British Public Information Film: Searching (1974)

A British Public Information (PIF) film which was broadcast in 1974 and shown during television advertisement breaks. Like many PIFs in the mid-1970s, the film deals with safety issues at home. This film pays attention to the dangers of children playing with matches in a home environment.

The narrative is predominately voiced through sound and the visuals containing horror characteristics. From research and recalling PIFs shown in this period in my own youth, the horror aspect was a very familiar trait in the mid-1970s. It seemed that the more evocative was the more effective. Though whether there is any truth in that fact remains to be seen. The trajectory of the hand-held camera (being the person) stealthily moves through a dilapidated interior. The narrative makes it clear for the viewer that the dweller, a family member, is returning to the devastation. Objects on the kitchen table being  theatrically arranged as the camera scrutinizes the pitiful remains. The audio really does   dominate the visuals, penetrative echoes and cries of the family members provide visceral qualities.

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”

Rotoshop experimenting begins (Steps 1 and 2)

STEP 1: After finally deciding that I would choose the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960), I scanned various sites to find a HD version of the footage. A HD version helps me during the rotoscoping process as I can map the outlines of the form with more speed and less difficulty. At this stage, I don’t get bogged down with having to improvise objects and movement. From experience, that part of rotoscoping can really slow down the process and the outcome might not be the desired result. On the other hand, improvisations can create unintentional digital masterpieces! Considerations. Below is an audio version of the Psycho shower scene. Time: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

STEP 2: I will be animating at 1 second per 12 frames so my next aim is to edit the footage down to around 1 minute 20 seconds (960 drawings approx. ). I’ve not done very much in the way of film editing since my university days. It will be interesting to see if I can still maintain the impact of the scene though it’s not a pre-requisite. From analysing the footage, I note framing composition, visually very clear and the manner in which the tension builds; subtle edits from animate objects (woman) to inanimate objects (the shower head). The tension manifests in a series of close-ups and montage. I keep track of times, shots and areas in which I could exploit, distort, exaggerate during the post-edit phase. Time: 1 minute, 29 seconds