Red Video Experiment

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Purple Video Experiment

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AV Analysis ASU4

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‘Cirrus’ by Bonobo

Animation by Cyriak

This 3 minute video for the band Bonobo caught my attention a couple of months ago for it’s spectacularly clever use of repeating animation that grows and becomes a colossus by the end of the song.

It catches your attention at first for it’s simple rhythmic start, the old footage puts you into ‘fond memory’ mode, it’s sunny, the sky is blue, a boy is joyfully jumping on a trampoline, what could be more idyllic…

The style of the film cuts with the beat and we are then presented with some industrial footage and a domestic goddess of years gone by in her ultra (then) modern kitchen with it’s gadgets, this puts you in mind of those promotional videos that were used in the seventies to advertise ‘new towns’.

The pieces of footage are cleverly cut to reinforce and visually represent the beat of the song.

At this stage the sound elements are simple, a drumbeat, a wooden xylophone, what could be a muted cowbell, all with their own space in the score, again represented visually with individual unrepeated footage remaining in the same fifties advert style. This is further reinforced by the flickering black border and the centralisation of the film, giving you the feel of watching an 8mm home movie projected on the wall at home.

Then they add a dry snare or clap to the song filling in the spaces and the visuals pick up on this by taking the main element on screen, a girl jumping a bicycle, and repeat only her, over the original footage, precisely mirroring the audio tempo, adding onto the baseline of both the visual and the audio.

When this visual effect starts, it is an unexpected delight, having fun with the sound and picture, playing with time in both mediums, it’s a perfect marriage between the two. The fact that the song in itself is simple and melodic at this point, it’s like a short pause on the song so you can enjoy what’s happening on screen, if it were any more complex, it would totally overwhelm ones senses.

It makes me smile as the main character gets repeated visually, it is such a clever technique that the animator ‘Cyriak’ has perfected over the last ten or so years.

Then the song moves on again and the visual feast really starts…

Now we have elements of all of the different pieces of the footage all mixed up and interacting with each other, and as the song grows, so does the screen size.

The musical elements increase and the animations complexity just goes up and up and up as the animations then take on their own life and start to represent striding legs and enormous trees in a fantasy landscape that puts me in mind of Jan Svankmajer’s surreal environments, but also Escher’s optical illusions.

It is a phenomenal piece of audio visual work and it sticks in my memory because of it’s cleverness, the utter jaw-dropping content and attention to the details of the song. It works wonderfully together and I have never seen anything like it before.


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I spent this morning editing and remixing my sound for piece 1 this morning, very pleased with the improved results, I could do with another group crit to ensure I haven’t gone over the top in fact, but I’m going to work on the other areas I need for my submission and re-listen to them freshly tomorrow, then I can re-evaluate the outcome.

Re-connected some of the sound effects that got lost for piece 2, and added in a lovely extra piece of my own recorded sound which works so well, I’m so pleased I took my recording equipment to an event over the weekend, it has made a big difference to the end result.

I just need to type up my piece review, make sure everything I want them to assess is in the right sound category on this blog and I think I’m all set.

I will spend tomorrow looking to create a self contained  player for my two pieces, but am not sure if I will get all of the functionality to work in the flash container as I have never used flash to get feedback from the content, but will give it a go as the whole point of this experiment was to see if I could flavour emotion just using  sound, over the same piece of video… Therefore getting the viewer to – unbeknownst to them – only see one version of the video, for only me to know which one and see a small piece of feedback for the overall feel of the piece.

Final Group Crit

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In the final crit  it was great to see the others work and then get feedback on my own piece(s).

After working all morning on my 2nd sound piece watching them both back to back made me realise how much more I needed to do on my 1st piece as the 2nd was much more complete, I could still see areas for improvement, but as a base it was much closer to the finished article than piece 1.

The feedback was surprising and I totally agreed with most of it, a little too contrived in places – we are being told what to think in piece 2 whereas piece 1 is more left to the viewers imagination.

It also pointed out  some things about the way I had shot it and edited it that I hadn’t thought of, quite sharp edits, back and forth with my visuals and the sound followed the same feel, totally by accident, also something I hadn’t noticed was that all of the shots are static, no pans, no zooms, the movement comes from the sound and what is actually happening in the film, trees rushing by, the waves lapping, the girl moving in and out of shot and focus. But they are all as I wanted them to appear, from my first storyboard they were all straight cuts.

The other guys in the crit were quite kind about piece 2, dreamlike, delightful, all on the positive side of feeling, which is where it is aimed. Suzie had another question about my parameters, ie, would I consider using a tinted filter over the visual to give the piece a sunnier, warmer look? I know what she means.. the video was mostly shot on a very cold winters sunny day and looks cool, compared to the sound which is warming –  I’m not going to do this – but picks up on another way to influence feeling.

On re-watching piece 1, although the feedback was ok it was mainly left to a bass tone to imply what I really was trying to portray, I couldn’t hear any of my key sounds, so was disappointed with this piece as a whole, fortunately I had the sound studio booked for half a day so would be able to correct and add what I need to.

Audio advert

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We were with Richard Lightman for the last time today, our sound module is soon ending, and he decided to see how much we could get done, working as a team and to a tight brief, for a radio advert.

Given the barest of briefs and a small selection of sound effects plus 3 voice overs, we muddled our way through all of the technical challenges, taking it in turns to drive the sound desk, picking up a lot of useful stuff to produce this..

I am going to attempt to improve on this as I can see which bits I would personally change, after having RL advise and guide us through the above recording.


Sound module countdown

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The sound module asks that we submit a 2-3 minute sound piece, obviously not wanting to make it easy for myself, I am going to create two, to play with mood and emotion. I have my video very nearly finalised, but no you can’t see it.

Interestingly when I showed it to my peer group at college, they were already interpreting the footage in  many different way, with alternate storylines, and this without a soundtrack. Maybe this is an indicator of how much we need to see to be involved with the sound…

Or maybe I have got it wrong to use a visual piece to try and drive very differing emotions. But that’s me I’m a very visual person.

So the piece is ready, I just want to add a few fades, dips and ghosts over the vanilla video, so it lends itself to emotion.

Looking through my audio recordings and experiments, I know which bits worked best and those I would like to use for this module.

I have booked in for two sessions in the sound studio and hope to be on time and not too stressed.

In my last group tutorial with Suzie, she could see that I was wrangling with the question of how to make happy music/soundtrack for my experiment and she thought I should look at what parameters I would allow myself. I am torn between purely creating the sound design from found or recorded sound effects, rather than using music to get my emotional message across. I have come to the conclusion that for the purpose of this experiment I should allow myself to use music, and will be using a piece of my ukulele playing as I feel it is almost integral -for me – to connect music with upbeat/happy thoughts, it’s just the way I am…

The visuals that didn’t quite make it.

I knew pretty much from the beginning of this module that I would need to have visuals to work to and tried a couple of different things before settling on my piece. The reason that they didn’t work – I felt – was because they had no narrative to them, I got some lovely shots and the images looked how I wanted them to look, but they were too disjointed, but here are the rejects.

This is my random around Norwich sequence, I storyboarded what I wanted and managed to get most of it shot in two days, but when I came to put it together, I felt, it just didn’t work as a sequence and for my sound module, even though it’s supposed to be about the sound, I needed to have something with a little more narrative structure.

After the Norwich sequence didn’t quite work for me, and maybe it just needed a soundtrack to pull it together, but I wouldn’t have been happy working on it. I then looked to create a narrative using my to hand actress – my youngest Daughter. I found her drawing in the front room and with the sun streaming through the window it lit her face up beautifully, and it instantly fired my imagination to use a central character to drive some narrative.

I intersposed her drawing with the tap dripping to give a sense of time and waiting, but in the edit, although it looks lovely, it just didn’t go anywhere , this was mostly down to seeing something visually beautiful, but not having any thought  behind it go into it… I needed to storyboard this idea a little more with a central character. Which is exactly what I did to get the sequence I am now using.

Getting there

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At last a day to get the last bits of filming done for my sound piece… I know I’ve been worrying too much about the visual but hoping to put that right and get onto the important stuff.

Experience NUA – just in audio!

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Last week we met with Richard Lightman to look at sound recording and he set us a little project, to record the sounds of NUA and produce a short – under a minute – sound bite of life at NUA. Alice, Andy, Iain, Josh and I started with a list of things we’d like to audio sample to put into the piece, it seemed to feature a lot of doors! I particularly wanted to record the sound the door in the Library made. Josh did a walk up the stairs and along the top floor of the Media Lab to get what I felt could be an underlying base track, one which would cover the total time of the project, and then from there we could build up layers of sound…

Then we started listening to the sound the doors of the media lab made, the whoosh of air and change in sound quality was what Andy and I wanted to capture, but it proved more difficult than we thought, wind noise when it closed and it not making the sound we were after, or not recording when it did make the right sound. All of us found ourselves pressing record to stop again, and that only produced a marker on the Zoom H4 that Richard had given us to use.

We then saw that time was short and we had probably (definitely) spent too much time opening and closing the electronic Media Lab doors, so we moved on, recording footsteps through the gravel and then under the arch… As we went through the arch I really liked the echo, but none of us was wearing hard bottom shoes to record lovely ‘clippy cloppy’ echoey footsteps, and although we waited a little while, no-one passed through either.

We then moved into the street and Alice caught a lovely bit of chatter from a large group going past, as the area between the two Art College buildings has a nice resonance when people walk past in groups, was one of the things we had written on our ‘would like to aurally record’ list.

We moved into the the opposite building and recorded the giant metal door, with Iain making it sound very much like the noise it would make when rolled down. Looking into the 3D studios we heard some sawing wood so captured a small amount of that before we left, and again more great squeaky doors which soaked up our precious time.

We had the NUA bar on our list to get a coffee being made but for some reasons – I can’t remember why now – we went instead to the cafe down the road and sampled Iain ordering a coffee (and a kitkat). Back to college and the hallways and textiles room was next on the list, with time running out rapidly we got the power washer, some running footsteps and walking noises, then had to return, as we were late.

I knew that I wanted some extra sounds (and that library door), so went in the next day to capture a few vital sounds, that I felt were integral to my experience of NUA, things we hadn’t thought about on the previous day, on my little Zoom H1. Then spent today in the sound studio (at City College) putting them together.

I found some of the most useful sounds to be in outtakes, which I’m glad I listened to and didn’t just leave muted, and unexpectedly in the sounds I did want it wasn’t always the bit I thought it would be that would be the best… you can never tell…

I know Richard won’t thank me for sampling an outtake of his voice, but as he said himself… it needs an introduction.


Happy sound, happy picture?

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So alongside the happy sound experiment I am trying to get a stock of ambiguous footage, that could be used in the final project as a backdrop to the two different soundscapes, so after having a go at the ‘happy’ sound design I have quickly edited this close up footage of my daughter with the first test, just to see what does and doesn’t work well, with a view on the future finished piece..

There are definitely successful elements and marriages between video and audio, I like how the visual goes out of focus and back in again, something I could use to tie in the sound with, for happy, you could make the sound dreamy as it goes out of focus, for the more tense piece you could add gritty hard noise onto it, tying them into their different mood sets…

A successful days work in the sound studio… it is quite fascinating…

My ears are constantly on the quest for is that a happy sound, what makes it so… and quickly writing down what it is.

I’m never going to listen to anything the same again.

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