Generative Animation – “Scary”
There were some parts of my vision I was willing to compromise for the sake of time and my skill set. Let’s start with the one I wasn’t: the creepy figure could not be a clear shape. It’s easy with pencil to make fade outs and create the effect that the creature has an ambiguous start. Here was my sketch.
I asked myself: what about these lines are fundamentally different from the lines I can draw in P5.js? They’re not straight, in fact, they arc similarly against each other and layer. I thought, this is possible to generate… but maybe someone has already had this desire. And that’s when I searched through P5.js libraries and found the Sketch library. This was perfect: I could draw lines but have the library stylize them for me.
Here’s what I had to compromise: I wanted the background to glow as a result of the lightning. This would require a gradient that is ideally dependent on the position of the lightning strike. But the noise field is too chaotic to use as an attachment to the lightning strike (I tried drawing lines starting one pixel away from the lightning strike and they ended going a completely different direction). I decided the background could glow, and ideally, it’d glow in a radial gradient from the middle. But I did not have time to draw that.
So we have a progression of a creepy dude getting closer to you randomly with each lightning strike, he disappears for a few seconds, then pops up in your face. I think it fit the Halloween season!
For the mobile project portion, I was surprised that there were specific shapes cut out for our videos to go in. My piece only maintained interest with the view of the full piece (it’s possible neither the lightning nor the creeper goes into the limited frame of the shape cut out used in the mobile projection template for multiple seconds).
Speculative Future Video – “It’s All the Same”
The original vision of this piece was this: a man goes about a typical day as he hears the news of the day. We see familiar actions, but we hear an uncanny different world.
Of course, the project developed. As a result of poor planning, I didn’t actually create the audio until the end of my editing process. As a result, I forced myself to focus on the visuals. A good exercise for me, a musician who doesn’t think about that element a lot, but a bad exercise in workflow. The visuals, therefore, became a heavier communicator of the future than I intended. The world differs from ours in that it’s: dreary, lonely, and controlled through text exclusively. I used lighting, color, and pacing to communicate this.
A note about pacing: I found myself caught between fast a slow pacing. For one storyline, it made sense for my character to move sluggishly through his mundane tasks. It brought more weight to the menial things that brightened his day. But I envisioned at least two consecutive storylines, and the changing between the two picked the pacing up drastically. I’m not satisfied with how this landed, but I sold it as much as I could.
So now I’ve mentioned it: the two story arcs. When I put together the first day’s filming, I had a solid A story (he wakes up, makes coffee, pays his bills, then enjoys a glimmer of light). Perhaps I should’ve stuck with that (does Final Cut have version control?). But I was stuck in my original vision and saw the character, on a different day, going outside, listening to different news.
As I wrote the NPR dialogue, I developed a curiosity in making the linearity of the two stories ambiguous. That is, I was interested in making it not clear which one happened second. So while we hear different points of the same story, we don’t know which happened first. For example, we don’t know if the Freelance Mother’s union faced massive firings and then struck a deal with Facebook or vice versa.
But it was still important to communicate that the days were different from each other. And I used panning and coloring to achieve this. The idea is, one is early in the day, one is later. So one is blue, one is orange. And one voice comes out of the right heavier, and one the left. Hopefully, the distinguishing characteristics communicate the different points in time enough to allow for the confusion in linearity. It was ambitious, and needed more than 4 minutes.
Here’s what I would’ve liked: to commit to the faster pacing by using flashier transitions and sound design to keep the pace. And workshop the NPR dialogue to communicate the difference in days more clearly, but still allow for ambiguity. It’s not perfect, but it’s art, I suppose.