Satoshi Tomioka was born in Nagoya in Japan in 1972. At graduate school, Tomioka studied hydrodynamics at Tokyo University. He became interested in computer graphics while working part-time for a graphics company. After graduating he worked for Dream Pictures Studios until the studio closed down in 1999. He now works at his own studio Kanaban Graphics which received success for the series Usavich, a series of animated short films for MTV’s Japanese mobile service ‘Flux’.
Sink (1999) was Tomioka’s first film which is based on his own experiences commuting on the Tokyo underground. In the film, Tomioka depicts his subjects (businessmen) in an underwater world. Poking fun at them as they ogle at pornographic imagery. Tomioka’s imagery of the Tokyo metropolis is an extremely vivid and colourful one. Toy-like trains glide through illuminated tunnels. There are some captivating angles taken from inside the train. For example, at 0.54 the scene features the intensity of a packed commuter train so packed, train seats are not evident. Another angle focuses on views of the surrounding cityscape, skyscrapers bearing down on the inhabitants and the ubiquitous advertising hoardings completely mapping vertical structures. Sink portrays aspects typical of Japanese social realism in the 90s. Tomioka’s interpretation of Tokyo commuters is played with tongue and cheek; a society dictated and ruled by businessmen with sexually repressive characteristics living a monotonous existence. Having researched on Tomioka, there are suggestions that the shy and reclusive filmmaker is depicting himself in this manner. There are aspects of the animation I can clearly identify with and I would imagine my project will feature similar viewpoints of Japanese society.
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.
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.
After being inspired by Jeff Scher’s experimental animations, I thought it best to start working before the desire ends up an after-thought. I chose five animations to experiment with, four with human actions (playing the piano, putting on make-up, sitting down/ standing up and an exaggerated walk). All the footage I shot myself over the past few years. My work colleagues come in handy. The non-action animation involves passengers on a train in Tokyo. Incidentally, my original project proposal, only five months ago, was to make a film about the Tokyo Underground. My, how things have changed! After selecting the animations, I began layering and experimented with the visuals. It was a very stimulating process. I aimed to keep a continuous rhythm, movement coming into shot then morphing or fading out. Some of the animations were filmed on a small screen size which meant I could consider juxtaposition in more clarity. Paying homage to Jeff Scher’s White Out (2007), the viewer is exposed to vast spaces of white screen, heightening the graphic representation and making the composition more identifiable, that is what I was aiming for here. The experimental film is finally finished off with classic 80s synth-pop. Early electronica music- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark- Electricity.