It’s been a while since I updated the film festival circuit for Jonathan Lyons’ animated short films starring ‘Floyd the Android.’ Floyd will be appearing in one of his two shorts, “Dim Bulb,” at the “Florida Film Festival” from April 13-22.
“Floyd The Android” received the “Best Animation”-award at the “Love Your Shorts”-film festival back in February. The honor was bestowed upon Jonathan in the form of a cool handmade award (machined by Julie Kessler).
I recently worked with animation guru and ‘Theory Animation‘-principal David Andrade to provide the music and sound fx for the trailer of an iOS (Apple’s range of devices) game called “Earthplosion.” I’ve updated the ‘Demo’-page with a ‘Demos & Trailers’-section to include this new (for me) genre of project. We’re working on another trailer; so, I hope to have that up there soon as well.
Squirrelly finished his visit to the 2nd Annual Winter Weekend Film Festival in Skagway, Alaska (February 17-19). He should be getting ready to scamper-off to the 6th annual “Charlotte Film Festival” which is taking place from March 5-27th.
Meanwhile, Floyd (pictured above) won the “Best Animation”-award at the “Love Your Shorts Film Festival” in Sanford, Florida. He also played alongside his aforementioned ‘brother in sound’-Squirrelly (“Nuts for Pizza”) at the Skagway Film Festival.
Floyd will be flying overseas to Portugal for…MONSTRA…the Lisbon Animated Film Festival from March 19-25th. I’ve always wanted to rent-out one of those cliff-side houses in one of Portugal’s coastal small towns. I’d like to think Floyd will be doing that for a few weeks leading up to his screening.
Monstra has some titillating claymation banners on their site:
Jonathan Lyons’ “Floyd the Android” continues to make the festival rounds. Jonathan mentioned on Floyd’s Facebook page that Floyd’s cinematic adventures will be showing at the “New York International Children’s Film Festival” in March. Floyd was one of 100 films selected from around 2500 submissions. That means he’s been subjectively quantified to screen amongst the top 4% of submissions. Good job, Floyd.
Nice little celluloid surfer dude riding the tube under a sunset. I’ve always wanted to surf…but fear the up-wave battle of getting to the sweet spot would be too much of an investment. SO…I enjoy surf photography instead.
The blog masthead actually had a surfer in it; but I photoshopped him to Davey Jones’ Locker — You will not find him or any residual, fading Marty McFly hand shadows. I should work on a logo…or at least decrease the size of the photo.
Ahoy hoy, a quick update regarding Floyd’s adventures around the festival globe.
Floyd cleaning the teleporter
Jonathan, Floyd’s creator/animator, has informed me that Floyd will be appearing at the “Love Your Shorts” film festival in Sanford, Florida from February 10-12th.
Anima - Brussels, 2012
Floyd’s taste for international travel will then be accommodated with a trip to Brussels, Belgium for the “Anima”-film festival from February 17-26th. I visited Brussels in 1999 and almost got run-over by a motorcyclist driving on the sidewalk. This was a few minutes after crossing a road where a buddy of mine almost got hit by a trolley car. I’m glad Floyd doesn’t have to contend with transportation logistics.
Floyd will split his time with our cousins to the North for his Canadian Premiere (!) in Calgary, Alberta for the “Reel Fun Film Festival” taking place between February 20-26th.
In 2005, Talking Heads singer/songwriter David Byrne re-worked an out-of-tune analog pump-organ to manipulate the vibrations of the Färgfabriken, a, by succession, gun, farming combine and finally paint factory built in 1889 in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2008, Byrne brought the idea to a 1909 Beaux Arts municipal ferry terminal, “Battery Maritime Building,” in Lower Manhattan.
Playing the Building, Battery Maritime Building, New York, NY, 2008
Likewise, in 2009, Byrne revisited this idea in the (then) 106-year-old Roundhouse Building in Camden, London (near the Chalk Farm tube stop). This project differed from the ‘bridge sound’-projects (mentioned in a previous post) in that David Byrne was inviting the general public to the performance space, to step-up on the stage and to create the found-music themselves by discovering the language of the acoustic architecture through the keys of the organ. The keys themselves represented three groups of manipulation — resonant motor vibration, forced air and solenoid hammering. The project was called “Playing the Building.”
“As far as space goes, I sense that different architectural spaces “want” to have specific kinds of sounds inside them. The space creates a hole for sounds to fill, psychologically and physically—but only specific sorts of sounds seem to “fit” in each kind of space. The inherent acoustics of a room have far-reaching effects: they make you walk different and talk different. They make you feel different.
- David Byrne
“Buildings make noises: radiators, pipes, creaks and rattles… I sensed that this could be a little more organized and maybe even musical.”
– David Byrne
The sounds of this reiterative project have been described in several articles (posted on his site) as:
like traffic, like construction, like an old building wheezing as you walk by …like a walrus’s burp a wheezing, ghostly choir …like one of the tuba tones played by the mother ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” like a truck on Canal Street with a loose muffler …like when a car or truck goes over an iron trestle bridge an eerie architectural hoot …a sinister cacophony whale noises and subterranean grumbling sounds …like a detuned xylophone as if a tank was approaching from afar
“But the success of the installation is all up to the public. I’m hoping they’ll love the experience of sitting at the organ and making this space come alive.”
- David Byrne
Frank Zappa’s Bicycle:
In 1963, Frank Zappa introduced variety/comedy show host Steve Allen to the bicycle as a musical instrument. Zappa instructed the house band to refrain from tonal sounds as the two played-along with a pre-recorded tape of manipulated sounds (Zappa’s wife playing clarinet for the first time…and some recorded snippets of a woman singing on the radio). This televised performance helps fill-out the spectrum of found sound music and highlights the accretive nature of sound and musical rules that can be broken-down and build-back-up.
Zappa’s inclusion of augmented tape recordings in the performance pays homage to his studies in ‘music concrete’ –To paraphrase music concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer’s description (as referenced in the Wikipedia entry)…”Music Concrete was the collection of ‘concrete’ sounds,’ wherever they came from, and the abstraction of the musical values they were potentially containing.” Schaeffer proposed the term in 1949 — His own studies stem from Marc Battier who proposed “through the transposition of natural sounds, it becomes possible to create chords and dissonances, melodies and symphonies of noise, which are a new and specifically cinematographic music.” Both musicians drew influence from cinematic film techniques and technology (eg. montages, mixing and splicing scenes and perspective shifts).
A running theme amongst the various sound installation performances is the broadening of awareness in music that surrounds us. Our daily routines are generally task-driven and our peripheral awareness for artistic expression is often deafened. Sound is more often associated in unspoken terms as being an asset or a liability in our information processing. Our finite resources for making sense of the world have been honed to attenuate superfluous sounds; and in the process, deafening our ears to the musical language of the sonic world around us.
What we generally consider to be noise can be deconstructed into constituent parts and reconstructed through associations and juxtapositions of the physics therein (musical characteristics such as tone, timbre, rhythm, melody, harmony, etc…).
In each of the examples below, sound artists have sought to bring attention to the often forgotten world of sound that exists in our increasingly urban environment. The focus is often on the deconstruction and reconstruction of sensory awareness — Reducing a complex physical structure that we see and feel, in order to rebuild its architecture from an auditory perspective. This experience broadens and deepens our interaction with the built environment and gives the participant a feeling of comfort through the awareness of a transcendent state amidst the relatively overlooked and mundane.
Or, whatever…for the case of brevity vs. bloviating, here (below) is a Youtube clip from Doug Liman’s 1999 film “Go.” Although drug-induced in this example, the mundane and repetitive task of shopping is remade to be transcendent when the character finds rhythm in the monotone beep of a checkout scanner. I apologize for the “Macarena”-song that ensues.
Golden Gate Bridge:
Rob Kapilow, composer and host of NPR radio show “What Makes It Great,” was commissioned by the Marin Symphony to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge by performing a musical piece on the bridge itself.
Golden Gate Bridge
The yearlong build-up to the performance includes researching the sounds that emanate from the bridge as well as the impressions of those that use the bridge. The finished composition, “Golden Gate Opus,” is scheduled for performance on each side of the bridge in May, 2012.
In an interview with CBS San Francicsco, Kapilow spoke of his interactions with bridge workers: “You go up to an electrician who’s sort of working with their welding, and you say, hi I’m here to write a symphony for the Marin Symphony. And there’s that moment where you think, where can I go first to get away from this conversation?…But then once you start asking, what are the coolest sounds you produce here? They become kids in a toy store.”
The response Kapilow is talking about is one of the interesting outreach moments of researching and recording sounds in the field. It can reinvigorate the perspectives of both the artist and the engineer to bridge their various professions and think in a creative way that combines their interests. A daily task that may become routine and myopic in nature can suddenly explode into a colorful new universe of opportunity. Of course, there are moments when that bridge doesn’t connect; and the interaction, if pressed, is more like performing unanesthetized dentistry on a wolverine.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge:
Bridge Music Radio Station
Previously, in 2009, composer Joseph Bertolozzi used various mallets and contact microphones to hammer-out and record sounds from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge. He was recording sounds for a test library to compose a 45-60 minute suite called “Bridge Music,” which would culminate in a live performance by 22 percussionists and a lone singer in order to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River.
The estimated $1.8 million project fell victim to the 2008 financial crisis; and a live performance was not to be. However, Bertolozzi’s recordings and compositions can be found on his site, at 95.3FM on radios in the parks that flank the bridge and at listening stations on the bridge (from April 1 through Oct 31). His demo song “Bridge Funk” — which would make Amon Tobin very happy — from some of the recordings can also be heard through his online audio player.
Bertolozzi hopes to play, record and conduct a live performance on the Eiffel Tower in time for its 125th anniversary in 2014. As of April 5, 2011, he had received temporary approval to proceed with his plans — He’s currently seeking financing for the project.
In September of 2007, sound artist “China Blue” recorded various sounds on and around the Eiffel Tower. Whereas Joseph Bertolozzi is interested in composing music and conducting a live performance, China Blue recorded the sounds for their inherent nature. She used a mixture of binaural microphones and geophones (generally used for measuring seismic events) plugged into Zoom digital audio recorders. Her website has some low fidelity examples of her recordings, which range from pedestrian ambience to impressionistic drones.
A number of years ago, I made a contact microphone from a Radio Shack doorbell ‘buzzer.’
Homemade contact microphone
I liked the idea of collecting sounds of the inner-workings of machinery from their outside surfaces. I was hoping for the audio equivalent of macro photography or tunneling microscopes; but the sound quality was never very impressive.
I made the mic after reading about sound designer Gary Rydstrom’s use of a contact mic in the film “Minority Report” — He recorded sounds from his washing machine with a contact mic as a sonic element for the mag-lev vehicles in the film. (If you’re curious about the construction of a basic contact mic, this is the set of instructions that I used. Thanks to Erinys, by the way!)
BUT, some more recent applications of contact mics (that would fit-in as futuristic technology in “Minority Report”) have been developed by two researchers.
The two researchers, Bruno Zamborlin and Norbert Schnell — who focus on computer interactions with music/sound — have re-envisioned the use of contact microphones for more than just recording sound from the ‘surface contact’ of an object. They are researching/developing the combination of contact mics and software for sound analysis to create a real-time triggering device and synthesis program for ‘creating’ sounds based on physical attributes of the recorded sound.
Spacial Operating Environment in "Minority Report" (Amblin Entertainment, 2002)
An older, more basic version of this technology would be the “Musical Instrument Digital Interface,” or “MIDI”-protocol developed in the late 1970′s and early 80′s. This protocol had a small library of “events” to instruct a synthesizer or sampler to play or augment a certain sound. The MIDI-library could control variations in musical notation, velocity, volume, vibrato, panning, cues, and tempo.
MIDI keyboards were popular with musicians because they could be paired with infinite variations in software-based sound synthesis and sound samples. MIDI is also used by sound designers in “digital audio workstations,” or “DAWs,” in order to control the augmentation of recorded sound properties.
The development of a contact mic interface entails three main aspects: The creation of a controller, an analyzer and a synthesizer (or event trigger). The microphone acts as the physical interface which sends signals to a piece of software that analyzes various acoustic characteristics (similar to the MIDI-events described above…such as amplitude, frequency, duration). Through software analysis, the acoustic characteristics could then become a set of instructions for a synthesizer to perform and augment an array of sounds…or play-back and augment a pre-recorded sound from a library of samples. If two proximal contact mics are used, the comparison of sound signals from locational or gestural movement could provide instructions for more specific directional applications.
The applications go beyond sound reproduction, however — Indeed, as a controller of software-based instructions, this setup could be used to perform all sorts of tasks: Any application requiring a button, switch, knob/fader, etc…could theoretically be interchangeable with this setup. The window crank — now window button — in your car could be replaced by a hidden contact mic that you control by dragging your finger up or down the side of the door. Knocking on a house door could summon different people by tapping-out a particular cadence. Light dimming, channel surfing, voting, triggering tasks in favorite software applications, etc….
I learned about this research from Christopher Mims’ online article, “Microphone Turns Any Surface into Touch Interface,” on the “technology review“-website published by MIT, on January 3, 2012.
Bruno Zamborlin, Joint PhD in Arts and Computational Technologies between IRCAM/Centre Pompidou in Paris and Goldsmiths, University of London Norbert Schnell, Real-Time Musical Interactions, IRCAM – Centre Pompidou
I’ve updated the Demo Page with David Andrade‘s demo reel. I designed and edited all the sound…except for the dejected man speaking football metaphors about life.
I worked with David on his “Nuts for Pizza” project with Theory Animation. The videogame, film, TV, commercial and internet animation industry is mostly comprised of contractors or project-based hiring; so, animators need to constantly update their demo reels in order to impress new clients.
I was happy to help David with the sound edit/mix for his demo reel after working with him on “Nuts for Pizza.” He’s currently working at High Moon Studios as an in-game and cinematic animator. High Moon recently released their second Transformers game, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
If the audience members can be brought to a point where they will bridge with their own imagination such an extreme distance between picture and sound, they will be rewarded with a correspondingly greater dimensionality of experience. — Walter Murch