The Hidden People returns!

Season 2 of The Hidden People will launch on May 14th. I’ve been working hard since Christmas on this second season of the show, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Both the sound and the music go even further than before.

If you haven’t done so yet, do check out my in-depth discussion of artistic choices and techniques in a key action sequence in season 1. I’ve been getting some unexpected – but very welcome! – feedback from several places that it was absorbing and fun to listen to.

It can be found here:

Inscape and Escape – link to Mixcloud edition

The special programme aired on Resonance FM for International Women’s Day 2020 can be heard here. I talk to Rosie Wyllie and Catherine Henderson about the philosophy and techniques in the drawing and the soundtrack and we listen to excerpts from the film. The post of images accompanying the programme can be found here:

Intense geekery!

In this in-depth analysis of the artistic approach and technical choices of my work on The Hidden People, I spend over 50 minutes discussing 4 minutes of content!

There is much interaction here between sound design and musical semiotics and lively, well-constructed writing. I hope you find these things as fascinating as I do.

A link to The Hidden People by Dayton Writers Movement:

Inscape and Escape on Resonance FM

I have some news!

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!

Use these links to access this broadcast:

‘Dreams are Fragile Things’

The penultimate episode of the season!

This draws on lots of familiar music, but there’s some new stuff towards the end, too. Interesting to score disorientation… but I will not say more about that in fear of spoilers.

Sounds include me jumping off my own kitchen table – I’ll leave you to imagine the graceful athleticism – and, once again, the former trained singer was brought out of retirement to do something spooky.

Our film is released

Good morning, everyone. Our film is out.

Please, please share widely. Our purpose, and that of the witness who told his story, was always to raise awareness about why resettlement is necessary sometimes, and about the nature of the Syrian regime.

Many thanks to all the many people who supported us.

This was made in association with charity Herts Welcomes Refugees.

Please be aware that it is a harrowing testimony: see the warning in the description.

Even more on The Hidden People… episode 15

The new Hidden People is released and is perhaps the most fun I’ve had with sound design yet! I also really enjoyed writing musical comments to weave with the sound throughout.

Some geeky facts:

– At the time of writing, this was the largest ever digital audio project I had built, with 244 tracks (though reduced to a mere 237 after directors’ notes!). This has just been exceeded by episode 18, however…

– Fenrir’s tooth extraction was a 20 pence piece scraped on a brick. The tooth fairy had just visited one of my sons so I did think about using a real tooth, but it seemed a bit gross.

– I got to combine 6 different themes from the series in one continual piece of musical underscore in the last few scenes, keeping one beat going throughout, to give the sense of an inevitable pull towards an outcome.

– The seagull you hear as Mackenna and Shaylee abseil down the cliff was from a crazy, prolonged, determined quest for one while on holiday on the Dorset coast in April. It took a lot of time to get one close-up, but it was a beauty. I had no idea when I added it to my sound bank that our seagull friend would be immortalised so quickly!

Moving on: The Hidden People, Episode 14

The latest Hidden People begins a new phase of moving further into fantasy adventure and it’s all a good skills workout for the sound elf behind the scenes. 

Black Annis’ music contains many recorded sounds, some appropriated from my soundscaping, some specially recorded for the music. My favourites are the swallows. Which are me swallowing. With a microphone taped to my throat.

And the narrator finally has some music of his own, heard for the first time in this episode (in the opening teaser).

Hunted, Hunter and the Haunted House

After my discussions the other day of how I might present a haunting-inside-your-head story, it seemed a good time to post this article by Richard Brooks that I really enjoyed. He devotes a whole section to immersive sound and how it can work well for haunted house stories in this age of headphone use.

Here it is!

Discussing Wireless Theatre Company’s 2017 production of Blood and Stone, he says:

“What makes this recording unique for listeners used to a standard mono or stereo configurations, is the degree the individual feels the world is shaped around them. Stimulus doesn’t just come from left or right, but from in front or behind, an experience that can feel immersive but also disorientating. In the climax of the production the the protagonist finds herself in a deadly game of cat and mouse, and for the listener attending to their everyday tasks the dislocation between the world that is seen and heard can be quite jarring — much as computer game enthusiasts often find VR experiences.”

Going beyond this, I wonder if it could add to the creepiness if we were to intersperse a baddie’s point of view from time to time in such stories, which are often about being hunted. Occasionally in film, the view of the victim through the eyes of the unseen hunter is presented, and it can be pretty chilling; psychopath films are the obvious example.

In nature, predators’ eyes are usually close together and forward-facing, in order to focus in on the prey, while the eyes of prey tend to be placed further apart, better to see the whole environment and detect danger. Could this be mirrored in audio by intermittently removing that disorienting immersive perspective and making our gaze instead mimic that controlled, directional focus of the predator’s eyes, omitting all other sound but that of the hunted?

This is another use for switching between immersive and more traditional audio presentations that I think may be effective.

Stories using on/off binaural again – the haunting inside the head!