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After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Holiday Tribute to my Dad

About a month ago, I was asked by an editor to see if I could find a slide from 1978 that I took of helicopter logging in the Cascade Mountains. While I was looking for that slide I stumbled across a slide of my late father calling a square dance in the living room of their home.

Dad always enjoyed calling square dances and over the holidays we would push all the furniture back after dinner and he would give us a dance lesson. Dad loved music and even after he had to give up square dancing he would play his keyboard for hours. We lost him three years ago after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and miss him a lot especially this time of year. So, I decided to try to give my family the gift of seeing him call one more time.

All I had was a still image but I knew I could animate his face and synchronize his mouth to an audio file of a square dance call using a product called CrazyTalk. I didn't have an audio file of his voice either so I used a product called MorphVOXPro to morph my own voice into something more male sounding. I must have recorded that audio track 20 times but I still couldn't make it sound right. It's hard to carry a tune when your voice is being morphed in real time! (I hope you'll forgive me for that Dad.)

I found a music loop of Jingle Bells on the web up at Soundsnap.com and was allowed to use up to five music loops per month as a member with a free account. So I joined this free spirited group and got the music I needed. Then I downloaded a free sound editing tool from Audacity.com to add a prelude to the song since it started right at the point Dad would need to start calling and I thought that was a little too abrupt. I tied everything together and sprinkled in a few transitions using Microsoft MovieMaker. If you want to read all about the trials and tribulations of putting the presentation together, check out my Technology Times and Trials blog!

This was my attempt to give my other family members a gift that couldn't be purchased in any store. I hope they enjoyed the memories.

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