4D | “磨刀师” Installation


Mdm Lee is one of the last knife sharpeners that’s left in Singapore. The purpose of this installation is to introduce one of the least known traditional manual labour profession that will soon be rendered obsolete in the face of modernity. When will we ever stop destroying what is ours? 

“The Knife Lady” film will be played on loop – https://vimeo.com/209626431
Video is available at the end of the post!

Re-creating Mdm Li’s workspace by showing a “moment” of how it looks like when she works. 


This was the film that I’ve done in Project 2 and was projected in loop during the installation.

That’s all folks! See you Foundation 4D and Robert 😉

4D | Final Film Edits

Final Film Editing Process

The first issue I faced while doing this film was basically the background noise, which was a reaaaally loud ventilator that is located near the shop. I didn’t really like how the audio sound like as the white noise is kinda loud, and went to find ways to reduce the background noise. Thus, I did some research and found out about this new software, Adobe Audition!! To mention again… it’s my first time using Premiere Pro and I was nearly dying and wanted to go back to my iMove. So, by adding a new software and having to finish editing in a week, it’s kinda an overkill. But!! Apparently it was quite easy to use, thanks to Youtube.

So basically it’s really cool as you just have to click the audio and select “Edit in Audition CC”, and it will bring you to the software itself. The best part is, when you’ve edited the audio in Audition, you don’t have to save it as another file, simply save it on the software and Premiere Pro will update the audio!! So this is how I edited and lower the background noise:

As you can see, the noise level was relatively reduced. You can’t really reduce it to its lowest because it will create this weird screeching hum while throughout the audio. So the background noise can still be heard but it’s slightly better. Here are two examples!

Original Audio

Edited Audio

I might have edited this a little too much as you can hear a kind of weird hum in the background, but it’s ok! I’ve sort of “cheated” abit by adding a background noise in another layer, that plays throughout the entire video so that there will be a consistency in the white noise.

Overall, besides learning two new softwares which is gonna be really useful for me in the future, I felt that I’ve sort of learnt how to make do with the footage that I have and work around it, be it not having the audio or the scene I want. Because in the end, there will be a way to edit it and make it work!

Difficulties Faced
The thing about my film is that I felt I’ve toooo much content that I’ve filmed but of course… the more the merrier as that gave me more options to choose from. However, the issue I faced was that there’s so much content that I don’t really know what to put in my video.

So for my first edit, I ended up overlaying too much conversation audio that even I myself felt it was too much and too distracting from the visuals. Of course I had to consult someone, so credits to  Crystal who is much more experienced with film-making, she mentioned that I should give my film some breathing space and not add too much talking in it. Sometimes, quiet is always better so that the audience will be able to focus on the visuals instead. 

A Breath of Fresh Air
As it’s my first time doing a documentary style kinda film, I had difficulty of not knowing which scene to use and which audio to overlay it. I guess it’s a try and error thing? Another thing that frustrates me the most would be the inconsistency of the audio as the background noise would be softer or louder at some point of time and it too me really long to tweak it till my liking! 

All in all, I am really happy with my final product as I guess it’s a new thing for me and I’m really satisfied with the results! 🙂 Who knows I might fall in love with filming? (which is something that I never thought I would do)

4D | 磨刀师

The Knife Lady

A short film based on Mdm Lee, who is one of the last knife sharpeners that are left in Singapore. The purpose of this film is to introduce one of the least known traditional manual labour profession that will soon be rendered obsolete in the face of modernity. When will we ever stop destroying what is ours? 

This film is a continuation of my >22 series which talks about the traditional trades that are slowly vanishing. The knife sharpener wasn’t included in that publication as I forgot to put her inside… but here is a bigger scale and a video of her! But anyway, the reason why I chose her among all of the trades I found is that she’s the most interesting and least known among the modern society. Even I did not know that there is a profession that sharpens purely knives. Thus, I decided that it would be interesting for me to approach this new trade that I’ve never seen nor heard before and find out about its heritage, art and culture. 

After spending 3 days with her, there really is an art behind the knife sharpening. The skill and control she has while she free handedly buffers the knife, with sparks flying onto her apron with not a single flinch was made when it touches her leathery skin. She holds the knife with such grace and strength while she scraps in a certain angle across the rustic stone as she splatters water onto it for a smoother surface. What I was witnessing was 47 years of knife sharpening experience contained in that small shop of hers, tucked in a corner of People’s Park Centre.

4D | “刀” Filming Day 3

I’m back again with Day 3!!! So what happened was… after viewing my videos on Saturday I started panicking as submission is like… on the coming Thursday. I was worried that I would be bothering her again as the things I need to reshoot are the “prep” shots which she does in the morning. But I called Mdm Lee and told her about it and she was so like “不用急,慢慢来,我会等你。” I’m like omg is she a saint or what!!! Thank god for letting me meet such a nice lady that is so willing to be in my film T_T So on Monday, after my morning class, I rushed down to Chinatown and only managed to reach her shop at around 1pm+. 

Ultimately I was still quite pissed at myself for screwing up the previous shots on Saturday as I really like the content I shot but the visuals were just…. horrible and unusable due to the flickering. Here are the shots that I took on Monday!!!! It was such a relieve after I manage to shoot what I wanted to include as my opening of my film. Mdm Lee is the bestttttt. Here’s a photo with the adorable Mdm Lee :))

And somemore shots of the old, rustic shop!

The tools that she uses are all chucked into a old cardboard box.

The stones she uses for sharpening her knives.

The film shots for the day~ & I am done!!!!