Final year PhD experimental film – ‘Where I Live’

Places, Spaces and Non-narratives.

The film is to be an experimental non-narrative piece comprising of visual portraits of the city and landscape in which I live. The portraits will seek to show the extra-ordinary in some everyday sights of a typical British city – fusing together a variety of photographic and digital cinema imaging techniques with an improvised soundtrack, intense digital audio sculpting and design and abstract audio interviews. Think Peter Greenaway meets Terrence Malik.

The film will combine content shot using the latest mobile phone camera technology, DSLR video recording, 5K sampled Digital Stills Time lapse – right the way through to 4K digital cinema camera recording. It is my intention to employ the various digital acquisition tools listed here to each of the themes the film will explore that are detailed bellow.

5 Act Thematic Structure.

Although the film won’t have a narrative in the conventional sense of the term there will be a rigorous formal structure in place that orders the visual style. The five parts will be as follows;

  1. Flâneur – POV style camera, things as they happen, mobile phone acquisition, walking the city.
  2. Architecture – Views of buildings and city vistas.
  3. Power and Consumption – Gas and Electricity, Gov, People, Energy, Corporate Greed, Visual Media.
  4. Place – Local, global, regional identity, national identity?
  5. Landscape – Escape, the nature of being an island, ports, Dartmoor, the solar system – sky timelapses.

Music and Sound Design.

To elaborate just a little further about my current ideas for creating music for the film as follows – each section of the film will be approximately 5 minutes long, so the aim will be to edit the sequences after all the footage has been shot and begin the sound editing process after the picture edit has been roughed out. The workflow would be roughly:

edit images > create 5 video sequences > sound edit and design audio interviews > design foley and location sounds recorded in the field > remix > master out with video image into Logic > CUE and rehearse rough improvisation to 5 sequences in Logic Pro > Remix the film with improvised music added.

The workflow will allow me to use digital instrumentation alongside live instrumentation and pre-programmed sound design and sculpting to affect how we are able to approach the improvisation as musicians. The music will be performed to a projected image in the studio so that there is something in the performance that harks back to the silent era when music was sometimes performed with films.

Samples and Initial Test Shots.

Rough idea for a look on this shot

Above: This is the first test shot I’ve taken for the film it’s a time lapse of the gas towers opposite our flat. The time lapse really needs to be longer but unfortunately I ended up rained off as the large grey cloud loomed ahead. First lesson learnt is that I need a way of waterproofing the camera in case rain occurs during a long time lapse, and it’s also going to be a very good idea to weigh down the tripod especially when it’s windy (as it was the day I shot this), as any movement of the tripod is going to create a wobble in the lapse. Not good. Finally, it would be great to get some neutral density filters so that I can do longer exposures in daylight which will give smoother time lapse. This can be seen in the second video bellow here (longer exposures possible here without ND as it’s night time).

Ignore the music on the following it’s just there to make something dramatic out of a few shots:

These two brief pieces hopefully demonstrate some of the themes articulated in my outline but in the meantime I await better weather before I can begin to shoot the rushes for this project properly.

The stills bellow show the location the following evening and also the gas towers  being photographed.

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