Thursday, December 01, 2005


Now that the whole birth thing is behind us and our family is back on track with the (ab)normal daily challenges, I thought I would get back on track with a little gear photography showing off some of my ghetto rig...hopefully I can get some pic's of Jeremy's exellent setup soon!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Welcome Nico Maria

We would like to announce the birth of our newest addition:

Nico Maria Kastbauer

We had a succesful and happy home birth/ water birth with the help of Rachael Mcgraw and Aly Folin of Riversong Midwifery.

For those of you in the home audience keeping track:
Wednesday November 3rd, 12:14AM
7 pounds 2 ounces
19 3/4 inches

We look forward to sharing out experiences and seeing y'all soon!

Please visit NicoMaria

Be sure to visit her big sis too: ThoraRuth

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hang in There

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hack the Cam


I have been wanting a digital video camera for some time. I've been getting by with soundless low-quality movies on my digital camera for 3 years now, but have been waiting for flash based camcorders to hit the market fully, as I've not bee a fan of storage with moving parts since my experiences with the inconsistencies of ADAT audio tape recorders in the past.

I stumbled onto this forum awhile back and have been foloowing it for quite some time, although not a deep code monkey...I was able to implement some of the finer points of the modifications and have successfully gotten video off the CVS one-time-use "diposable" video camcorder. After soldering a few wires to the PCB for a USB interface, a little software implementation, I was off and running recording and downloading video to my home computer with no problem.

Many thanks to the CameraHacking Community for all the tech speak and dedication.

This comes just in time, as my family is poised to add a new member to our family soon...expect snippets of video goodness!

an iPod earbud up to the microphone makes an awesome instant music video, and totally captures a synergistic moment for me, on the way home.

Friday, September 09, 2005

How to record a Tractor without Really Trying

Recently found myself in the woods when I spotted the rare 1940's International Harvester Tractor making it self useful.

Millionaire Marv was operating the vintage beast in a most deft manner due to the fact that it has an accelerator pedal FOR EACH WHEEL.
Drive By/ Bucket Dump

It was almost like dancing the way he was able to guide it through it's tasks with the utmost gracefullness while my audio rig sat idly by soaking up every moment through it's synthetic ear-drum.

At the end of the session, I left wondering what it would take to realistically simulate JUST the sound aspects of this's what I came up with:

1. Independant wheel traction sounds panned stereo wide that correspond to the movement/turning of the tractor.

2. The engine has a idle pitch that changes based on the acceleration, but there is also the sputtering of the muffler that could be seperated from the engine pitch and modeled and randomized to react differently under different situations. This would add a level of diversity to the sound of the engine that you wouldnt get in a typical loop.
Engine Loop
Acceleration Ramp Up

3. These was this loud high end fand belt wheezing on the right front side of the tractor that could be panned and acceleration pitched accordingly.

4. The bucket on the front end is hydraulic based and run off a compressor (i think?) which makes a hiss of sorts, along with various rattlings of the bucket at varios points that could be triggered intermittently when raising or lowering.

5. The exhaust stack at has this great metal flapper on top of it that bounces up and down when idling/ exhasting and makes a great noise that could be modeled and randomized to correspond with the rpm of the engine/ movement.

6. The chair that you sit on has a giant spring under it...which squaeks intermittently.

Am I overthinking this? ;)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Gamers Manifesto

Thought Provoking

My Favorite #1 Excerpt:
Give us a genre of game we've never seen before. Something that's not an FPS or an RPG or Madden NFL or...

Why isn't a there a spy game where we actually get to be a real spy rather than a hallway-roving kill machine? You know, where we actually have to talk to contacts and extract information and tap phones and piece together clues, a game full of exotic locales and deception and backstabbing and subplots? A game where a gun is used as often as a real spy would use it (that is, almost never)?

Where's the game where we're a castaway on a deserted island and the object of the game is to find food and clean water and build a shelter, a game where we can play for one month or six months, because whether or not we get rescued is randomized? Where every time we restart we get a different island with different wildlife and vegetation and water sources?

Where's the game where we play a salty Southern lawyer who has to piece together evidence to exonerate a black man falsely accused of murder, breaking down witnesses and spotting inconsistencies in testimony?

Half of the gamers are now over age 18, and almost a quarter are over age 50. Where are the games for the old-timers? Where's the game where we get to play as Dr. House and diagnose mysterious illnesses while crushing the patient's spirit with cruel insults? Where's the game where we're a pre-op transsexual where the object of the game is to gather enough money to complete the operation?

Considering how broad the gaming market is now, there is a remarkably narrow range of games out there. Could this be what the news wires were talking about last year when they spoke of a "crisis of creativity" in gaming?

Chances of that happening...

See item #1. If the new consoles are built with a graphics-first mentality, how easy is it going to be to make games that stretch the boundaries of game logic and player freedom? And if so, can we at least have our damned adventure games back?

But there's another, less-obvious side of that muffin: if a machine is so "advanced" it can draw a photo-realistic city in the background of every level, that only means that developers now must to hire somebody to render that photorealistic city instead of pasting on a bit of flat, blurred wallpaper. That means game development costs are skyrocketing and that leads to the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster syndrome. Bigger investments means developers must "play it safe" for fear of losing their ass. And that means fewer and fewer oddball "niche" games like those mentioned above and more quickie knock-offs based on movies.

As a thrill seeker with a penchant for the exotic in life, i'm waiting for the David Lynch, Lars Von Trier, David Cronenberg, generally strange innovator of video games...Bring it On!

Also, John Cage's Xbox

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Here's a few pics from a recent audio capture session I did up in the North woods of Wisconsin. It was a mostly pleasant day, although the birds were rather bothersome background noise wise.
I spent a fair amount of time assembling my tools and then went to it, what follows is a brief synopsis of what I got.

Morning Rise.

Tools of the Trade: Trusty PowerBook, Rode NTG-2, Sennheiser HD-285, and various implements of noise making.

How to mic a pile of brush: Position stand away from possible falling limbs, press record, jump up and down, bonus points for falling through brush and into squirrel nest.
Coincidentally, now I know how they came up with sound of Georges beard growing in the Yellow Submarine!

Found this beauty of a log, mic'd it up and proceeded to chop/hack/slice/swing/saw it into oblivion. I leave behind the screams of treebark and the scars of my torture.

Nothing fancy, yo heave ho. The rocks and leaves make for an added level of detail, along with the dramatic flinging of debris.

Not since I was a wee lad have I had cause to bust out the old bow and arrow, was good to get it out and put it through it's paces. Culled 3 different sounds out of this session: bow release, impact, and debris. The mossy stump proved the perfect surface for eliciting a fine impact thud and debris scatter.

Mucky Muck, indeed! The sound of squishy-ness!

I love the sound of wet grass in the morning.

Like dry sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.

Wet sand has a bit more squish to it than you'd think, but when comparing the 2 types , wet sand is a bit crunchier,

Still have a fair amount of work to do whittling these down into a suitable library to work with, but the raw material for exciting noise adventures is there.

Next time, water sounds and other foresty goodness.
Stay Tuned

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Quick Willie

Folks interested in checking out some partial Lab meanderings in Minneapolis will want to stop by the Southern Theater for this event featuring LCL Drummer and Willie August Project Co-Conspiritor Jeremy Hauer. (I hear there may be some pre-recorded LCL used as interludes for those of you interested in that angle)

Expect Greatness!

Southern Theater presents
by Ben Siems
An evening of new music, dance, and improvisational lighting design. Featured performers will include: Ben Siems on guitar and cello; The Willie August Project's Jeremy Hauer; legendary composer-improviser Carei Thomas; from New York, cellist-composer-choreographer Malina Rauschenfels; dancer-choreographer Jennifer Mack; and award-winning lighting designer Jeff Bartlett.

Feb. 28 and Mar. 1, 7:30 p.m.
pre-concert talks by Siems, Thomas and Rauschenfels at 7 p.m. both nights

TIX: $14 general;$10 student/senior
For reservations, call the Southern Theater at 612-340-1725, or visit For more information visit the NEWS section of this web site.

Monday, January 31, 2005

So This is the New Year

Just a quick update on the Valandil project, there's a Audio Demo Reel up that highlights the work of the Music and Sound Team. LCL provided the Sword/Armor&Impact/Arrow sounds culled from the previos posts audio capture sessions. Progress is moving slowly along, but the team is top notch!

Progress on the Playful Minds projects are going good, I hope to have examples up on the Demo Reel soon!

Started working with midi sound effects and music for e6. Ahh the fascinating world of non-standard format types and crap-tacular audio quality. Brilliant!

The band continues on the backburner...with high hopes for making a return to further experiments this year. Julie came up with a wild concept that would be good to excercise in the construct of our performances. She's a deep thinker, good to have her by my side. Magnificent!

Thora has a mad repetior at her command these days including, but not limited to: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Mary had a Little Lamb, ABCD's, Jingle Bells/Rudolph medly (one horse open sleigh tonight!), and Twinkle Twinkle...not to mention the free form ono freakout style vocal meanderings that spontaneusly erupt from the depths of her soul. Tremendous!

Here's the cutest pic of late!