Friday, 7 December 2012

Sound test 2.


  1. Evening Aidan,

    Thank you for being patient with me. I've had a backlog of 'must do' stuff on my plate, but now you have my undivided attention :)

    I'm going to give you lots of feedback - some about the sound, suggestions and such - and also anything that's still bugging me or that I want to see you address for the next playblast.


    Firstly, before I talk about your piece in specific terms, I want you to watch the following film very carefully - in terms of graphic design of text elements, but also how the animation begins: you've seen it before obviously, but I want you to really look at how carefully and sympathetically the title sequence is put together and all the subtle film-making stuff that's going on less obviously.

    Notice, for example, how the soundscape in De Chirico actually begins before we see any image; it cues the audience in. I suggest that you consider starting your soundscape similarly - i.e. that even before we're introduced to the beach scene we 'hear' the beach first - the sound of the waves, the cry of the gulls and the flapping of the flags. I want you to now design the opening titles of this piece - I want you to identify and use an appropriate typeface - not just any old font, but something that is born from the era of the painting - something that works. You'll need to think about how we transition from the title sequence to the beach scene; does the text begin separately on a blank colour, before fading into the scene; or is the text overlayed ontop of the beach scene? I don't want you to rush this opening sequence; take your time, and use it to build up the restful, reflective 'peace-time' ambience of the beach. The design decisions you make for the opening sequence and introduction of the titles should be the same design language for the closing credits - i.e. your name. Oh yes - and don't put anything like 'by Aidan Codd' or 'in association with UCA' at the beginning of your film. Stylistically, that always looks really naff and immature (like an A'Level project) - keep all the credits until the end.

  2. Okay - sound stuff more specifically:

    1) We need to hear the flag flapping - first from a distance, and then, when we're closer, more loudly. You need to think spatially about your soundscape - the way things need to feel as if they're further away, closer, to the left, to the right, behind us etc.

    2) I think you should keep all the more musical elements out of the sound mix until the propellers are coming to life. We should simply hear the creak of their awakening and then allow the 'music' to accompany them as they get to their 'feet'.

    3) The propellers need a signature sound of their own - a whirring or similar - and you need to use it in a sophisticated way - a) to lend weight and friction to their movement (the idea they're actually displacing air with their movements) and b) to create spatial effects - so, for example, when you intercut and we're up very close to the propeller, we should feel its closeness (via increase in volume of noise) and we should be able to hear it as it spins away from us - a retreating sound. You have got to marry your sounds up with absolute precision, Aidan - yes, you've got a more generalised soundtrack going on, but if it moves in your world, it should have a sound identity of its own, and it should be consistent and absolutely in synch - nothing flabby or non-descript.

    The camera moving out to see is still a bit of a 'dead' sequence, Aidan - both visually and aurally; again, perhaps the sea would be louder, the gulls louder, the wind louder, something!

    Okay - when the bars rise up out of the horizon, I think you need to cut back to the beach scene earlier so we see the propellers AND the bars still rising up. At the moment, when we cut back and see the propellers plus the blocked skyline something doesn't quite gel. This sequence could be constructed from intercuts too; I like the close-ups of the propellers that follow, but there is something very dynamic - not to say nightmarish - about those bars blocking the sky, and I think you should seek to do more of this bit from the propellers' point of view - as if it's happening to them, they're seeing it, they're experiencing it, they're watching it happen. I think too you need to simply let those bars climb onwards and onwards into the sky and also cover the entire horizon. I know it's previz, but you've got shots in there which show that the bars have an end - both on one side and above, and I think you need to suggest that the bars are infinitely wide and infinitely high. The other issue here is the fact that the light changes so dramatically between the scenes prior to the bars and afterwards, that it looks like a continuity error. I think your idea is that the bars are blocking out the light etc. if so, you need to show that change of lighting within the action of the piece - so when you construct that sequence with the propellers watching the sky disappear, you'll need to include too a sort of 'eclipse of the sun' moment, as their world grows a bit darker etc.

  3. okay - the BIG weakness with this piece is the ending because it just feels as if you don't have enough content at the moment; more simply put, the 'attack of the bars' on the propellers just doesn't feel destructive enough. I think we need to see more of the propellers caught and crushed, and I think the bars need more life, more angles, and this whole sequence needs to be done with more gusto, more violence, and much more intercutting. I want you to re-look at some very famous examples of montage editing to give you a bit more courage to take this piece to its necessary conclusion - the way that small splinters of film can be collided together to create a sense of impact and violence; so:

    I also keep thinking of this scene from War of the Worlds:

    There's something too rigid and not 'animated' enough about what happens at the end of your film; it doesn't feel like 'war' it feels too tidy. I want you to consider too making use of expressionistic lighting - imagine, for example, backlighting the bars with a bloody red glow, so the attack is suddenly more brutal looking; think about using flashes of red, or use of sparking effects, you know, the clash of metal. Something to suggest warfare. I don't think you've got this sequence yet, I think it needs to be re-imagined and elaborated upon - this isn't a setback or a criticism - it's just what this animation needs.

    If you get this bit right - if you construct it montage style - like a battle-scene - then it can suddenly end in a great noise, then silence, and the we're back on the beach, the bars have gone, the propellers are gone, the sky is red, and then we see the flag flapping again in the wind as the screen darkens to black - finish...

    The reason why the end feels flat right now is because the ending IS flat right now - you need to deal with war imagery and create a more avant-garde finale! So, look carefully at those montage edit examples and think carefully about what this 'battle scene' needs. The soundscape aspect of this final scene will become much more obvious when you've heightened the action appropriately.