Day 9 – Amassing improvs

A short day today – went to the osteopath earlier and my arm has been so thoroughly deknotted that I can see the bruises rising already, so feeling like rest might be a good thing! – but I wanted to push on with running a few more improv versions of the piece. I’ve recorded 3 of them today, so have 6 in total – 4 to go before I settle on one. One thing to say that has me a little concerned for the final version – these files are HUGE. The 7 minutes of no. 6 takes up 3.28GB! EEEEEEK! Might need to invest in a new backup disk…

Anyway, the first improv I did today was an experiment in switching round the videos to see what would happen – so the Gravesend river footage had the sketch effect applied, while the paper photos went through the Chromakeyr. No sound because only the Chromakeyr player is wired to the sound output, and the paper video has no sound. Some nice effects, a lot more static (mostly because there was no zoom control on the river and zooming doesn’t do much to the paper except make it blurry), but quite elegant with the sketch filter applied to properly moving image. Nice, but I doubt it’ll be the final version.


Screensnap: Inverse improv
Screensnap: Inverse version (click to view larger)


The other two improvisations use the videos in their normal positions and so have sound. The experience with improv no. 3, with the sudden shocking start to the audio as soon as I moved the crossfader control, led me to test a couple of new versions – no. 5 starts with 100% river footage (so silent), while 6 starts with the river with a light overlay of the paper, with very quiet sound. I think 6 works a bit better than 5 for the start, although I do like the idea of starting with just the paper and the river sound up full. Might test this tomorrow.

I’m gradually building up a bit of a language, I feel, as I work through these. I’m finding I’m coming back to certain combinations and lingering on certain things (hurrah for the pause button! This is really coming in handy now, in spite of the lag between pressing it and getting a response [although this seems to be less of a problem now, possibly because of implementing smoother transitions as the automation moves between slider positions]):

  • With the paper, starting with the plain footage, then gradually crossfading in the sketched version so that it outlines the ‘real’ image
  • With the river, playing about with the key colour select in Chromakeyr while the paper is set to 100% sketched, high contrast, so that the square scribbles of the sketch flicker on and off in the water
  • Zooming out on the river so it is surrounded by a wide black border, with the Chromakeyr effect just described and the rest of the current paper image just visible as a texture on the black
Improv 5 screensnap
Screensnap: Improv 5 (click to view larger)


I also received the second of my video art books today, in nice time for the weekend (also nice time for potentially not getting much done tomorrow if this arm-bruising comes up much further!) – Michael Rush’s Video Art, published by Thames & Hudson. It’s looking like a pretty good introduction, and I’m particularly interested to get to chapter 3, ‘Video and the New Narrative’ to see what he says. From what I can tell, this book should be a good general introduction to video art, with a big emphasis on pictures, while the other one I have, Florence de Meredieu’s Digital and Video Art, looks a bit more detailed.

I’ve started thinking a bit more too about how to combine all this stuff once I’m done creating it. I’m currently also working on a piece for amateur orchestra and am thinking about how it might be possible to use the idea of foreground/middle-ground/background in the compilation process – to maybe treat all these bits as if they were instruments in an orchestra – some the centre of attention, some burbling in the background for texture, some having a rest. I’m leaning towards at least an attempt at the compilation patch being a fully automated system working with a set duration for the whole thing. I don’t know why that appeals to me, but it does. I guess with all the components having been improvised (even if they also include a certain amount of automation), I’d be interested to see how a programmed final product turns out. Suspect it might take a few different attempts at patches to get it working in a way that I’m happy with. Just need to try really, I guess.

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