In May 2017 I spent some time walking in the English countryside. I took lots of photos and recorded some of the birdsong. This video is a taste of both.
After nearly 4 months, the video for Mountain Building is finally finished.
It's been a long journey. At times I wasn't sure that I'd be able to complete this project; it certainly challenged my skills and vision. I'm much more comfortable with sound than I am with visuals, and I recall times of blankness when I wished I was working with audio again in the belief that then I would know what to do. But I persisted and I've learnt so much from the process.
At face value, the music and video for Mountain Building may seem fairly dark and down. But for me the work has a positive, affirming side too. I've learned that self-awareness is important for healing. So, for me, Mountain Building is as much about identifying, acknowledging and owning the issue as it is about the issue itself.
Sound Software: Reaper, Melodyne, instruments from Native Instruments Komplete, effects from iZotope and Fab Filter.
Visual Software: Dragonframe, Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop.
I'm really glad I made a point of publicising my work on the video for Mountain Building. Otherwise I might not have carried on. Suffice to say this project is proving to be bigger and more challenging than I'd originally thought. But the upside is that I'm learning so much along the way. Progress is slow; to date I've mainly been working on getting my techniques and workflow figured out. Finally this weekend I feel I've progressed to the stage of building up footage that will be used in the final product. I'm definitely feeling optimistic about the final product.
I've finally started work on the video for Mountain Building. I plan to use stop motion photography and silhouettes. It's ambitious for me and something I haven't done seriously before. But I have a vision of the feel that I want the video to take and I think this could achieve it. I'm excited and scared at the same time.
I have lots of photos from my last trip overseas that have been sitting neatly filed away in the dark of my computer drive. This week I decided to do a little tidying up and finally post my favourites to Instagram. Here's a gallery of the latest.
I have an app on my iPad called "Circular". Here are some images I created using it. I love them but I can't really take any credit other than the original photos; the app does all the hard work.
I made this as I was reflecting on the stories behind "Affirmation".
For the last 3 months I've been working on the music and videos for "Ink Won't Fade as Fast". As mentioned in an earlier post, early on I realised the song wasn't heading where I had originally intended so I decided to make two different edits. As I've made the decision to produce videos for all new songs this meant two different videos as well. In this post I want to write a little about the background behind the song, edits and videos and some of the decisions I made along the way.
This song is not my usual subject matter. The inspiration came from an encounter I experienced in London last year. I'm not familiar with writing about intimacy and I never intended to share the details, but I hoped the song might invoke some of the feelings and help me to remember. For these reasons I've tried hard not to be too narrative with the words and visuals. Instead of writing about the experience, I decided to write in the third person and describe someone remembering the experience. Now it's finished, I've realised that the song doesn't really articulate what made this particular experience so special to me and in some ways that feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. So, although I don't wish to share the details, I might tackle that angle in another project down the track.
While I'm on the topic of words, I do realise the poor grammar of the title. "Quickly" is probably more grammatically correct but it just didn't have the same rhythm and alliteration as "fast".
Musically, my original intention was for something that had a light feel about it, in sympathy with the experience. I also hoped I could create something that was different, at least for me. But of course, instead I found myself steering towards known territory with familiar styles and sounds. Not bad; just familiar and safe. I didn't want to scrap this version so I decided to call it the "blue ink edit". I actually considered calling it the "blue cliché edit" because, if anything, it feels a little cliché to me.
To create the "ink stain edit" I took the original and stripped away everything but the vocals. Even those I removed the processing from so I could start again. Coming up with new beats was going to be the key and for the first time in a while I really wanted to put the effort into building them from scratch rather than using loops for inspiration or as components. Beats are not my strong point and I don't feel confident working with them. But I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I think they transformed the feel of the song. Related to the beats was a conscious decision to minimise long chords or notes aligned to the bar which is kind of a feature in the "blue ink edit". The bass line, in particular, was a direct result of that decision. But what I'm most pleased about with this edit is the delicate feel; it really matches my memory of the moment. And I think the koto-esque lead in the final verse helps with that lightness; definitely an example of a lucky fluke, not to mention a rarely taken opportunity to play with pitch bend!
Like the music, the "blue ink edit" video came first. To me the music is a bit smooth and milky so I decided to match it with desaturated visuals and a pale blue tint. Many parts of the song fade to the blue tint at the end of the bar to accentuate the bar aligned beats and chords; kind of a visual beat. Interspersed between the "flowing" sheets I wanted to place images that hint of sensuality. Although they also ended up looking a bit cliché, in line with the alternative title, they were still fun to experiment with, create and film. The idea of writing on the sheet was a nod to the chorus line but I was nervous of being to literal. So I made sure I offset the writing scenes from the choruses to keep them separate. I hope the concept was worth sacrificing the sheet for!
For the "ink stain edit" I wanted to take a different approach. I didn't think the visuals for the first edit would work with this one anyway. I wanted to play with the concept of ink being used to record a memory without using words or pictures. As the rhythm of the edit evolved I thought about animating the artwork to grow with the music. It was a lot of fun to play with the ink and discover what worked; it took quite a few attempts to get the effect I wanted. Animating the ink, especially the dripping colours in the second chorus gave me a great opportunity to learn new techniques. My only reservation about the final product is that maybe it doesn't have the same lightness as the music.
While I was in Europe last year, as well as taking lots of still photographs, I filmed over an hour of short video clips - most are only between 30 and 60 seconds long. I wanted to do something with this footage - to use it to tell part of the story of my journey. Individually these clips are nothing special and some are pretty rough. But collectively they represent and remind me of a special adventure.
It was important to me that this wouldn't be visuals trying to fit to a song or a soundtrack trying to fit over a video. I was determined to create both elements in parallel. This took me a bit of getting my head around but eventually I found a way of working that allowed me to progressively build the two together. It was great to work in a different way. I also imposed some discipline on myself to avoid some of the shortcuts I've taken in the past.
So 35 Days is a montage, a record, a travelogue, a glimpse at what the trip was like. But it's not the whole story - there are other aspects that I'd love to be able to express - I just haven't found the right way yet.
While I was overseas I often found myself fixated by the texture and character of battered, weathered walls; particularly in Berlin and Krakow. I took a lot of photographs. As I was looking through them on my return I started to think of walls as the skin of the city. Like human skin, the city skin carries the stories and history of the body it contains.
The City Skin is a small collection of some of those photographs and the thoughts they inspired.
While gathering my thoughts for a mini-project I've rediscovered the pleasure and effectiveness of paper. Having the pictures and space to write right in front of me in the dining area is proving to be both fun and productive. Hopefully I'll have this project finished and published here soon.