I love animation. I loved the drawn stop-motion animation Rosie Wyllie used in our Inscape films. I also can’t draw! So what can I do with a whiteboard and my very limited abilities as an artist?
The images for Edgewise came at the end of 2020 and far, far too many video calls – during which I became very accustomed to and very depleted by being talked over by other people.
There are fascinating things about exploring a new creative medium. There’s the freedom: “I can suck all I like at this and it doesn’t matter at all!” And there’s the discovery: “my hands have developed their own brain and are bypassing my plans as I go!”
The soundtrack was created by studying recordings and then imitating the speech of very confident or aggressive speakers, then mapping the speech patterns to midi. I used VariAudio in Cubase to do this second part, and it worked well. I mapped it onto a pretty basic and waffly-sounding patch and built the rest of the music around that.
This is the very beginning of our journey as a production company.
We would love for you to join us on that journey. There will be a £1 per month tier coming very soon, as well as more in-depth discussion about Roots and the extensive research that our writer, Catherine, undertook over two years, to produce her remarkable poem-script.
I will also be posting some content that delves into Suspended.
We were very excited to learn that Suspended had won one of three Draw/Camberwell prizes and was to be exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery as part of the Draw Art Fair. Unfortunately, this had to be cancelled because of the pandemic, and is taking place on Instagram instead.
I had meant to post here more now, as the new Inscape film, Roots, takes shape. I wanted to talk about my thoughts as we work on it.
Well, we are working on it now, and I’ve just seen Rosie’s first rough test clips from her garden studio, which are lovely.
My job at this stage is far more boring, as I have to figure out how to remote record a small group of children with varied accents while we’re all locked down for Covid-19. Right now, I think it will be tricky, but I am lucky with my connections, so who knows!
It’s hard for me to do more than keep up with existing creative/professional commitments right now, though, as I home-school and care for my two children. Please bear with me.
In the meanwhile, I extracted the whole soundtrack to episode 20 of The Hidden People, ‘Blood on my Hands’. In the end, I was proud of my work on this and what it added to the work as a whole. You can listen to the music in this episode and more of the show here: https://hiddenpeoplepodcast.com/
On its own, much of it is quite ambient; parts are emotional, parts contemplative, but all of it has the same character’s music going through it like a heartbeat. I found it rather meditative to listen to in these strange times. Maybe it is a good companion for you too. I hope so!
“Sparse, shrunk-down to pain and black and white …” (5:25)
“… I always think of a sharp pain as a flash of white … vixen screams … tendril things …” (5:35 – 7:34)
“… ney flute … warm sheen … when the son is crossing the son is crossing the river …” (7:50 – 9:26)
“virtual synth patch from the beeping alert [of the dialysis machine] … continual merging and changing … never a point of conclusion …” (10:05 – 11:04)
“… the click click click sound – I was trying to compare it to an old fashioned shutter slide, as a new chapter begins …” (10:40 – 11:14)
“… the piano was being a tolling bell quite a lot, going ‘dung dung dung’ in the low notes …” 🙂 (11:30 – 12:24)
“the main theme … derived from me trying to reflect … where Rosie’s drawing the dialysis machine with lots of wires and strings … that ‘stringy‘ tune, the twining, wind-y, rising and falling intervals of a 6th …” (12:25 – 14:05)
“… that’s not the sort of thing you normally get to do … to be able to generate the opportunities for the sound to tell the story … with the prison sequence, it’s so dark … but you can hear an awful lot of the prison …” (15:12 – 16:23)
“… [the kestrel sound] introduces a real note of panic … the whole feeling of fear comes across very strongly in that scene …” (16:45 – 17:05)
“… almost a kind of amnesia to the film, with these repeated sequences … the daughter at school, the son in prison … it feels like someone trying to grapple with different memories …” (18:50 – 19:55)
“… a series of deliberately ambiguous sounds … the fact that he was living in both past and present at the same time … the sound of the pouring coffee became the rain in the gutter … the rain led to thunder, which turns out to be a bomb, so back in his memories in Syria again … one big plane of existence, nostalgia and present day suspended reality …” (19:55 – 20:25)
“… that British scene of people rushing past buried in their mobile phones … perhaps all our lives are suspended …!” (21:30)
“One of the most powerful bits is how long we sit on his face as he watches his son get hurt … I fade in a bit of the original speaker … it was such a sad room, there was so much heaviness … and I feel that comes across in that little snippet of audio …” (23:00 – 24:54)
“… the final sequence … in Rosie’s images and in the more emotional music than we’ve had, this is our – hopefully quite tactful – comment: we’re saying, “this is how we feel about it” …” (25:00 – 27:38)
The team who made Suspended, Rosie Wyllie, Catherine Henderson and me, have secured funding for a second film. We have decided to call our group Inscape, after Gerard Manley Hopkins. We think this reflects our specialism of exploring social themes through the subjective experience of the individual, using drawn stop-motion animation and immersive sound and music.
The film will be called Roots and will explore human migration from early history to the present day in a more holistic, poetical way.
Roots is due to release in the autumn. I will be blogging on my processes as I approach the soundtrack, but it is likely to use human voices – children to the elderly – in speech and song.
In the meanwhile, Resonance FM has programmed what looks like an exciting day of programmes this Sunday 8th March for International Women’s Day – and we are part of it!
We will be discussing the artistic and collaborative processes as we made Suspended – and Catherine’s cat, Dotty, made some valuable contributions to the discourse! Our programme is at 9-9.30am UTC, but will be available on Mixcloud afterwards if you’re not in the UK or if you like a lie-in on a Sunday!