Alison Lucy's Blog

Audio Orb- Avon Harmony
June 3, 2010, 23:38
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

I had looked at my animation a lot, particularly after some intense Final Cut Pro sessions. Looking at my previous animation (shown in the post below) I felt it was almost there but not quite. It was the changing light in the background that was bothering me. I’m all for the ‘hand-made feel’ to animations but it was flickering away so much that it became a distraction. Despite spending time creating various actions in Photoshop and batching folders of images to ‘desaturate’ and then alter the levels, it was always a struggle against how the light had already been. There was always variation. A friend came to my rescue in introducing me to creating a ‘mask’ on Final Cut Pro, so that the colour outside of the circle was consistently black. After much fiddling around and waiting for one last painful render I had updated the animation…

I am pleased with how it resembles a sort of ‘peep-hole’ into the Avon Harmony’s sound, and despite  inconsistencies of light within the ‘audio orb’ itself in terms of ‘blackness’ I feel that the character of the piece better reflects the character of the group than a perfectly black and white Flash animation would have.


Animation- Avon Harmony
June 1, 2010, 22:08
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

It was time to start animating. No excuses. I’ve come to the conclusion that in my work I need to have trust the in process and that an outcome will eventually materialise. It’s just a tad daunting when you realise that your outcome is a simple animation because they aren’t exactly well known for being the quickest of activities. In order to carry out this drawn animation I needed to borrow a rather large and heavy piece of equipment home to my flat. The weight of the item was apt for my task ahead. I tried to think positive and just start drawing. And that’s what I did. Many memory cards and camera renewals later (this isn’t that helpful in creating a stop-motion animation) I had started something.

The summer had arrived early and there I was sitting in the sweaty haze of my bedroom, shutting out as much light as humanly possible. However it wasn’t dark enough; I had to work through the day and into the evening and of course the light changed. It didn’t worry me too much at this point, as long as the movements of the shapes were visible and my counting was correct (according to sketchbook scribblings regarding number of frames) I was feeling okay.

Below is the initial outcome to my animation edited to music. This involved much reversing of frames, speeding up, rendering, and general re-jigging. Of highest importance was the editing to the audio so that you felt like you were watching a natural visualisation of what you were hearing.

Animation- Deleted Scene
May 27, 2010, 19:58
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

After today’s tutorial with Kellie I was feeling pleased with the general feedback, I think she liked my general approach but gave useful advice on the visuals. She picked up on a particular sequence of images that were less ‘abstract’ than the rest, I had used a waveform type pattern to depict a particularly high part of the audio. This was less successful and when she pointed out why I agreed. It was too obvious and less ‘flowing’ than the rest. Below is the part that I cut out of my final animation.

Storyboard and Animatic- Avon Harmony
May 22, 2010, 18:31
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

I was finally pleased with my audio so it was time to think of a visual that would compliment this audio and definitely not detract from the sound. Initially I thought about an installation piece including a series of speakers that would re-create this ‘surround -sound’ feeling of being within the rehearsal space but also emphasise the individual sections of the barbershop chorus. Without an exhibition at the end of this project I realised that this would be hard to organise in terms of loaning equipment and finding the space so near to the third year’s degree show. I needed something slightly simpler.

This is when I remembered a sight that I had been looking at for my dissertation- Abstract Comics Blog

I found this abstract take on narrative fascinating. Forcing people to look at the relationships between shapes and the transition between them. I wondered whether this could work in an animation. I listened to my audio again and again thinking of shapes for different parts. I tried to let the audio entirely lead the visual. Below are my final storyboards and animatic.

Audio- Avon Harmony
May 17, 2010, 22:01
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

After much observation and general pondering over what I specifically found interesting about the Avon Harmony group I realised that it was their sound. However it wasn’t solely when they began to sing that I found a heightened degree of interest in my subject. It was the general chit-chat that slowly built up as the members filtered into the Church…the West Country accents and the every day greetings with quick summaries of everyone’s individual weeks. The voices were alive with excitement and character even before they began to sing. Warm-up voice exercises and the sound of individual lead, baritone, bass or tenor groups warming up can’t quite prepare you for when they all come together and sing. Then the place came truly alive.

So the next rehearsal session I came along armed with an Edirol MP3 recorder and found it surprising that the group were just as anxious about this device as they were with the video camera. I plonked it down in the middle of their rehearsal circle and let it do its thing…this didn’t work. However once I got to grips with the recorder and used my headphones to hear exactly what I was recording I could walk around the group whilst they were singing picking up on the variety of vocal parts and interesting remarks here and there. Often it was in-between conversations that were most interesting.

It was after a good 2 and a half hours recording that I realised it was time to create a composition out of this audio. It was important that my non-viable outcome was appropriate to this group and therefore the audio was at this point most important to me. I wanted to recreate the feeling of being there during the rehearsal and get a feel of the characters. I exported various sound ‘effects’ (coughs, laughter, doors slamming etc) and edited these together with conversations and singing. This took a long time to get right including playing with the left/right panning of the speakers so that you could get a feel of the rather ’round’ sound space. Below are screen shots of my editing process, I used Audacity initially to save specific sounds and then Garageband to arrange the edit. There is also a link to my final composition on Soundcloud.

Avon Harmony- Final Edit Audio

Video footage- Avon Harmony
May 10, 2010, 17:06
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

Once the group had agreed to me videoing their rehearsal (apart from two shyer members) I got to grips with the video camera. Unfortunately the tripod had a leg-issue so I had to embrace the hand-held approach. At this stage in my research process i wasn’t quite sure where the project was going to take me but the camera allowed me to observe more closely and further develop an idea of what I found interesting in the group.

Avon Harmony
May 9, 2010, 12:50
Filed under: Non-Viable Document

My first visit to the Avonbelles rehearsal was definitely a memorable one, the journey there was pretty adventurous, a train and a bus ride plus a long walk in search of the Church where they rehearse.  I was quickly greeted by friendly Chairman Margaret Parish before the other member began to pile in, and goodness, were they loud! I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be using the Digital SLR I’d brought along as much as I’d hoped, it was better that I dedicated this first session to trying to chat to as many of these ladies as possible so that they’d feel comfortable enough for me to take video, audio recording etc at future rehearsals. Below is what I collected at future rehearsals when they were a bit more comfortable with my presence!