What is The Simple Carnival?
The Simple Carnival is the musical moniker of Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter Jeff Boller. That's me over there on the right.
I make Beach Boys-influenced pop music and experimental easy listening. There's also quite a bit of Electric Light Orchestra, Todd Rundgren, and Steely Dan influences in what I do.
I play most (or all) of the instruments on The Simple Carnival's recordings, and have released four CDs since 2005.
What is Smitten 3D?
Smitten 3D is a 40 minute animated music video movie... in 3D! It's like listening to a music album from beginning to end, except there is a 3D music video that goes with every song.
You'll need to wear those funny glasses to get the 3D effect. You'll see/hear near-complete versions of the videos on this site as they are created.
And yes, everything looks like cardboard cutouts on purpose.
CDs are dead, mp3s are boring, and I love filmmaking, 3D, and animation. So why not?
Who's making Smitten 3D?
I'm writing and animating Smitten 3D, as well as playing most of the instruments. There are other folks contributing things, though:
- Chris Belin - Drums
- Missy Kulik - Cartoon artwork for the web site and packaging
- Becca Dick, Jeff Decuir, Jess Decuir, Brandon Eberly, Rob Gibson, Dan Jacko, Laura Kocher, Laura McCarthy, Devon Struthers, Matt Williams - Background vocals
How will Smitten 3D be released?
Smitten 3D will be released as a 3D blu-ray disc. It's probable that the entire 40-minute movie will be shown on the indie film circuit. The individual completed videos are already being shown at film festivals and 3D conventions.When I give workshops, I bring along what is essentially a portable 3D movie theater. When Smitten 3D is done, I plan to take the movie "on tour" and bring the portable 3D movie theater with me.
There are no plans to release the music from Smitten 3D on CD.
Why no CD release?
CDs are dead. See my talk at 3D Stereoscopic Weekend if you want the details.
I could be persuaded release the music on CD if enough people say they're interested in that format.
What about mp3s?
When will Smitten 3D be complete?
Whenever I finish it. I'm working as quickly as I can given the limited amount of time I have to dedicate to the project.
Are you going to run a Kickstarter campaign?
No, not while I'm creating the movie. I may run a Kickstarter campaign once the movie is complete and I need to pay for blu-ray replication. We'll see.
What's Smitten 3D about?
It's a series of vignettes about being infatuated...and what happens afterwards.
How are you making Smitten 3D?
I'm using a combination of hand-drawn, cutout, and computer animation. Some of the hand-drawn artwork is rotoscoped (traced) onto paper from video footage that I've shot.
On "Tornado" I'm using nothing but black construction paper, a pen knife, and painted backgrounds. On "A Geek Like Me" I'm tracing a LOT of real video footage with paper and pencil. The images will be cut out and placed into a 3D environment. "Smitten" and "Everything That Grownups Know" utilize black Sharpies on paper.
Software-wise, it's Anime Studio for computer animation, Paint Shop Pro for 2D graphics, Sony Vegas Movie Studio for video editing, and some custom software that I wrote to facilitate the 3D workflow.
Got an hour? Watch these two videos if you really want to know the nitty gritty details.
What kind of 3D glasses do I need?
To view the videos on this site, you'll need red/cyan 3D glasses, with the red filter over your left eye. The 3D glasses with gray filters from your local movie theater will not work with ordinary computer monitors.
There are plenty of places online where you can find these glasses.
If you're in the U.S., go to the book section of your local Dollar Tree and look for 3D books about dinosaurs, the solar system, bugs, etc. Those books will contain a pair of 3D glasses inside. Sometimes Dollar Tree has excellent plastic red/cyan 3D glasses in the toys section.
Are the songs written?
All of the songs are written. Most of it is recorded. The remaining parts are being recorded simultaneously with working on the movie.
Are you going to post demos of the new songs?
No, but the final blu-ray will contain bonus material like demos and animated storyboards.
3D gives me a headache. How can I watch a 2D version?
On YouTube, click the red 3D button at the bottom of the movie frame and choose "Turn off 3D" from the menu.
Are you really performing all the parts on these songs?
Prior to Smitten 3D, yes. On Smitten 3D, please see the credit list for who's doing what.
What else has The Simple Carnival done?
If you like what you hear in the Smitten 3D project, check out 2008's Girls Aliens Food. It received rave reviews and made a number of critics' "Best of 2008" lists. In 2012, a Japanese label released a remastered edition of Girls Aliens Food with 20 minutes of bonus tracks. You can find that version on Amazon and from Disques Dessinee.
Earlier in 2008, the Me and My Arrow EP was released. It consists of three slightly edited tracks from the then-forthcoming Girls Aliens Food album, plus the title track -- a cover of the Harry Nilsson classic.
If you want to dig further, there's 2006's Sonic Rescue League Vol. 1, an odds-and-ends collection of early Simple Carnival recordings, and 2005's Menlo Park EP, a just plain odd release with hardly any singing at all.
You can find almost all of these things on iTunes.
Why are you not selling the Me and My Arrow EP on this site?
Why are you not selling any CDs at all on this site?
Does The Simple Carnival play live?
No. It would be too expensive to hire all the musicians I would need to pull this sort of sound off in a live setting.
Where does The Simple Carnival record?
In my basement.
Do you want to collaborate on my music project?
Unless you're a good friend, probably not. It's an ongoing challenge to make time for this project, so I can't imagine taking on something in addition to Smitten 3D.
Are you really playing all the instruments and singing all of the vocal parts?
Other than these exceptions, yes. Every note you hear on The Simple Carnival's recordings is the result of me repeatedly overdubbing myself. Most modern production touches (samplers, loops, drum machines, AutoTune, harmony processors, etc.) are avoided or not used at all.
While I'm not opposed to modern technology, I tend to only use instruments and recording techniques that were available before 1980. With a few exceptions, it's all "real" instruments recorded and layered one part at a time.
What instruments are used in The Simple Carnival's recordings?
This is not a complete list. Upright tack piano, spinet tack piano, Hammond organ, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric bass, drums, congas, flute, a homemade marimba, clarinet, violin, cello, Electro-Theremin, glockenspiel, ARP Omni, Sequential Circuits MAX, circuit-bent toys, hacked up cassette players, various percussion doodads, lots of homemade gadgets, thrift store finds, and dollar store toys.
What gear do you use to record?
This is not a complete list.
Currently: Neve 1272s, LA-2A, UREI 1176s, Neumann U87, AKG 451s, Shure SM57, AKG D112, MD421s, LYNX-TWO sound card, Reaper, reel-to-reel tape decks, Soundcraft Spirit E8 mixer, Dunlop Cry Baby, MXR Phase 90, custom-built sample and hold/autofilter, T.C. Electronic M300, Lexicon MPX 110.
VST plug-ins include: Sonalksis SV-315Mk2 Compressor, Sonalksis SV-517Mk2 EQ, Voxengo Elephant, Kjaerhus Audio Classic Chorus, Cockos ReaComp, Cockos ReaGate, Christian Knufinke's SIR.
For everything prior to Smitten 3D: Digidesign Digi 001 audio interface, Pro Tools 5.3.1, RNC 1773 compressor, Fishman Pro-EQ Platinum bass preamp, R0de NTK, AKG C535 EB, EV PL77A, EV N/D 2578, Studio Projects B-1, MXL 990, The Sound Professionals stereo mic.
How can I contact you?
You can reach me (Jeff Boller) at email@example.com.