Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Still Alive

Post title is in tribute to having seen Jonathan Coulton in concert recently, with of course Paul and Storm as his openers. They all put on a fantastically funny show, and the whole time I kept seeing SpiffWorld's videos in my head to the songs as they were being performed live. Particularly this one (which is a Paul and Storm):

Quick post. I have a few projects on my plate, mostly voiceover stuff that I said I'd do and got pushed to the side while I was sick and had no voice. (I haven't forgotten!) Still have that lingering "I'm going to last for weeks!" cough, but I really should get those recordings done before I leave on holiday.

Hope everyone enjoyed the lag and crash fest that was patch day. The other guilds on my server decided not to even try the 25 man stuff tonight, so we ended up with server first kills of Marrowgar (we think) and Deathwhisper. Woot. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Grind (That Bar)", gear, and guesting

New vid came out Sunday!

So, here's the story behind this one. Nyhm wrote the lyrics to this and recorded it *months* ago. In terms of how long the typical Mad Cow project takes from recording to completion, this is far and away the longest. I actually used the song as an excuse to go visit my partner in machinima infamy and his family, but this time I brought my recording setup. See, Nyhm records most of his vocals on a vent mic. As his audio engineer, this drives me *nuts*. I wanted to see how it sounded if I got his vocals recorded into a slightly better setup. This is an inexpensive solution that has worked for me, and is the same setup I used to record all my own vocals up until this one. I finally picked up a new mic this summer, a real nice fancy one, and my vocals for Grind were recorded with that. First, more about the vid, then I'll get into a spiel on equipment and software since folks always have questions about what we use.

As I was saying before I got sidetracked, this was recorded months ago. The files were all on my laptop, and I said I'd take care of the mixing and mastering, getting things synced and lined up properly, and I'd get the song back to him. Nyhm can be a very intense worker when he gets hit by the creative muse, and generally focuses on that one project until he gets it done (or until he gets bored if it just isn't working for some reason). Well, before I got around to editing the song, Nyhm decided it was time to do that book he'd always wanted to do. I won't deny that I was slacking on editing, and his focus on another project made it a lot easier to put "Grind That Bar" on the back burner. (While the official name is "Grind", there's also a WoW machinima series called "The Grind", and my internal name for the song was "Grind That Bar", so I'm going to refer to it as such in this post to distinguish it from other prior works.) Fast forward to last Friday. Nyhm sends me an email. "So I am feeling a creative void forming. VERY tempted to make a new wow vid this weekend." I got my butt in gear, recorded my vocals again, sent him a draft to work on while I mixed the final version, and (since I work on Saturdays) finished up the final mix on Sunday evening. We were done with our respective parts within an hour of each other, which was quite convenient and unplanned.

The reviews on this one have been a bit mixed, so I think I need to give a bit of context so that the video is appreciated properly. This video isn't so much a WoW visualization of the lyrics as a parody of the original video from Busta Rhymes, "Break Ya Neck". I recommend watching that vid before watching our spoof since the video will make a lot more sense.


My first 'real' mic was an Audio-Technica ATR30 dynamic mic. It's very sturdy, very resilient, and perfectly functional for very basic recording. I also used to use an M-Audio AudioBuddy preamp. The problem was that it had only mic level output, and my computer doesn't have a mic in, only a line in. I needed something to boost the signal coming out of the AudioBuddy, and the only device I found was this little plastic USB dongle called an iMic. It's the same thing I used for my headset for talking on Vent, and is not what one would call top of the line hardware. But it worked, more or less, especially for just playing around.

My new setup is sure to last me a fair bit longer. I splurged on a nice shiny new mic: a Rode NT1A condenser. And, of course, a matching silver pop screen to replace the makeshift "coat hanger and panty hose" pop filter I'd been using. I also simplified my signal chain by getting a firewire preamp (PreSonus Firebox) so the sound will go from mic to preamp to computer.

The other nice thing about getting that preamp is that it came with Cubase LE. Now, I know a lot of folks use and love Audacity. I use it myself a lot, but there's no instruction manual, really. So when I had issues like, "Why aren't my headphones monitoring in real time," there wasn't an easy way to troubleshoot. Also, I had serious issues getting it to do something as basic as reverb. I installed a couple of VSTs, but the previews weren't working, and the reverb wouldn't process, and ugh. Using the NT1A, the Firebox, and Cubase, it became much easier to get things working properly. No question of compatibility or whether there was a bad link in the chain or if I just needed to restart my software. Eventually I'll be upgrading to the pro version of Cubase, but for my purposes now, the limited edition is working great.

I imagine a number of folks reading this blog have heard of Decision (old channel), a WoW parody rapper and former member of the now defunct A6 which included Nyhm, Gigi, and the DruidBoyz. Well, Decision does occasional broadcasts on BlogTV, where he broadcasts live video, and various folks sign in and chat via text, ask questions, and so on. He tweets when he's broadcasting, and last night I had about half an hour before raid so I decided to stop in. I sign in as a guest, and thought I'd be all clever and such. For context, Decision and I met in person at BlizzCon, and every time he or Bry (his oh so lovely girlfriend) saw me, they'd go nice and loudly, "OMG, are you the REAL Summergale???" So of course when I log in as a guest, I have to give him the same treatment. "OMG are you the real Decision??" He doesn't catch the joke.

Him, on camera: "Um, yes, I am the real Decision..."
Me, in text chat: "Sorry, inside joke, this is Summergale."

It hadn't occurred to me that other people might claim to be me, which apparently happens about once a show. My comment is received with a request for proof from Decision and other viewers commenting oh so cleverly, "Hah, yeah, I'm Nyhm." "hurr hurr, I'm Summer too!" So Decision says to the camera, "If you are the real Summergale, I think you should call me, like right now." (We'd exchanged cell numbers at BlizzCon to keep track of each other.)

Him (voice): "Phone's not ringing, I don't hear it. It'd be funny if that actually was her."

Then I finish digging my cell out of my purse. Locate Deci's number in my contact list.

Me (text): "Ring ring."

The look on his face when his cell actually started ringing was priceless. He even showed the camera the face of his phone where it showed "Summergale" calling. (Yes, he put me in his contact list as Summergale.) So, I got to guest star on Decision's blogTV show for a bit as a call-in and feel all famous when everyone was impressed that it really was me.

Wow, this post got waaaaay too long. Maybe I should post more frequently...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nyhm's new book!

Well folks, after an intense past few days, the book is finished!

If you liked Shel Silverstein's work or Prelutsky's New Kid On The Block, growing up, you should check this out. It's a pretty awesome looking book, I must say. Nyhm's always had a way with words as evidenced by his hysterical lyrics in all the parody stuff, and now he's turned his talent to writing children's poetry. All the poems and drawings are done by him, and he did it all in something like 3 months. When the boy focuses, he can churn it out like nobody's business.

You can order from Lulu, and if you use the promo code "LULUBOOK", you get a 10% discount from now until September 30th. If you don't want to get the hardcover but still want to read the book, Lulu also offers a digital download for a fraction of the price.

There are a few of these drawings that I totally want to put on T-shirts. The dude on the cover is adorable, and there's one called "Up" that's fantastic. I might have to check into putting a Cafe Press store together...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pimping Cranius, Miracula, and Felicia Day

Cranius has released an album! He blogged about making of, and you can even buy the album off Amazon! (MP3 format = instant gratification.) I was fortunate enough to hear preview versions of "Happy Place" and "Get My Main" before they were published, and I'm thrilled he's finally released them to the public and I can rave about them. "Happy Place" has been on my playlist for months and I adore it.

If you read Cranius's blog, you may note that the album art was done by our very own Miracula, aka Roz Terrill, the woman who did my amazingly awesome troll-Summergale painting:

You can see a larger version on her website (along with more of her incredible artwork), and there are still some prints left for purchase. Limited edition, so once they're gone, they're gone! However, if you want a small version of it, Miracula is sending me promo cards to hand out at Blizzcon with the image on it. They're about 4"x5", and they're stunning even at that size. Follow me on Twitter to keep track of where I'll be if you'll be at the con, and I'll hand them out until they're gone.

And finally, if you haven't yet seen "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar", you totally need to watch this music video:

I love this song. I want to be Felicia Day when I grow up. :) If you haven't been watching The Guild, I recommend checking it out, too. Don't be intimidated by having 2 seasons to watch: the episodes are only 2-4 minutes each.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twitter (moo)

Like the cattle my toon characterizes, I have followed the crowd in creating a twitter account. Mostly this is for Blizzcon in case anyone's (a) going, (b) will be following twitter, and (c) wants the best chance of catching up with me at some point during the con.

Note that, like YouTube, it is madcowsummer. I am not Summergale on Twitter, and I am not Summergale on Myspace. I am MadCowSummer pretty much everywhere because some woman in Massachusetts went and took "Summergale" on everything else. ;) So yes, I am MadCowSummer on Myspace. Actually remembered my login there impressively.

Decision will be at Blizzcon too as he's mentioned, so he and I had a nice chat today about machinima, Blizzcon, WoW, and parodies. We'll be meeting up for drinks or something sometime during the con, and I'll try to twitter about when/where once we figure it out. Also planning to check out The Guild's cast meeting, costume contest of course, and past that, I'll be playing it by ear. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Ulduar just broke 1 million views. The entire plot point from the perspective of my character is, "I can't wait to get into Ulduar". But yaknow what? Ele shammies got the short end of the stick from Ulduar loot. Maybe it's just my guild's drops, but any mail items that drop all have MP5 on them, and all the cloth and leather pieces have spirit. The trinkets and rings have +hit (when I'm already past my hit cap), and the totem relics available are crap. I'm still using a Naxx weapon from Loatheb which has some wasted points on spi on it, and my only upgrades are off 25 man Yogg or 10 man Vezax hard mode. Oh, or the legendary mace, which any guild in its right mind would give to a slew of healers before any ele shammy.

So, when's the next patch coming out? :P

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blizzcon zomg!!

I failed miserably at getting a ticket through the lottery system set up by Blizz, buuuut... Summah has friends. Very nice friends. Very nice friends who scored her a Blizzcon ticket.

So yes, I will be at Blizzcon! :D I'd given up on getting to go and then today it just fell in my lap! Toootally made my evening. And yes, I'm going to try and pull something together for the "original song" contest.

Today was actually totally a lucky day in game too, since I got a Strand Crawler in today's fishing daily at last.

(I like collecting pets.)

Squeeeee, Blizzcon!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Check it out: Wrought (Legs and Cranius)

From the same people who helped me bring Ulduar to life comes another collaboration. Set to the song "Wrought" by the Seattle rock band Peratus, this is yet another shining example of Legs' talent and artistry in machinima. With Cranius in the roles of director and actor, they tell a vivid, moving story. Legs writes: "Our interpretation of their song is a tragedy which unfolds as you see flashbacks from the perspective of an undead warrior who recalls how he fell in love with a beautiful blood elf before his undead existence, a forbidden love which was unacceptable to her people."

My fav scenes are definitely the ones involving the brute squad. :D Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ni Hao goes to academia!

Looks like Ni Hao was featured in the keynote of a Texas A&M symposium exploring race and ethnicity in new media:

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game: The Racialization of Labor in World of Warcraft [Conference Notes]

Ni Hao caught us a lot of flack for being racist against Chinese. We also got a lot of support from Chinese and Chinese-American players who found it amusing. Ni Hao does have many parts that could be viewed as racist if seen out of context, but the entire project is meant as a satirical look at the gold farming stereotype, not the race as a whole. Mad Cow Studios has nothing whatsoever against players of Chinese heritage. We hate gold farmers of any nationality. We also do not balk at a topic that we think would be funny, even if it is a bit risqué (case in point, Hard like Heroic). We were aware it was a risk. When Nyhm first wrote Ni Hao, he did debate whether it was too much. He did not wish to be seen as racist and recognized the questionable nature of some of the lyrics. We finally decided it was too funny to not produce, and we'd just take the risk of offending a few people in the name of amusing many others. At last count, Ni Hao was over 4 million views on YouTube, so I for one am glad we took that risk.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Wow, I knew we'd turned out something good with this video, but I still wasn't prepared for how popular this thing would be.

posted a version of "how this came to be" post on his blog several days ago, so I thought I'd give my side of things. Cranius and I got introduced in a roundabout manner by a mutual fan. I confess, at first I was a little concerned when Ajulex came to the Mad Cow forums all excited that he'd gotten Cranius to agree to work with me and Nyhm when neither of us had expressed any interest in collaborating. I tracked down the Big Blue Dress creator, apologized for any confusion, and ended up chatting with him about machinima, our musical backgrounds, vocal recording and World of Warcraft until the wee hours of the morning when the servers shut down for Tuesday maintenance.

Fast forward two months. Nyhm had talked often about doing a spoof to "The Way I Are" with Timbaland and Keri Hilson, but had never found the right subject matter on which to write. My guild had made a halfhearted attempt to try out the new Ulduar bosses on the test realm, and there was much anticipation of the upcoming patch as the current raid instances were getting old fast. Well, Nyhm was on indefinite hiatus from movie making, and Cranius had expressed an interest in collaborating on something, so I found myself writing a semiautobiographical spoof about the anticipation for Ulduar. The characters are based on myself and Cranius, obviously, but the relationship is entirely fictional. (And for the record, I'm not married to Nyhm, nor am I dating him.) Summer's gear in the video is my actual gear in game.

I liken the resulting whirlwind to the feeling of casting a fishing line, hoping for an Enormous Barbed Gill Trout, and finding myself faced with The Lurker Below. Cranius bit, and he ran with it. A few days later, I received his processed vocals, and I was just tickled pink at how much he'd done with them. Then he asked if it was okay to recruit some help for the video so we could get it out before the patch. "Sure," I say. "Who did you sucker into it," I think to myself. Then he introduced me to Legs' work. My jaw dropped as I watched video after video of hers and marveled at the skill and artistry. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of her before, and I was very honored she was up for working on this project, particularly since my one attempt at doing video, Heartbroken, well, let's just say it left a lot to be desired in terms of technical sophistication. *cough*

Fast forward another 10 days. Nyhm liked the song I'd sent him so much, he offered to advertise on his channel for me. And as of this writing, we're closing in on 100,000 views on YouTube, as well as having received a glowing review from Myndflame and a WoWInsider Moviewatch feature.

That was a lot more than I intended to write about the back story... Finally, some notes about the video itself:
The line "Hop on my mechano-hog and we'll never log" was not my original lyric. Cranius, in true punk PVPer fashion, wanted to change it from "don't got no mechano-hog" to reflect the fact that he does actually own a motorcycle, both in game and out, and in fact most PVPers do have bikes. This introduced inconsistencies since the mechano-hog is in fact an epic mount, and you get an achievement for obtaining one, but it fit with the rest of the spoken-word verse and the relationship aspect. Chalk it up to artistic license, folks. ;)

I highly recommend watching this in HD to appreciate all of the amazing detail.

The MP3 of Ulduar is also now available for download.


Everyone else seems to have a blog these days, and with the growing success of Ulduar, now seems as good a time as any to start one myself.

By way of introduction, my name is Summergale, and I play a Tauren shaman on the World of Warcraft US server Nesingwary. My stage persona, though, is that of a pink haired troll shaman (still named Summergale). My reputation in the Warcraft machinima scene was made through a series of Weird Al-esque hip hop spoofs produced by Nyhm, and at my request he portrayed my character as a troll because let's face it, cows look goofy singing hip hop. His videos have been wildly successful, netting views in the millions and countless fans. Alas, the time came when he decided to take an indefinite break from making movies, so I decided to try my hand at doing my own projects.

This blog will follow my new projects as well as give some background on previous ones.

So, welcome and thanks for tuning in!