Friday, June 17, 2011

Atomic Essential Audiovisual Hypnosequence

After my pal Andy showed me Half-Life for the first time, I spent a lot of time exploring the ruins of the Black Mesa Research Facility, a giant military research facility buried under the Nevada desert that is rocked apart when energy experiments rip a whole between the fabric of parallel dimensions.

You can see the original Half-Life trailer by Valve Software here, but the trailer that truly captures the whacked out brilliance of the original Half-Life game is this one, made by the equally brilliant James Benson. Check this out!

It was in the height of my enthusiasm for Half-Life that I joined Essential Clan - a fighting team taking on all comers in the Half-Life deathmatch arenas running on servers around the world. These free, public slaygrounds existed to host the 15,000 or souls per week that were looking for a fight. The performance of all individual players was captured and charted by independent ratings systems, compiled, and published on an ongoing basis, with rankings posted weekly. My best-ever individual performance as Sgt.Rock was 93rd in the world for a week, and I consistently placed in the top 250 in any given week - in the top 2% of players in the world.

My player name was a nod to my real-life service as a Sergeant in the Marines, my years spent in the mining industry and my boyhood love for the WWII-based DC comic book hero of the same name. After I joined the clan, the [Essential] tag on my Half-Life character name allowed the statistics of all of the members of the clan to be compiled as a group and compared with the many other clans that fought together and separately in the deathmatch arenas. We also fought organized head-to -head deathmatches with other clans on dedicated, private servers.

Around this same time I had been turned on to Fatboy Slim by my badass in-law sis Laura and had been listening to his albums day and night for two years straight. Then my Clan Leader revealed how easy it was to play around with the sounds in the Half-Life audio library using programs like SoundForge and buddy, the game was on!

The best of the samples that came out of these projects was the mp3 Atomic Essential in March 2000. It had been lost for years until it reappeared on Wednesday, found lurking in an old laptop. To get it on YouTube I had to add a visual component, so what follows is the original Atomic Essential upgraded with the Audiovisual Hypnosequence.

It true, I can no longer remember any of the names of my fellow besweatpantsed intoxicants. And even the countless hours we fought side-by-side in bloody and thrilling combat are but hazy nightmares to me now. But I'll always remember how great it felt to be at the top of the charts on a regular basis in 2000, fighting with a team of contenders - always in the top 10 and was sometimes the #1 Half-Life deathmatch clan in the world.

The Atomic Essential Audiovisual Hypnosequence is my anthem to that distant glory, when I was one of the best in the world at something.

Long live Essential Clan!

The foundation for Atomic Essential is the brilliant Stan Kenton song, 23 Degrees North, 82 Degrees West from 1953's New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm. The rest is all from the Half-Life library of audio files that provide every sound heard in the game.

Googling revealed that to post it on YouTube I needed to process it into another format, which I could do with Microsoft's Movie Maker software - pre-installed with Windows 7 on my PC. Movie Maker required me to add at least one image to the audio file before processing and one thing quickly led to another.

I was really pleased with what I could accomplish with Movie Maker
without ever reading any instructions. So easy! The entire Audiovisual Hypnosequence was built the very first time I tried the software - all in one sitting - then posted in the middle of the same night that I first found the mp3. Not bad, Microsoft!

All right reserved to elements of the Sequence.
Images, audio and designs by Stan Kenton, Valve Software, and DC Comics, with boundless credit to Fatboy Slim for changing how I listen to the world. Thanks also to EpicBrew for the route to James Benson's amazing Half-Life trailer. All rights reserved and much love intended for all original owners of content!

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