It’s almost time!

So, just updated the website with a new look and feel.  Why?  New album!  Ideamens’ new album “Trained When We’re Young” will be releasing soon, and we’re gearing up for a spiffy pre-order campaign that will also be a fundraiser to help us get a touring vehicle.  We’re still dealing with some back end stuff and prepping content to make it interesting, but the web theme has been sitting waiting to go live, and now seemed like a good time. 

Please try your best to break the site and tell us if there’s any problems that we should fix before we launch the campaign.  As usual we do all this stuff ourselves and occasionally some things slip under the radar.  Thank you all for your patience, and looking forward to hearing from you all about our new album!

ArtWork with us! Render your very own Gear Head Kid in Pov-Ray

Creating artwork is fun.  Choosing a medium is delightful.  It is primarily based on what you are capable of doing, what you know, what you are interested in learning, what you are interested in sharing.  I would like to share with you some of the doing, knowing and learning involved in the Ideamen art.  I bumped into a program – Pov-Ray – a long while back, downloaded it, stared at the screen, tried to read and understand the code shoved in my novice face, failed.  Hit “run” a few times, watched it render the sample scenes a few times, and put it on the back burner.  Waaaaay on the back burner.  None of that made any sense.  Well, some of it made sense, but it was too much to take in all at once.  Intriguing.  But way beyond my pay grade.

Fast-forward to after programming.  Learning a programming language is like learning most of the programming languages at once.  Once you grind your way through one or three, you can make sense of much of what you see in another.  I waded into programming languages initially doing html and javascript for my bands.  Really simple stuff, never really understood what I was doing but did it anyway.  Through a few good iterations of learning various languages and after learning lsl in Second Life I bumped into Pov-Ray again and finally understood it.  Like really understood it.  It was awesome!  It was like walking into an ocean and being able to breathe.  I want to share that with you.  Here’s the Wikepedia page about Pov-Ray.

This may not be for the feint of heart, but it ain’t rocket science.  First, you’re going to have to install a program.  Then grab some files.  Then click “run” like I did.  None of it will make any sense, but never mind that.  You’ll get this:

Gear Head Kid Rendered

You don’t have to do anything more than this.  Just render one image and giggle in joy because you did it.  It’s fun.  But if you dig, you can edit it.

First, download and install Pov-Ray:

The overview download page is here.

A quick link to the Windows .exe is here.

Then download the custom files that make it happen:

The zip file with everything you need is here.

A folder with everything including the zip file for those who want to see it, is here.

Save those in a place you can find them.  If you got the zip, the extracted folder is where your files are.  If you downloaded them individually, you know where they are.

Open Pov-Ray, poke around, and render a couple of the sample images just for kicks.  Then eventually click the “Open” button and open the poseGearHeadKid2016.pov file, and maybe the other ones if you want to look at them.  While you have the poseGearHeadKid2016.pov open and in focus, hit the “Run” button and the image will render.  If you’re courageous and want a larger image, you can fiddle with the render options (sizes and such) at left top just under the “New” and “Open” buttons.  I had the demo image set at 1280×1024, 5.4, AA 0.3.  Run it!  Click the “Run” button and it will render.  Now there will be an image in that folder called poseGearHeadKid2016.png.  That’s your rendered image.

The files included are:

gearHeadKid2016.inc – The meat of the Gear head kid.  This is where it’s defined.  There’s a lot of stuff in here and you shouldn’t have to edit any of it.  But look at it anyway because you should see the bones, for context.

myTextures.inc – Some textures used throughout.  Meh.

simpleShapes.inc – Some shape stuff.  Easier to create a template and use it later with a few simple variables.  The first thing in there is my SRT (that’s Scale, Rotate, Translate), the stuff that lets you move things around in my Pov-Ray files.  I use it everywhere because scaling, rotating and translating things are the things that you do to stuff, and that is the order they are meant to be done in.  Anytime you see this, the variables are scaling, rotating, and translating what you see.  The format is like this: SRT(<1,1,1>,<0,0,0>,<0,0,0>)

orientation_xyz_med.jpg – That’s an image that describes the Pov-Ray orientation system.  If you’re looking to move and rotate things using the SRT, this is a thing.  The second two variables in the SRT are rotation and translation.  If you’re unfamiliar with the format (and that’s totally ok), it goes <x,y,z>.  Zero is zero.  X is right and -left, Y is up and -down, Z is forward and -back.  Rotations are positive towards the arrows, negative against.

Pov-Ray orientation Image

Now you can play with it, break it, fix it, and do things you didn’t know you could do.  Or did.  There are so many things I could tell you about but won’t because this is not the medium.  There’s radiosity, cameras, lighting, texturing and the whole CSG thing (Constructive Solid Geometry) and unions and differences and all the stuff you’ll find when you dig down this hole.  But you don’t need to know that.  Yet.  Just run it!  Dig later.

Have fun and share with us if you render some images!

 

Digital Drama

Hi kids!  It’s been a while since we made a post.  We’ve been doing much of the same since the last post, recording and working on the new album.  It has been mostly boring stuff so we kind of kept it to ourselves.  To boot, I lost my camera charger so we haven’t been able to capture any quality video to share.  I’m gonna have to pick up a new one shortly because we will have a lot to share in the coming weeks.  The new album is done being mixed and will soon be sent off for mastering. 

To the meat of this entry, I have been working on album artwork.  I had a vision for the theme and wanted to dig up the “gear head kid” we used for the Interesting Times art, but couldn’t find the files.  I discovered them on my dinosaur computer I had way back then, and also realized that I didn’t back up a good chunk of the data on that old PC.  Soooo I started up the backup process, and somewhere in the middle of the backup, everything crashed.  My old pc got bricked, and at the very same time my backup drive crashed and became useless.  I panicked.  Somewhat calmly (I had to take a lot of deep breaths), but it was truly a feeling of sheer dread, as all of this was the cumulative data from something like 15-20ish years of my life all lost in one swift blow.  All the pictures, flyers, art, music, files and EVERYTHING.  All gone.  Including the couple few files I needed to do the album art.  What to do?  Call Stoof!

Stoof, or Stephan, as he is less commonly known, is a computer wizard.  He’s a friend of ours and a fan of Ideamen.  I did some looking up on the intertubes and found out that the hard drive I had was not the best, and had a very high failure rate.  It technically shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did, and my last push to drop several gigs of data onto it just pushed it past its capability.  I also learned that recovering the data on these things can be difficult, but not impossible.  So I had some hope.  I brought my PC and the drive to Stoof and he got to work on it.  He was able to recover the PC drives relatively easily, but the backup drive was a chore.  I got a new backup drive, this time I did a bit of research to make sure I got a reliable one, and we copied the files over to it.  A few days later, I heard from Stoof, and somehow he worked some insane computer wizardry magic and got the backup drive functional enough to copy the files over!  I still owe Stoof a good few more six packs to pay for it, as he simply refused to take my money.

So we didn’t lose all of the digital history of Ideamen and its predecessor soulvasq and everything else that was stored on those old pieces of machinery.  My dinosaur computer is now dead and in a scrapyard somewhere (may it rust in peace), and all of the data is now on my new backup drive.  Thanks Stoof!  No seriously, thanks mang, I would have cried tears of blood if I lost all of that stuff. 

Now I’m working on album art.  It’s a tedious project, as I’m using a wild and weird program called Pov-Ray to make it.  It’s the program I used to create the Interesting Times art, a 3D rendering program with no GUI (Graphical User Interface).  It’s all code, all the time.  You have to click the run button to see what you’ve been coding for hours.  I basically learned programming languages between Pov-Ray and Second Life, and boy is it fun.  Grueling, but fun.  I will likely be sharing some of the code from the Pov-Ray artwork in coming days, so for the brave and curious, download it and start tinkering!

Follow-ups: The Interesting Times art was designed from the ground up to be animated and used in videos, but we only did one thing with it.  Please watch this video.  There was one frame in that video (the one at the end where the camera passes in front of the projector) that took 6 days to render on my dinosaur computer.  The entire video took nearly 3 weeks to render.  Also if you’re into virtual worlds, check out Second life.  I’ve done a good deal of work in there, from volunteer work at Dreams to paid work at Virtual Ability Incorporated.  Those links will only work if you have Second Life installed.  In SL I am SamBivalent Spork, a giant ant.  Yep.  I’m a giant ant.

–Ideamen Dave

Not quite weekly news – January 2015 – A recording session

Hey it’s been a while.  We really honestly haven’t been doing mush other than recording a new album.  We have thus far not considered it to be so very newsworthy, but at the same time, why not?  So here’s a little peek into the IdeaBasement where most of the doing gets done.

What mark wanted to say in that video but didn’t get the chance to – is that Ideamen has a couple few shows lining up.  We can officially announce this one:

Friday March 27th 2015 at Brauerhouse

1000 N Rohlwing Rd Suite 13, Lombard, Illinois

With Downtown Brown and She Likes Todd

Flyer for Brauer House show
Flyer for Brauer House show

Upcoming Shows Promotion

Eyy we have a couple shows coming up – Two to be exact.  If you come to both, you get free stuff!  The shows are as follows:

07-11-2014 at Reggies Rock Club in Chicago

08-22-2014 at Double Door in Chicago

If you make it to both shows (registration will be available at our merch table), we’ll give you the free stuff at the second show.  You’ll have the choice of a CD or T-Shirt AND a lighter or a pin.  Free stuff and choices!

Please note that if you don’t register at the first show, we’ll get all confused and not know what to do when you go to the second show.  So register at the Reggies show, and when you show up at the Double Door show, we’ll have you on our list and give you stuff.

More info about the shows available in the Shows pages

Thanks for being awesome!

You’re awesome.

Every now and again we get into a bit of cumulative band malaise that makes us wonder why we do what we do.  And then there’s you.  You – our fans and friends – constantly offer us reminders of why we do what we do.  A handful of Ideamen were at the DFD show in Joliet.  We were quite surprised at the number of Ideamen shirts we saw there, and we only knew most of the people in them.  Thanks for representing, that means a lot to us. 

The interrelationship between DFD/Polkadot and Ideamen has been a wonderful bonus, as fans of both bands mix and overlap and share with each other.  Tim sold a lot of Ideamen CD’s while he was out on the road with DFD.  Thanks to all the folks that bought them, special thanks to Izzy Peter Frehley for your post on The Facebook about your initial response to Schemata.  Speaking of The Facebook – thanks to everyone for making a visit to our page a pleasant experience.  We feel Like liked.

So, in this brief moment of introspection – know that YOU are really the driving force behind Ideamen.  Your passion for Ideamen is greater than ours, is bigger than us, has grown into a life of it’s own and that big giant thing goads us on into continuing to do what we do.  You’ve turned us from a teensy local band into something of an institution (if we may be so bold).  You’ve taken us all over the country and shown us hospitality and good times all around.  Some of you even let us use your showers, beds, floors and kitchens.  All of you are awesome.  Thanks.

A wee update

Hello folks!  Ideamen has taken a little break while Tim is on the road with Dog Fashion Disco.  We’re working on a new album, there’s a handful of rough tracks – can’t wait to hide them from you until we can share them with you.  Tonight Tim has a Chicago area show with DFD, we’re going.

I guess I fixed the van just in time.  She started spilling coolant like a faucet last week, and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  It was a little scary, it soooo looked like it was coming right out of the engine block.  Turned out to be the water pump.  I broke down and decided to do it myself, much to the chagrin of my battered and cut up hands.  It took removing the alternator, the AC compressor, and the bracket that holds them both on – just to SEE the water pump.

The IdeaVan apart
The engine with all kinds of stuff missing

 

The IdeaVan with new parts
New water pump and thermostat installed

It’s done now, and she doesn’t leak any more.  I’m going to Joliet to see DFD now.  See you there!

 

Not quite weekly news 04/19 – 05/10/2014

Weekly news my ar….  oh hi!.  Not a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks.  Not stuff you want to hear about at least.  But some stuff did happen (cueue flashback music)

Mark and Christine got a dog!  Her name is Gemma, and she’s adorable.  She was sort of rescued from the euthanasia farm – she’s got a messed up snout, one lung, and a bit of a coughing problem.  But she’s adorable.

We cleaned and reorganized the practice space.  It needed it pretty bad.  It’s much nicer now.

Phil Miller, Jacki and Dave stopped by James’ place in Chicago for Courtney’s birthday party.  Kelly and Stoof were there as well.  Our fans are friends with each other, we bring people together 😀

We particularly enjoyed the show at The 5th Quarter in Indianapolis IN on Saturday.  All the bands were great, the crowd was fun and plentiful, and there was face painting.  Thanks to all y’alls that made that happen.

This week with Ideamen 04/13-19/2014

Hey!  We’re going to try (try harder!)  to feed the site with at least a weekly update on how things are going in the world of Ideamen.  We’re doing well.  Thank you very much.

Hah!  Just kidding, that’s not all.  We had a blast at the JJ Kelleys show with I Decline and Team Hoss.  The sound was fantastic, so fantastic in fact that we performed really well.  So well that we might post a video of the show in it’s entirety (we got video of most of our performance).  Keep an eye out for that.

The IdeaVan hitch has been fixed!  Thanks to the Millers for their assist.  It got us to the Kelleys show and it didn’t fall off yet.  Video of that coming soon as well.

Mark is getting a new dog!  Cute dog pics are on their way.

All that said…  there’s a lot of stuff on the way.  Time to get to work!  See you next week.