Today I had half an hour to sit with Suzie and go over my Learning Agreement and discuss ideas that may turn into projects. It was a useful session, though I feel like we should be doing this sort of thing every other week. I came with three ideas which I think might work, and I ordered them according to my preference. Suzie did the same, placing them in the exact opposite order.

Layered City Soundscape

This idea (which stemmed from a sound recording workshop a few weeks ago) revolves around filming a normal city scene and removing the sound in steps. The aim is to contradict a known visual with unusual or unrecognised audio backdrop. Each of the expected sounds (traffic, pedestrians, birds, wind, rain, etc) will be recorded separately, then placed on individual tracks on the editing timeline. Over the course of the film these sounds will be gradually brought in and out of focus to create something which looks familiar, yet sounds eerily different or odd. It would really highlight the amount of noise pollution that people are faced with on a daily basis. It would be about 2 minutes long and probably only include a couple of static shots filmed around the city. Following on from the session with Liam last week, I might consider playing with sound and image, to see if being able to see something makes it easier to hear / makes the noise clearer, or if the source of the object is hidden, would the audience pick out the sound and assume its authenticity.

I found this video below by Audio-Technica which really focuses on the sounds of New York City, and while it looks and sounds lovely, it does veer a bit too much towards the musical side of things. Still, I like how it matches visuals to the sounds, at least initially: 

Like the one above, this video isn’t quite what I have in mind, but it is close. It highlights a lot of city noises and sounds, which I want to do, but then it also adds / creates music again, which I don’t want to do: 

And while this video doesn’t quite have the sound that I’m after, I do love the way it looks: 

I quite liked this idea as I could link it to some of my RIPU research – its documentary aspect and the possibility of working with interesting technology when recording sound – yet Suzie wasn’t inspired. She advised me to make it entirely out of effects from a sound library and said that it wouldn’t even need any visuals to accompany it, which I think defeats the point somewhat. I know the module is about sound creation and perception, but the course is about moving image and sound.

As an experimental piece, it could be a good exercise in various things, yet as a final piece, it might be quite boring. The whole point of being on this course is to make exciting and engaging films, so I’m thinking of putting this one on the back burning for now. If I have time at the end of the module I may knock something together, but it won’t be a priority.

The fact that I couldn’t really find anything similar to what I want to make is both promising and not promising. If there really isn’t much like that out there, it could be a potential niche I could exploit, however, it might just mean no one wants to see this sort of thing.

Musical Composition and Reverse Construction

This idea stemmed from a question I asked myself – usually, when making a film, I would create the story, film the visuals, and then add a score or some sound effects, but what if I started with some sound effects, filmed some visuals to match them, and then tried to create a story from the resulting images? I would probably record ‘natural’ sounds, like footsteps, or a heartbeat, then see if I could loop that to create a rhythm or a piece of music, then, once I have a beat, create some visuals to go on top. I have a bit of an image in my head of creating a love story. Two people walking along and making noise which gradually builds up to the song, then they begin to slowly dance to the music they’ve created. I already know it would be a monumental challenge, with a lot of issues to sort out, but it could look really nice if done properly.

In terms of the dancing section of the film, I was thinking of something along the lines of this (‘Sushi’ by Alice Glenn):

Or this (‘Grace’ by: Faye Viviana and Haley Sims):

The video mentioned earlier (‘City Sounds’) has a similar sort of vibe, in that music is created/enhanced used unexpected means, but I was thinking about more sounds made by humans or human actions. 

I discussed it with Suzie but she wasn’t overly keen. She thinks it would be a lot of work and although it might look good, it would be difficult to make an interesting sound out of every day noises. I could make something ryhthmic, but would it be melodic or tuneful? Probably not. There are a lot of videos out there of acapella music, so it also might seem like a worse version one of them. Again, it now becomes less of a priority and may get made if there’s time.

Audio/Visual Study of an Artist

This final idea follows on from an idea I had during RIPU about making a documentary/promo video for an artist. I’d like to make a cinematic and emotional video about the work of a woman I know at NUA, Laure Van Minden. She works with the visual representations and power of language by creating beautiful drawings which often highlight words in an abstract and unusual way. My intention would be to reflect this visual deconstruction and layering of words in an audio sense by interviewing her about her work and manipulating the audio. She speaks several languages, which would allow me to create more phonic layers and patterns, mirroring her visuals.

The first video inspiration I have found I really love because it is shot in a really cinematic way, and the audio ties in to the visuals in such a natural way. I think it has a real nice blend of every aspect I’m looking for: 

Here’s another nice looking documentary looking an artist, but I think perhaps it has a bit too much on camera talking. It’s straying away from the cinematic, experimental style video that I’m thinking of, but there is still something about it I like: 

This was probably my least favourite idea of the three, initially, at least in terms of this module. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to mix the audio and the visuals in such an interesting way to render it worthwhile, but Suzie has convinced me otherwise. It was her favourite idea of the three, and I am slowly beginning to agree.

The things that I like about this are that it blends documentary (what I like) with commercial promo videos (which would help me earn a living), it has the ability to be really warm and cinematic in its visuals, and there could be enough interesting layers of audio to make this an artistic piece in its own right. There is the interview aspect with Laure (which would have 3 languages), the actual sounds of the work being produced (charcoal, paper, scissors, etc), and then a beautiful piece of melodic music underneath to establish the right tone. I’d probably record a lot of this on set, with the film being shot at Laure’s home where she works, but if the audio wasn’t quite what I wanted, I could get her in the sound studio to re-record it, as I don’t intend on having her interviews on camera.

I’m encouraged enough now to think that this will probably be my primary project this unit.