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2014 April

09 Apr

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Noah’s Ark lands online

April 9, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

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My film Noah’s Ark is finally online. It’s taken 3 years, but you can now see the film, kindly hosted by North West Film Archive, and shared both on this site, and on the project website. The film was made as part of a residency at NWFA in 2010 set up by Abandon Normal Devices, and features the contributions of Nathan Jones (text) and Carl Brown (music)

Why has it taken so long?

The film is made up of over 70 separate sources which each had to be cleared for use. All were cleared completely fine, apart from one clip (90 seconds) of the Manchester Museum, the rights of which were held by Granada, who had conditions on its use. This section appears before the main film. but it is one of my favourite parts. It features a poem about the Dodo by TS Elliot, as well as shots of the animal exhibits in the museum, and a Museum staff member who provides a cautionary tale about preservation.

I managed to negotiate an exhibition license for screening the clip, at a cost of £350. Sadly the cost of extending that license to dvd and web was prohibitive (£1400). Because of this I have not been able since to share the film as a whole online. Prompted by the release of Aronofsky’s blockbuster version,  I’ve finally bit the bullet and edited Noah’s Ark – cutting that fantastic prologue out of the film in order to share the work. It’s a sad thing, but necessary. When a knot can’t be untied you must cut it off. Hopefully it doesnt impact too much on the enjoyment of the film – the images, text and sound are all extremely rich, and of course, you already know the story.

If there is one overriding message from my film, it is that often in order to preserve something we are forced to make choices about what must be lost. It is difficult, but hopefully those choices force us to reassess what is important, and those things we save will form the foundations of our future stories.

Hopefully the full version, reinstated with dodos, will be screened again properly at a later date (please contact me if you would be interested to do so!).

08 Apr

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Through His Teeth – rehearsal images

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

The second of the show I’m currently working as video designer for is Through His Teeth at the Royal Opera House in London. Again the story is loosely based on Faust – read about  ‘The Crackle’ here, and both shows use designer Becs Andrews’s amazing forced perspective set.

Through His Teeth is directed by Bijan Shebani and tells the story of a woman who falls in love with a conman, and is drawn into his fantasy world of secret service operatives and high living. As a cost she loses her money, her family and her mind, becoming increasingly paranoid that their every move is being watched by secret agents. Remarkably it is based on a true story.

For the show I have decided to use live cctv cameras rigged around the set, to create a constant feeling of being watched. I switch between the 8 separate feeds, whilst also mixing in some pre-prepared location footage (shot as if on cctv) and replaying moments captured onstage from previous scenes. This is done using a number of tools, including cctv camera sna cabling, a video multiplexer and a switcher, two digitisers and Isadora, The result is a very raw video collage of real live action, replayed memory and locative ‘other’ spaces that provide a really interesting background texture to the performers and the story.

read a review here

below are some images from the rehearsal process.

see the full set on Flickr

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08 Apr

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The Crackle – rehearsal images

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments


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I’m currently video designer on two shows at the Royal Opera House in London, both loosely based on Faust. One of those shows is ‘The Crackle‘, by Matthew Herbert, an artist renowned for his work with live and recorded sound, and exploratory technology in a performance setting. It’s a very brave piece, expanding the context of opera to include live foley artists, reactive video projection, spatial sound mixing, unrestrained audience participation via a sonic barcoding app (Chrip), and a huge mechanical instrument called ‘The Dervish’ by MIT genius Andy Cavatorta.  Oh, and 47 children. It’s no small feat. It’s all contained within an amazing forced perspective set by designer Becs Andrews.

The show twists the Faustian story to present a cautionary tale about the possibilities and traps of working with digital media. I’ve been basing my designs around an 8-bit inspired aesthetic – running bespoke animation modules and prepared video through simple effects to give the images a very glitchy playful bitmap feel to them. It’s actually not a million miles away from my knitting work. As always I’m using Isadora, allowing me to utilise live cameras to generate imagery from movement onstage, and also to create some interesting  and dynamic compositing and displacement effects. I’ve also managed to sneak a few punchcard designs in there.

below are some images from the rehearsal process.

see the full set on Flickr