The Ball Machine

Heinz Sander – “The Ball Machine” (based on a song by Derek Hugger) | download mp3

Heinz’s Produktion Notes

This song is my own version of this video by Derek Hugger. This video is awesome. I love how the balls accelerate in such a natural, fluid way. In the video description, he says that he did all the animation by hand. I think that’s why, in the video, the same few animations are repeated over and over.

I decided to make my own audio-only version, and I expanded on the original song, adding key changes and new instruments.

This was also my first project in Ardour. It’s great software and I really like it. Most of it, anyway. I like how in LMMS, when you double-click on a region, the piano-roll editor pops up. In Ardour, I had to zoom in every time I wanted to edit a track; this got kind of annoying because I was doing it on my laptop and I didn’t have a mouse. However, the effects plugins in Ardour are easier to understand because they have graphical interfaces; in LMMS, they just present themselves as a bunch of knobs, and you can’t see what you’re doing.

All the instruments (except the drums) used Yoshimi, which I like. It’s pretty intuitive and comes with a lot of presets. I used modified presets for all of the instruments, actually, except for the Modulin sound at the end. For some reason, I just couldn’t get it to sound like Martin Molin’s modulin. I wasted a lot of time trying to get it to sound exactly right. In the end, I just gave up and made a sound that suited the mix. I also learned not to use the panic-button in the top-left corner of the Ardour screen, because it would reset the portamento on the Modulin sound. Not sure if this is a bug or not, but it was preety annoying.

For the drums, I used the Black Pearl drumkit from AVL Drumkits LV2. I liked it; it has a really good sound, though I added a pitch-shifter to the snare-drum to put it in a different sonic space. Turns out, I ended up tuning it to the key the song was in. Alan also added a compressor to it to make it more ‘punchy’.

I didn’t add any other compressors or limiters to the mix because I feel that a well-balanced mix can speak for itself, and doesn’t need any help from a compressor or limiter. I did add an equalizer to the master bus, though.

Alan’s Comments

I gave Heinz an old laptop a few months ago, and he very promptly installed Debian Linux on it. It was a proud day for his dad. (I can’t wait until he installs Gentoo someday!)

He did this song pretty much by himself, with very little guidance from me. I gave him some suggestions about mixing and mastering, but the finished product is very much his own. I like the changes he made to the song, especially the modulin sound.

The image was also done by Heinz. He took pictures of a ball resting on the chrome bars of cymbal stands, replaced the ball with an image of the full moon, added motion blur, and added the night sky and piano roll views in the background. All of this was done in the GIMP.

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Alan Sanderson

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