Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: a hypothesis that the structure of a language determines or greatly influences the modes of thought and behaviour characteristic of the culture in which it is spoken
Molly Bloom’s Monologue (by James Joyce)
My location was that of the unconscious mind.
I first encountered the concept of stream of consciousness in my study of modern literature, and for some reason it was the first thing I thought of when it came to creating a video based on sound. It’s easy to express that flow through words, and my dreams move by means of flowing images, often only so sparsely interlinked to form a bizarre narrative. What about sound? What if your thoughts were defined by sound, such that each sound flows into each other to create a stream powered by such?
With that in mind, I did a quick survey among fellow choir mates to figure out if that was actually a thing.
- “I usually think in dialogue”
- “i’ll hear myself think apple then i’ll see the image of an apple”
- “when I am thinking I use sound, when I am memorising I use image”
- “read up on the Whorfian hypothesis”
- “when I think its always visual, sound comes when it’s like applicable”
What I got out of it, really, is that it’s not implausible. Plenty of people think through sound, though for some it’s only an accessory. (Also, I DID read up on the hypothesis, and it was somewhat helpful in my understanding!)
Consequently, for my sounds I tried to create a coherent soundscape which would have the sounds flowing into each other naturally, even if it seems to be incomprehensible when seen altogether. Here’s a table of the sounds, and the logic behind the association.
|Bus Ambience||Based off setting directly|
|Traffic Jam||Thematic similarity (transport)|
|Car Crash||Thematic similarity (transport)|
|Falling Glass||Similar/chronological sound (glass shatter of crash, falling glass)|
|Chimes||Timbre (tinkling of glass and tinkling of chimes)|
|Choral||Sound connotations (ephemeral sounds)|
|Song||Sound type (musical quality)|
|Heartbeat||Tempo (bass of the song, beating of the heart)|
|Bowling||Similar/chronological sound (beat of heart, ball hitting ground)|
|Crows||Similar/chronological sound (loud sound startling crows)|
|Thunder/Organ||Thematic similarity (ominous cawing with thunder and vampires)|
|Singing Glass||Pitch (same pitch, D4)|
|Mist||Sound connotations (airy fairy sensation)|
|Sigh||Sound connotations (melancholy)|
|Drip||Sound connotations (melancholy)|
|Bell||NA. Sequence breaker|
|Footstep||NA. Real life sequential sound|
The sounds were a mixture of mostly recorded sounds with some downloaded ones: where possible/necessary, I provided sound myself, e.g. Bus, Choral, Song, Organ, Bowling, etc. There was fairly little sound editing, other than fades and crops, and just specific timing as to when to have the sound come in.
For the video itself I used 2 styles, that of live action and animation, to highlight the disjunct between the real and unconscious world. In the unconscious world I had intended to use various styles to highlight the bizarre and incomprehensible nature of the stream of thoughts, which was minimised after Lei suggested that it might be too much. Overall, though, I focused on the transitions, making each scene short and simple but with elaborate transitions into the other scenes (mostly because it was difficult to link such unrelated scenes together) (I referenced this, by the way).
As the guiding force was the sound, I went with images which would likely instantly be associated upon hearing the sound rather than anything particularly abstract (e.g. cawing = crows). The main style was black (actually dark brown) and white solid shapes, such that I could easily transition by flipping the positive and negative spaces. I DID deviate, though, especially for scenes which required some level of detail, which couldn’t be expressed properly through solid lines due to an unstable form, or required colour for easier comprehension.
My process was as follows.
- Draw key frames in Paint Tool SAI (it’s lightweight, so it’s good for animation in that I don’t need to focus too much on great key frames anyway)
- Create short frame animations for each event/asset (e.g. pins turning into crows, moving lips, crows flying) in Photoshop
- Import and layer together in Adobe After Effects (mainly to determine things like framing, position changes, scale changes, etc)
To prevent it from becoming too clogged (since I have many elements), I did each scene in a different composition, before importing those compositions into the final composition. I did a lot of RAM previews to ensure the timing was right, too.
Sample of key frames, where I only had 5 for the vampire. Note the lack of eyes, which is because I had already established this would be a looping sequence, while the movement of the eyes is separate from that of the movement of the vampire and hence requires a separate frame animation (I would later overlay the two.)
Sample of short frame animations which were layered together to form the scene. In distinguishing elements, I was able to create a rough estimation of the likely timing, then use Time Remapping/Time Stretch to make minor adjustments, instead of prepping elements from scratch in After Effects.