate's arrival home. Now we can all play. A kit from grizzly.com.

Time: 10 hours

Cost: $25

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: Rubber bands can make good clamps.

Room Bebuild #2

Room Rebuild 2


Here is another room that we "rebuilt." It's my brother's old room and has now been converted into a guest room. While we didn't take the room down to the studs like the first Room Rebuild, replacing the ceiling, the lights, the floor and painting made this room look a lot better.

Time: 3 weekends

Cost: $500

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: 4 - T-8 bulb light fixtures are bright!, drop ceilings make a room feel like an office.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Roof

The Witchger's do The Drifters 1963 classic Up On The Roof for Mother's Belated Mother's Day present.


On the Roof from Katian Witchger on Vimeo.

This project, despite kevins best efforts, was entered into with less planning than enthusiasm. (most of the little technical direction there was centered around how to get the double bass on the roof; which took about 3 minutes) needless to say it was an editors dream! because the metronome couldnt really be heard up on the roof a lot of our timing was off on top of not finishing the editing before recording the song. so there were some timing problems. luckily my father has taught me a golden rule which can be applied seamlessly to all endeavors. Split the difference! So I spliced and doubled a few frames on either side when the recording and video didnt match.

seamless.

special thanks to mom for catching my uke and resetting the metronome and bonnie for helping run the camera.

What we learned:
1. there is atleast one plausible reason to have a double bass on the roof
2. protools hasnt changed much
3. the old iMovie is better than the new iMovie
4. old technology still does the job.
5. 500 temporary tattoos for 1.99 is not a challenge

Witchgear:

TECHNICAL This project was all done on some ancient technical witchgear
*old Canon ZR500 MiniDV Camcorder (My new camera is in the shop for 6 WEEKS!!!)
*eMac G4 & iMovie4 (I've never really tried iMovie before but someone seems to have deleted the copy of FCP4 we had on the old eMac so I put it onto dads new macbook pro and gave the new iMovie a try... It is pretty HORRIBLE, I got a rough cut and exported to the eMac/old iMovie to fine cut it. It worked ok it is a little frustrating b/c it does things for you you dont necessarily want done but you have a little more control than you do with the new version. Id say if youre going to use iMovie use the old one.)
*kevs old G4 (w/ set-up) and protools 5(it only crashed once! a solid machine.)
*MXL 990 microphone/xlr cable (I can only assume kevin got on craigs list)
*cheap aluminum tripod (prob came free with something)

*our new witchgear could not go unused one of the 3 macbook pros in our house was used in the production of this music video...as a metronome. (it got hotter than fire)


MUSICAL
bob: lanakai concert uke (27th birthday present from steph)
kate: hula ukes tenor uke (25th birthday present to self)
kevin: 'uke's by kevin' soprano uke (kevin made this from a grizzly ukulele kit mom bought for him to make for her... I'm not sure she'll be getting it back)
dad: double bass


SET
roof
werner electro-master 6 foot fiberglass/aluminium ladder


2.5 sawzalls (this project wasnt too difficult just lots of steps all of which went pretty smoothly)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Free Mulch Day

Mulch Day


Free mulch day does not happen often, but when it does we stop everything. The bathroom is not finished, Bobby's old room has been torn apart, I am in the middle of building some shelves and most of the cars have something wrong with them, but it's free mulch. We must get free mulch.

Time: 8 hours

Cost: $10 for an excavator to load the mulch. $8.50 in gas.

Witch-gear: s-10, trailer, shovels, lawn mower

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: The lawn mower needed to be fixed and as usual, I thought the carburetor needed to be clean out. After cleaning it thoroughly, and filling up with new gas, nothing. It turns out the spark wire was being clamped in the sheet metal and not in it's correct routing hole. It fired up first pull after the wire was feed correctly.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Magical Marxist Fire Uke for Yuk






My friend Yuk has recently had surgery and his left hand is still recovering. As an avid guitarist, this rehabilitation process is especially frustrating for him. (Though I'm fairly certain that sentence is not constructed correctly, I will leave it like that for you mother :):))

I have convinced him to take up the uke as a stepping stone while he regains strength/control in his arm and dexterity in his fingers. (And, of course, because the ukulele is the greatest instrument of all time)

I figure he needs a special uke in this circumstance so ive tricked one out for him. This is no ordinary uke mind you. This is arguably the greatest singular object i have ever encountered in my entire life. It is downright magical. While walking with him to the park, on my birthday I found this ukulele...in the trash! (not just on the top of bin either, this was on the bottom of a pile of black bags. I caught the faintest glimpse of the outline of the bottom curve in my peripheral vision and, granted im always -at minimum, subconsciously- scavenging, amazingly spotted this buried treasure. before i knew what i was doing, the bag was ripped open and a beautiful new uke had emerged into my hands! it was magic.

seriously though i think that is the best birthday event of all time for anyone ever. a magpie like me magically discovering a buried ukulele on a beautiful casual walk ON THE DAY OF YOUR BIRTH down a random side street when you actually not only know how to play but are marginally obsessed with said novelty instrument!?!??! #1 birthday of all time (oh and also b/c my mom loves me and sent a load of candy to me)

at the time of discovery yuk would not touch it (and fair enough it didn't smell as lovely as it's existence was in theory) but a good disinfectant and a paint job later and he'll have no choice but to become proficient!

i decided to paint it like fire for no particular reason other than i like fire, it looks pretty cool to have a fiery instrument, stylistic fire is easy to paint and i had a lot of red paint.

also, i happened to have a screen cut to print karl marx, not so coincidentally, his favorite philosopher (thats a whole other project; will post later), so i printed that on the back too for good measure.

i present to you witchger project # 27:
the magical marxist fire uke

witch-gear:
*acrylic paint, brushes
*black permanent marker (wish a had a sharpie i bought some pound shop knock-offs; sharpies are worth the cost!)
*mod-podge!! for sealing and extra shine
*speedball screen, black permaset fabric paint (lauries old school id as a squeegy; dont waste the money on a squeegy!! old plastic credit-type cards work better anyway!)

2 sawzalls

what i learned:
*(and what i forgot but knew) SAND IT DOWN FIRST! i imagine the paint will peel off pretty easily, i should have sanded it down especially with acrylic craft paint, if i decide to go in to business novelty uke painting i will probably sand them down before painting)
*a clamp would have helped to avoid smudging
*again, sharpies...they are worth it
*buying things will never make you this happy!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bike Gear Shifter

bike gear shifter

Steph currently commutes to work on Kate's old Specialized hybrid bike. Since she started riding it, she's been complaining that it does not shift gears. (Apparently Kate always stayed in the same gear when she was riding it.) After months of telling her she just wasn't shifting properly, I tried riding the bike this weekend and found that, even though the shifter knob on the handlebar could be moved around, the rear derailleur was not responding at all! (Sorry, dear.) I assumed the cable was broken, but Steph and I eventually traced the problem all the way up to the shifter — a grip-style shifter that's ability to pull the cable was inhibited by a broken internal component.

Time: 2 hours

Cost: $40 for a new shifter

Witch-gear: Bike Repair Stand, Allen Wrenches, Screwdrivers, Wrenches

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: The cable inside a grip-style shifter is routed inside of it in a very complicated manner, thus the cable comes pre-installed in a grip-style shifter. Also, I learned how to adjust the derailleurs from "Bike Tutor" videos about the front and rear systems.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stay Sharp

Drill Doctor!


Uncle Jeff sent the Witchger boys a little present. After a short time a pile of old dull bits were ready to be used again. It even put a nice new tip on a broken bit! Thanks Jeff!

Time: 1 hour

Witch-gear: Drill Doctor!

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What We Learned: Sharping drill bits is easy. 118 degrees bits are the default on this machine. Be careful when trying to split the bits points.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

S-10/Hyundai Door Handles

S-10/Hyundai Door Handles

The past weekend, Kevin replaced the broken driver’s-side door latch on his truck and we took apart the left rear doordoor on Steph and I’s Hyundai to replace the broken outside handle.

Time: 1 hour/each

Cost: $25/each

Witch-gear: Craftsman socket set, screwdrivers

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: Buy your replacement door handles on eBay. I’ve replaced an outside door handle on the Hyundai before, and paid $70 for it at the dealer. I got the same part on eBay for $25.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Speakers 2

Speakers 2


Another set of speakers here. I really like building speakers, I can't help it. I built them pretty much the same way as these. This set of speakers are a 3-way setup with an active crossover, and they're red!

Time: 1 month

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Making a Cup of Coffee



Hello my dearest family,
I regret my inability to post to our wonderful blog in/for quite some time, a regret that is in part owed to/by my full-time soul-destroying employment...sneaky modifiers; I'm really lost, I wish someone would have taught me these things...like an english-teacher/journalist/writer mother. Alas.

This project is one I have been practicing a lot over the past few months. (I have made approx 87 cups of coffee since coming back to work in January.) Free coffee is one of the few perks/perks of my job. And as dad had taught us all so well, if it is free, take it. Even if you don't want it, take it...& get a refill(s).

How to make a cup of instant 'white coffee'

Step 1: Add sugar and coffee grounds, approx 1 teaspoon each; equal amounts. I have found demerara brown sugar and douwe egberts gold instant coffee grounds to be the best available in mayfair. (I know, I know blasphemy with the 'instant' coffee. I baulked at first myself- despite my trademark pedestrian palate- but thats how they do it over here. I attribute this to the universal addiction/adoration to/of tea and the ubiquitous presence of the kettle -so ubiquitous in fact that the standard A/C power adapter cable is referred to as a 'kettle lead'-. Every one has a kettle so if you want the coffee option it has the comply with the existing technological infrastructure. Its really not that bad.



Step 2: Add milk. I have been told if you add the milk before the boiling water it will prevent the instant granules from burning. My vague understanding of science leaves enough doubt in my mind to allow this off-hand comment to alter my behavior; I'm still not entirely convinced but I figure the trade off (taking slightly longer for the granules to dissolve) is worth it. Reader's Note: I'm not sure if I should attribute this to being american, southern or from a 'frugal' upbringing but I always thought 'cream' meant anything which turns your coffee vaguely whitish. Cream is cream; milk is cream; that wierd mainly cocunut syrup gunk with hazelnut flavoring is cream; that gritty baby-formula derived coffee-mate powder is cream etc. This is not true over here. You dont say 'cream and sugar' unless you are incredibly posh and actually want pure cream in your coffee which is incidentally quite nauseating sort of like putting unsalted butter in your coffee. (If you take your coffee with any milk product is is called 'white coffee.')




Step 3: Rinse as much evil limescale from the kettle and fill with cold water. Again, Ive been told that adding cold water is better as less nasty evil things which lurk in the pipes are as likely to come out with cold water as they are with hot water. This seems reasonable. Ive half-read/heard other things too about something with oxygenation of water and the boiling process and temperatures...I'm not really sure any of the conclusions however this makes me even more confident about the cold water start as oxygen seems more often positive in contexts relating to human existence. Boil the cold water in kettle.




Step 4: Add boiling water to sugar/coffee/milk mixture and stir. Be sure the little mesh thing that keeps all the evil limescale in the kettle is firmly in place.

Step 5: Stir until all the little coffee bits disappear and the sugar is fully dissolved.

Step 5: Repeat 4-7 times a day.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

S-10 Clutch Master Cylinder

S-10 Clutch Master Cylinder


The S-10 was not going into gear. In fact we had to pull it out of the park spot to get it in to work on it because the clutch failed. We originally thought this was going to be a 3 sawzall project, but after finishing it, we realized it was much easier than expected. We replaced the master cylinder and bled the system. This may not solve to problem but it seems to work fine now.

Time: 4 hours

Cost: $55

Witch-gear: Craftsman socket set, wrenches, and pliers

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: They have designed quick disconnects in this car, so if we need to replace the clutch hydraulic line we have to go to the dealer for the parts and replace the master and slave cylinder and hose all together.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bathroom Rebuild 2

Bathroom Rebuild


Bathroom Rebuild 2



Months have gone by now and we are still working on the bathroom. We've been making lots of progress which you can see in the photos. We've been posting so many pictures that we went over the 500 photo limit in the first album. A second album named Bathroom Rebuild 2 has been created. Check it out.

Time: 1/2 year

Cost: O

Witch-gear: Purchases to make this project easier: Table saw, Tile saw, Paint sprayer

Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)

What I Learned: Plan Ahead.

SpokePOV

SpokePOV


Project: I finally put together a present from my sister. Lots of soldering.

Witch-gear: Solder station

Time: 3 hours

What I learned: Soldering station are really nice. If you have to solder lots of connections, a solder station is definitely the way to go.



Level of Difficulty: (What's with the saws?)