Archive for Scarehouse

The ScareHouse Basement Podcast Episode

Posted in Creativity, Scarehouse with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2013 by deliriumdog

One of my best excuses for not producing much musical content this year is my involvement in the creation of The ScareHouse’s new Basement attraction.

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It should be no secret to those of you who’ve read either of my blogs (here and Tumblr) the past couple years that I have developed a strong fascination with immersive theater. When Scott Simmons (Creative Director, ScareHouse) told me that they were thinking about making a more personal, immersive haunt experience this year I told him I was all-in. Opportunities to work on a project like this during the birth stages one are not common.

The ScareHouse management did not want to sap the main haunt of its talented design team, so I had the chance to jump in and participate in the creation side beyond my usual role as sound guy. After attending and analyzing many immersive shows over the past couple years, the time had come to put some of my learnings into practice. I found myself driving, flying, and phoning into Pittsburgh most weekends over the Summer and writing long, list-filled emails to the point where I’m sure Team Scarehouse would cringe every time they saw my name in their inbox. We would continuously challenge and test each other’s ideas and the result, I think, was pretty far from what any of us envisioned at the start. The Basement turned out to be a hit, but none of us knew exactly how people would respond to it until we opened the doors in late September.

Hosting this podcast episode gave me a chance to document the process that led up to opening day as well as capture some of the magical chemistry of the cast one night before the doors opened. I’m happy with how it came together with one caveat: I never had the chance to interview Scott Sudzina who managed the haunt. He played a major role in making it happen. My bad for not finding time to interview him for the show.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with next year. Until then, this puts a nice capper on the first chapter of Basement history.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you know where to find me here and on the the socialwebs.
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Follow Glenn Ricci / Delirium Dog on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Roll Your Own Artist Residency

Posted in Creativity, Life Hacks, Music Making, Scarehouse, Sound Design with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2013 by deliriumdog

I’m spending this week at The Scarehouse to focus on music, sound, video, and immersive environments. Sure, in this networked world, I could pretty much just phone it all in from my home in Baltimore, but there is a lot to be gained from being away from home and its many distractions to focus in on just one thing. Even though I’ve arranged my work week so I can be home a full three days every week, there are still many shiny things competing for my attention. Housework. Errands. PS3. Skyrim (yes, I just started playing it a couple weeks ago). Drinks with friends. I have no idea how those of you with kids in the mix get anything done at all!

In the middle of my DIY artist residency at #Scarehouse. #music #sound #immersion #haunted

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Photo: My little setup this week at ScareHouse.

In all that, I may at most get a few hours a week for the sort of “deep dive” that I require to create something of quality. Also, while my wife provides a great sounding board for ideas, it’s good to get feedback from others and give her ears a break. What I desperately needed was a significant chunk of time removed from my usual orbit to immerse myself in sound and the flow of creative process.

This all may seem obvious, but how often do we really do it? Take a week off just for our art!? Can’t we squeeze it in between all the other things? Sure, but we do that because we have to, not because it’s optimal. Far from it. 

This is roughly the third time I’ve done this and it’s always resulted in something worthwhile. I may not have ended up with single complete product, but I usually end up with a lot of little ideas that I can pick up later during less inspired moments and work to the finish. When I did this in 2010, I ended up with half the ideas and a lot of video footage for the FEVER BRAIN BATTERY album. This time, I’m chopping up and remixing recordings from the 1920’s, marrying them with new beats and sounds, and seeing what happens. It loosely relates to new (and currently secret) projects happening at The Scarehouse, so some of the output will end up there. As I’m working, I occasionally take off my headphones, crank up the monitors, and see how people react. Instant feedback! I’ve also been walking around the haunt, eyeing up the new spaces and getting a sense of what might play well in there. The ScareHouse set designers are pretty brilliant, so I’m not wanting for inspiration.

Okay, so you may not have access to a large haunted attraction–and even if you did, it might not be your ideal site for an artist residency. But try this: close your eyes and picture what, for you, would be the ideal mobile creative work environment. Decide what your most essential tools are for making your art, and picture them in this space. Maybe your tools are so large that you need a special studio, in which case your options are pretty well narrowed down for you. But maybe you have a friend or relative in another state with a really cool basement or back porch. And maybe they work all day and don’t mind giving you the run of the place. Or maybe they’re around just enough to check in and give you feedback. That doesn’t sound ideal? Scrap that plan and start over. Maybe you need to put aside the time and money to go to an actual workshop/retreat with an instructor and other students to inspire you. But I believe that it’s possible to create an atmosphere from whatever is at hand and whomever you know. (If you’re a creative person who does not know any creative friends, you definitely need to find some new friends!) Once you’re done visualizing your ideal temporary work space, surrounded by the right people (or no people at all) think about where and how to make that happen.

It’s not going to happen on its own. While I’m sure they’re happy to have me at ScareHouse, I invited myself for the week. They no longer think it strange that I may want to show up, occupy a large table with my stuff and pace around listening, tweaking, taking photos, shooting video, staring out the window, and asking all sorts of random questions. Whatever it is you need to do to create–you want that to be totally normal behavior during your retreat.

It’s also important to have some goals. And it’s just as important that you are able to abandon those goals if better, more urgent ones, come along. I have a long list of goals, some of which cannot be finished in a week. As long as I’ve made progress on any of them, and maybe even achieved one of them, then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something. Usually it’s the new, surprising opportunities that come along during the retreat that you end up being glad for.

Do not expect everything to work out beautifully during your first DIY residency. In 2010, the space I chose for my impromptu “studio” turned out be less than optimal. I also brought way too much stuff, which bogged me down and made me feel sad that I was not using it all. Even still, I was able to readjust and lots of good things came out of that week. When I came home, I had a new perspective on how to improve my home studio as well. The work I started that week definitely would not have existed if I had not thrown myself into that new environment.

Even if the work you create ends up getting scrapped, it’s not so much about the product. It’s about getting the opportunity to focus on something you love doing and fanning the creative embers. That is never a bad thing.

One last tip: be careful about reentry. Returning to the day-to-day grind after being so unfettered can be downright painful. Be nice to yourself and others, and understand that whatever you’re doing is necessary so that you can eventually return to your creative space.  

I’m curious: have any of you done this? Let me know in comments or elsewhere on the social webs (see below) how you have made time and space to make your art.

Follow Glenn Ricci / Delirium Dog on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Silent Night, ScareHouse Night

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by deliriumdog

Warning: No Children Should See This!!

This is the second of two videos we shot on a warm Summer day to promote a Christmas-themed haunted attraction that will run through the Fall. Make sense? No? Good.

As before, the performers you see are actually lip-syncing to scratch tracks recorded by my wife and I. Then we hauled them upstairs after the shoot to capture their voices in small groups to get that choir-like sound. The final mixed track synced up magically with their creepily vacant, animatronic performance. Why? Because if you wish for something with all your heart, it must come true.

It also helped that the guide mix that they lip-synced and sang to had a prominent drum track to keep everyone together. Without it, it the organ alone was difficult for them to sing to in unison. Adding drums tightened things up considerably. Removed for the final mix, nobody’s the wiser. Except you, because you read this.

The last song we twisted was a fairly safe, secular holiday piece, and it received very little in the way of blowback. This take on the more sacred Silent Night…also has not produced any controversy that I know of. Obviously, we’re not trying hard enough.

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‘Tis the Season to be Creepy

Posted in Music, Music Making, Scarehouse with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by deliriumdog

Please make sure that no children are in viewing range or earshot of the video below.

This was a fun project for me because it was driven by the music, which means I was involved early in the process. The concept for this new ScareHouse trailer was that we’d have a creepy chorus (made up of ScareHouse regulars) sing a twisted version of a classic holiday tune followed by your favorite clown, Creepo, in a Santa suit. Creepo is a pretty frightening dude no matter what, but the Santa suit raises it to a new, inexplicable level.

I knew right away that keeping it simple (good advice that I often ignore) was clearly the best way to go. Anything getting in the way of the fact that they are singing “Deck The Halls” with different lyrics could only hurt the message. I also knew that the chorus would have to learn and perform the music in a very short period of time–like thirty minutes while they were being costumed. So I stuck with a simple piano arrangement and two-ish part harmonies with the basses and sopranos branching out to hit a couple notes in their specific ranges.

The lyrics, while few, did not come easy. Five of us bouncing emails around finally arrived at two rhymed couplets that told the story, fit the melody, and also rhymed.

It had to all be “musically correct,” which is to say that I needed to put it down in actual notation that a music reader would understand. Years of using the far-superior piano roll method of composition has made regular notation seem alien to me. Those little black dots now feel like a quaint and arcane way of doing things, but it all came back to me pretty quickly. Logic Pro made it easy to create and print out some nice readable sheet music for the chorus–one reason I still compose in Logic rather than Live.

During the video shoot, the chorus lip-synced to a scratch track sung by my wife and I. There were many takes from many camera angles, so the chorus had a chance to mouth the words over and over. Afterwards, we recorded them in two’s singing over the scratch tracks. The voices of my wife and I were mixed in with the eight chorus members and just a wee bit of editing in post was needed to clarify some of the diction.

I haven’t noticed yet anyone getting angry about this form of blasphemy, but “Deck The Halls” is a pretty secular tune to begin with. Maybe that will come once we mutate a more sacred song.

As @ScareHouseScott recently tweeted, “I wonder if this will still be funny when I’m in hell.”

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Follow DD on Twitter and Facebook.

Death to the Balloons

Posted in Delirium Dog, Music, Scarehouse, Video with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by deliriumdog

I’ll explain this more in a separate post. Right now I’ll just say that I dropped $80 in neon balloons on this video, so the least you can do is watch it. If you click through to YouTube, you can choose to view it in glorious hi-rez. While you’re there, hit thumbs up and leave a pithy comment. Your support is greatly, hugely appreciated.

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