working in digital video, music production or Web design, most of us have
at some time felt overly cloistered in our studios, far removed from friends
... and sunlight. Once upon a time, Greg Weber was one of those people::
magazine, Jan/Feb 02 issue, p.79
|After a five-year stint touring as the frontman for an alternative rock band, Weber turned his attentions to electronic music. He moved into a Boston warehouse and built up a studio that completely overtook his bedroom. He spent his days and nights experimenting with sound design technologies, and soon began his first solo live electronic music performances. For visual impact, he integrated his electronic drumkit and digital lighting. But something was missing. During a party in his warehouse, he would discover the missing link. "A friend of a friend came by with a video projector," Weber recalls, "and - boom! - I saw the connection. Though the VJ had never heard my music before, he was mixing real-time, almost adding a story line.||Here, in his own words, Weber describes the Eklektro Vehicle and exactly how he has it stocked with gear. I chose a '78 GMC Motorhome because of its modest size, air-ride suspension and incognito retro styling. Before anything, I overhauled the stock 12 volt system so I could work for hours off of battery power alone. I added four Trojan T105 deep cycle batteries, joined by 4/0 gauge copper cable to a Statpower 1800 watt sine wave 110v inverter. The system utilizes any of three discrete charge sources: the engine's alternator, a 6000 watt Onan generator, or the two 120 watt solar panels. The latter really paid off last summer when gas hit $2 a gallon.Plugged into the inverter is an American DJ PC-100 8-outlet switchable power supply (0). Since power strips and wallwarts will draw amperage even when the components are turned off, this unit allows me to decide which||and is in this respect quite a revolutionary instrument. I can plug in a kick pedal and hammer out real-time breakbeats, I can also set up selected HPD pads to trigger video clips via MIDI in VidVox Prophet software. In addition to a variety of softsynths and samplers, my musical equipment consists of a Yamaha AN1x synthesizer (6), two Boss/Roland SE-70 multi-effects (7), an Ensoniq DP-4 effects (8, hidden under mixer), a DBX DDP compressor (8b), a Focusrite Voicebox (8c), Midiman MIXIM (8d), a Behringer 1604a submixer (not pictured) and a Mackie 1604VLZ Pro mixer (9) for final output to a Tascam DA-P1 portable DAT (9b). I use a pair of AudioTechnica 4050 condensor mics (10) for my vocals, Djembe and other acoustic instruments. Rounding out my audio studio, this Peavey PC1600 MIDI faderbox (11), also works well for real-time video control.|
|::I resolved myself to the life of a novelist. Long hours in front of the computer, but summer at the beach, winter in the desert - a digital land-pirate::|
|From then on, my goal was to perform music and video at the same time." He also wanted to try to merge two seemingly opposing aspects of his life: a love of travel, and a consuming need for time in the studio. When Weber heard that a new firewire PC card would soon be available for PowerBooks, it got his wheels spinning. Literally. And it got him out of the warehouse and onto the open road. Weber decided to outfit an RV studio that could serve as living space, writing, editing, rehearsal and production environment while he explored a nomadic existence. "I resolved myself to the life of a novelist," he recalls, "long hours in front of the computer, but summer at the beach, winter in the desert, working on a solo album behind tinted glass - a digital land-pirate." Sixty thousand miles and three years later, Greg is nearing completion of a DVD-ROM under the project name Eklektro. He has recently launched Eklektro.net to serve as a hub for electronic artists who seek to perform live improvisational jams. A "vehicle" in every sense of the word, the RV has transported him to Eklektro performances at Burning Man, The Coachella Festival, as well as scores of underground gatherings. He's played electronic drums alongside sitarist Rik Sharaj in the Mojave Desert and mixed video over Trance heavies X-Dream at the Morocco 2001 Festival. By the way, for that last one, he left the RV on home soil.||
get power, for best power conservation. For processor power, I use two
"Pismo" Powerbook G3/500s (1) with 640 RAM and 20 gig HDs each.
I dedicate one to video and another to audio. (Of course, a cheaper desktop
PowerMac G4 would generally outperform a PowerBook, but it consumes about
five times as much electricity!) A Planar 15" LCD display (2) easily
plugs into either of the laptops, for dual desktop display. The Firewire
output feeds my Sony DCR-PC100 (3), which features a surprisingly accurate
mini-LCD display. From here, the signal gets kicked to Roland V5 video
mixer (4), which incorporates MIDI, and seemed an obvious choice for a
VJ who is also a musician. I project my live video using an InFocus LP340
(not pictured) and matching Boxlight CDM455 (not pictured), 1300 lumens
each. This is essentially the same projector from different companies.
At under seven pounds each, I can fit a pair of them and a pair of PowerBooks
in an airplane's overhead bin... instant mobile VJ! For live performance
hard drive space, I have an MCE Xcaret expansion bay 20 gig inside one
of the Powerbooks, and an OWC Elite 911 Firewire enclosure with IBM Deskstar
60 gig (all hard drives hidden from view behind the laptops). In the studio
I have two more OWC/Deskstars, as well as two ADS Pyro enclosures with
Maxtor Diamondmax 60 gigs for backup.
And finally, an old Opcode Midiport MIDI interface (11b), and two MOTU pieces, a Micro Express USB MIDI interface (11c) and an 828 Firewire audio interface (11d). This last piece is really ground-breaking technology circa April 2001. For the first time, a laptop computer can input and output multi-track audio full quality without a cumbersome and expensive PCI expansion chassis. All of the above is stored and secured on a three-tiered ergonomic rack I built over where the RV's dining table came stock. This allows me to work standing up, which is important in a space as confining as a motorhome. Finally, my JBL Eon speaker system (12) and subwoofers allow me to monitor full volume mixes... and even kick a renegade party or two. Check out Weber's Web site at www.eklektro.net.