In Project 3, we work on a larger scale as we play with sounds and visuals. For the final artwork, we were tasked to produce a 1-min video based on a place we’ve never been to.
With that said, I first started by listing 30 places I’ve never been to as a class exercise. My places included locations such as Disneyland, North Korea, inside a whale’s stomach and finally, Bermuda Triangle.
As you would know, I went with the Bermuda Triangle as I found that place to be mysterious and intriguing. That location has been long been an unsolved mystery and no one really knew what happened there. I thought this unknown quality of the place would allow many different possibilities on how I could express the place.
As for the medium, I thought of using photographs or moving images as I felt that those would be a better fit for that mysterious mood. I was also inspired by abstract and experimental films. I looked up experimental space films on Vimeo and those which caught my eye were:
Additionally, I also enjoyed an early abstract film, Filmstudie  by Hans Richter.
In those films, there wasn’t a clear narrative or story line. Instead, there could be shapes or forms to suggest something. There could be repetitive visuals and along with the sounds or music added, the films evoke some sort of emotions or feelings within the audience. I thought that an abstract, experimental style would be fitting for my location as it would be difficult for me to get actual representational shots of the Bermuda Triangle. I also liked that the film could be opened up to the viewer’s interpretation.
The background story follows a pilot as he flies over the Bermuda Triangle and enters another dimension. As seen, none of the scenes are actual representations but more suggestive.
- Instead of an airplane, I thought of using clouds to suggest being in the sky.
- The faulty compass would suggest being lost, or interference of the magnetic force.
- A walkie-talkie shot suggest a frantic SOS call to the radio tower for help.
- A black screen to create suspense as the pilot is teleported to the other dimension.
- The next scenes would suggest the scenery the pilot sees at the other dimension.
- For the clouds, there could be background noises as if one is really in a plane.
- For the compass, I thought of mimicking the sound of its pin moving by tapping on metal.
- For the walkie-talkie, I wanted a reenactment of a distress call, whereby the voice sounds as if it was transmitted over radio.
- The black screen will be in silence to further add on to the suspense.
- The other dimensional scenes will sound un-earthly and perhaps space-like.
For the sky, I simply captured shots of clouds and later took a fast-forwarded time-lapse of the clouds moving.
I bought a compass and came up with the second shot.
I ran into a bit of trouble for the walkie-talkie shot as I couldn’t find any suitable ones at toy stores. I had to think of how else I could capture that scene, I thought perhaps I could take a close-up shot of a radio, or take a shot of my home telephone, that’s when I explored the electronics of my home and found these.
I thought if I combined the two together and take from an angle, it might resemble a actual walkie talkie. So I did exactly that and here are first test shots-
And here’s what made it to the final cut
As for the un-earthly dimension scenes, I actually felt quite lost at first as they were quite abstract and I didn’t know how exactly I could portray them. I first tried to think of locations which might look quite alien-like. I also thought of using colouring or soap, or getting a lava lamp. However, I realised these were all time-consuming and I tried to think of a more time and cost-effective method. That was when I thought of playing with lights.
So I sat in my room in the dark and started playing with my torch light. I then realised I wanted coloured light in my composition and thought about getting coloured LEDs but me being a fairly broke and cost-conscious(cheapskate) student suggested me against that. Instead, I chose a more savvy method where I could shine my torchlight on a translucent coloured platform and achieve coloured lighting.
the set up
In the dark
Achieving pink light
Also, while I was at the toy store, I found myself being drawn to this ball toy. It’s spiky and gives off pink/blue flashes of light which I thought I could use for my “alien” world.
Also, I FORGOT TO MENTION THIS DURING PRESENTATION
but you might wonder where this red light came from when I’ve only mentioned white,blue and pink light. Well, it’s actually from what you might be holding on to right now.
It’s the light from a computer mouse. (more cheap filming hacks)
So I shone that onto the wall and on my ball toy and it helped to create a spookier effect.
FINAL STORYBOARD AND SOUNDS
As my shots became closer to the final thing, I started adding in sounds to enhance its vibe.
Here, I mimicked the pin by tapping against a metal ruler.
I got my brother to voice this scene for me and then I edited the recording on Audacity to make it sound like a radio transmission.
As the scene transition to dark when the pilot is transporting to the other dimension, I added this chilling tune found online for a build up to the suspense.
For the alternate dimension scenes, I used these two space-like background music from online sources to create the mood.
Lastly, I used the triangle I had at home for the final scenes as I thought the high pitch of the instrument would add on to the suspense and chilling mood of the other world. I also wanted there to be a rhythmic sequence to the end where it goes ‘ding’ ,’ding’, ‘ding’ and the screen goes black and there is just one loud final ‘Ding’ -ends.
I compiled the shots I took and the sounds into iMovie where I edited the shots, layered the sounds and adjusted their volumes accordingly to form the final video.
In the video, the first scenes before the pilot enters the other dimension showed a sense of irregularity, where the audience wouldn’t know what would happen next, giving it anticipation. Then, as the scenes ventures into the alternate dimension, there is more sense of rhythm and repetition.
In this composition, there is not much of a movement, most of the shots are actually quite still or slow. This is to add to the suspense and also to allow the audience to focus on what is showing on the screen.
For this piece, perhaps there was not much on causality as most of the audience did not know what to expect while watching the video. However, perhaps the frantic distress call or the suspenseful sounds I added could foreshadow the pilot was getting into some kind of trouble.
There was a restriction of keeping the video to 1 minute but I feel like this was a piece which could have been better if it was longer since it was a much slower film.
I thought this was a really interesting project which allowed me to think out of the box as I did a lot of experimentation with all the camera angles, props and sounds. I also had fun sharing my process with the class.