Don’t Have Nightmares 2015 (Revised)

Don’t Have Nightmares was an unfinished project back in March, 2015. An installation was to be incorporated but due to complications, I abandon the idea. Also, the audio was never added as the animation remained unfinished. It was a pity, as Jonny (sound engineer) had worked hard on the audio. So, rather than just abandon the project, I found myself being more proactive over the festive period. I continued working on the animation. First, adding motion tweens, then a few stills, then cyan tones and finally the icing on the cake-the audio. Done!

My inspiration came from the books I’m currently reading and the public information film project I’m currently working on. The idea of using the animation (Don’t Have Nightmares) for a public information project was considered back in June/July last year. The books, The Internet is not the Answer by Andrew Keen and The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, inspired me to use the animation to interpret the argument that privacy is becoming obsolete. The voyeuristic iconic shower sequence in Psycho where the viewer is allowed to secretly peer in at the subject is akin to the way social media platforms are set up. Facebook being the obvious example. That’s not to say we only use social media for a spying purpose, but there is the temptation to do so. Interestingly, Andrew Keen references another Hitchcock film, Rear Window. In his book, he states that Hitchcock’s narrative parallels Google’s dominance in the digital age. I considered a new working title ‘Are Friends Celebrities?’ However, I ditched the idea to avoid any referencing confusion on my blog. Overall, I’m pleased with the end result and thankfully so is the sound engineer.

Audio information from an earlier post (March 2015):

The original audio was severely revamped. Stock sound fx downloaded and manipulated in pitch or speed. Analogue synthesizer used for simple “heartbeat” pulse. Reverb plug ins used to simulate tiled bathroom ambience. Delay with lfo sweep used to emulate water going down a plughole, swirling psycho effect.  Overall, I was very pleased with Jonny’s work. However, the screams were still too prominent for me so I decided to make amendments in Audacity. I reduced the scream amplification and added much more ‘delay’ effects on screams

 

 

Don’t Have Nightmares 0.1: Psycho (sound Experiment 1)

Recently I have collaborating with a sound engineer (Jonny) on the Don’t Have Nightmares 0.1 rotoscope. To begin, it was decided that a conventional sound piece would be a sensible choice.

Pre-sound discussion/considerations (early March)

The recording will be made by analogue synthesizers. One will be conventional sound effects tied to the visual activity on screen. The second will be sound made by analogue synthesizers which will represent some of the action on screen (shower noise) and screams. Also, there will be some musical representations of motion and emotion (i.e. glissando as her hand slides down the wall). There will be one recurring background sound to represent the growing tension before the attack.

Post-sound discussion/considerations (mid March) 

The original audio was severely revamped. Stock sound fx downloaded and manipulated in pitch or speed. Analogue synthesizer used for simple “heartbeat” pulse. Reverb plug ins used to simulate tiled bathroom ambience. Delay with lfo sweep used to emulate water going down a plughole, swirling psycho effect.  Overall, I was very pleased with Jonny’s work. However, the screams were still too prominent for me so I decided to make amendments in Audacity. I reduced the scream amplification and added much more ‘delay’ effects on screams.

Graphics

To present the sound, originally, I was going to upload a wave file. No, seemed a bit boring. Mmmm and there was me applauding a Will Self article only last week saying that the net is suffering from visual overload! Then, I thought a rotoscoped drawing could be a ‘nice’ spectatorial pleasure for the viewer. After all,  this is a sound piece. After playing around with original footage on a movie editor, I made up my mind. The original (edited) footage is used though subltly. Effects: Contrast and various toners are used for a ‘heated’ visual effect. I thought about making the graphics stronger and denser by blurring the colours so the actual footage would became non-existent. I did and at one point it looked like a Mark Rothko painting.  Before finalising, I decided on typography. First, I typed ‘Don’t Have Nightmares 0.1 about five or six times. No, all the fonts looked plain. Then, I converted the type into Windings 3. The graphic softens the visuals so I decided to use three (Red,Yellow & Black) layers of Windings 3. The graphical element hints at voyeurism. Like looking in on someone through a small space. I bit like what Norman was doing in the film.

As stated in the credits, to REALLY HEAR, headphones are recommended.

 

Don't Have Nightmares 0.1 Psycho- Sound Experiment 1

 

 

Italian 1960s Lounge Music

Sound Collaboration (provisional): Jonny C

Over the past few weeks, amidst a busy work schedule, I found time to have a brief meeting with my work colleague, Jonny. I’m hoping that Jon will collaborate on my project as sound engineer. Background: After graduating from Glasgow University, he became interested in experimental sound mainly working/experimenting with analogue synth. Since he arrived in Tokyo in 1998, he’s collaborated with a number of bands, playing the synthesizer. Before we became acquainted, I recall going to see him perform with a band called The Lickerish Quartet about 6 years ago. They played at The Green Apple (below) which is a 60s/70s arty themed café in Koenji (Tokyo) . The café also serves as music venue at night and is well known for performances dealing with psychedelia, mod nostalgia and avant-garde experimental music.

The Green Apple Cafe 1

 

I vividly recall the theatrical setting devised  by the band before they came on to play. Playing on retro aesthetics, an 8mm film projector silently played Italian 60s film footage onto an orangey, pink coloured curtain while the band played. The band played a mixture of modern chill-out, poppy electronica with down-tempo elements and with the usual characteristics associated with lounge sounds (i.e. jazz, exotica and bossa nova origins). I was impressed by the whole visual spectacle. A performance in both foreground and background. I think I was more interested in the theatrical presentation rather the music. When I became acquainted with Jon, I found out that the stage setting and props were his idea.

During our meeting, we looked at my blog and I conveyed how I envisaged the sound. I informed him that I intend to make an installation of the bathroom used in the 1960 film Psycho. The shower room scene would be edited, animated and projected from a monitor inside the set. I further mentioned the feasibility of this plan and my intentions regarding scale. That is, if I’m unable to make a life-size set, then a miniature set will be constructed. A meeting with a set designer is scheduled next month. It was also noted that the installation/set will not be an exact representation but the finished article should look very Modernist by appearance with expressionistic influences.  Below are some researched 1960 bathroom designs from American Standard.

Example 2 Example 3

 

 

We considered the opening audio, which would run for around 30 seconds. I’m keen on the idea of using Italian 60s lounge music themes, so we listed a few composers and tracks such as Armando Trovajoli-Vivere Felici, Bruno Nicolai-Spy Chase and Nico Fidenco.

The idea being that Jon would then compose either sampling, remixing or work on similar themes. At this stage, there isn’t a concrete sound plan, though it is intended for the opening audio to distort into a more sinister theme which would be a cue for the animation to begin. The duration of sound will be no more than 2 minutes, 10 seconds. Sound bites used for the animation will be discussed in our next meeting. We will consider answers from Question 2 of the questionnaire.  The next step is for Jon to view the edited Psycho footage and work on a few audio tests. If we are on the same wavelength (audio wise ), then the collaboration will begin. The big “If”