Aside

Update from inside the editor’s crypt

Hello! How are you? Good.

For those of you who have just joined us,

my name is Taran and I make films.

A little while ago I entered a creative brief held by

Ideastap to join the BFI Doc Next Media Lab.

Our first assigned project was to make a short experimental doc.

The making of ‘Seeing Sounds & Hearing Colours’

No brief. No Guidelines. Sounds too perfect to be true, right? Well, it’s a challenge alright. Being a freelancer involves you developing certain habits when working with clients. Through Pre-to-Post production, meticulous plans can be disrupted with time/money constraints, presenter/crew problems, etc. and guidelines and drafts were what I become familiar with, especially over the last few years being influenced by and getting the chance to work with great creative minds (you know who you are).
My film, with no brief, and no guidelines, became a bit of a journey… at least a very mild-mannered journey. Involving Megabus.  While I was involved in building a media hub in Coexist’s Hamilton House space I met an artist, and was quite taken back by the level of intricacy and layers in colours in this piece of art that caught my eye one day. It was a piece done by Amy Timms, who I later found out had synesthesia. We talked at length and I began recording her, without any purpose at that time, just as research. We talked about the days of the week and the colours, textures and emotions connected to sound.
You ever get when you’re just interested in something you want as much information as possible? I get that a lot. I live for those tiny obsessive information overloads.

During my research stage I found Oliver Sack’s ‘Musicophilia – Tales of Music and the Brain’ and it has a great chapter on ‘Synesthesia and Music’. I began to drift back into the EXPERIMENTAL frame of mind. I’d lost myself in information and was only brought out by my mentor for the programme, Phillip Warnell.

I wanted to find a way of displaying the visual elements being described as the experience was happening. After considering many different aspects I picked two music producers, one with and one without synesthesia.
I was considering using Saint-Saens or Beethoven as a soundtrack, but understood their may already be certain unconscious influences to how they might perceive classical music, but was equally curious to hear what they made of  a piece of music I wrote myself.

I began to see it in a different light; the visually escapist story I attach to my own music must be entirely different to others. What could they be exactly.
This piece of music was a special experience for me. The album took two years of finely crafting a personal escapism from reality. It is set to the ideas behind spacecraft eventually being able to launch from earth and travel through a black hole. I envisaged the warps, blips, thuds, and transformed it into a progressive soundscape journey of electronic music.
So as you can see; with such a visual piece of music I was eager to gain some outside perspective.

This is where Singer/songwriter music producer Suzy Condrad came in.
We had worked a few times before, but at a special gig in the Leftbank – we began to discuss the ideas of this (still unborn) project surrounding the language of music and visuals. Suzy has synesthesia. I’d seen her play possibly fifteen times in and around Bristol over the last few years,

To cut a long night short; I the next week I visited Suzy in her studio and we began recording bits and bobs, Including a response to a particular song I had based in A=432Hz for a subconscious warming feeling and atmosphere while she had the earphones on.

You can watch the film for an indepth response 😉

A few weeks later I found myself in the presence of a technical wizard, Matt Olden. I’ve always been awestruck at what this guy has accomplished and in the past ten years of Bristol residence I’ve met him at the most random doos. Whether it’s making drum&bass grindcore from scrapyards, deconstructing pianos for installation… I eventually joined him to play in Tate Britain.
So I knew this guy could give me some sort of outlandish image to work with,   or a more structural pattern-based element I heard from I Am The Mighty Jungulator’s music/VJ software developer . Both Matt and Suzy were amazing at allowing the development and structure of such a delicate process to flourish.

So yes, I’ve rambled on. That film is called ‘Seeing Sound and Hearing Colour’ on vimeo. Recently it got screened at London’s ‘Exploding Cinema’ event!

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Aside

It’s time for…

It’s time for a blogpost! Are you excited too?! Thought not!

So where were we… my first experimental short documentary for the BFI is finished. Or, as near as complete as I can envisage it. I’ve been collecting peoples thoughts and feelings on the piece for a few weeks. Organised small gatherings and screenings, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to feel about it yet. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I finish a project I have to leave it. Let it settle, even let it gather dust, before I feel like I can return to it. This is a very annoying way to work… and I really should learn to deal with it. But when you put your heart into something so intense as writing, producing, filming and editing your own documentary with very little guidelines as to how it should present itself, it’s hard to leave the edit completely happy. There will always be moments of doubt while you attempt something completely original. That was my only guideline for myself. Be nothing but ORIGINAL.

So, I began by playing a song from an album I produced. To my ears, it can only be described as electro spaceporn music.

I played this song to two friends of mine, both music producers based in Bristol. Matthew Olden is a video artist/VJ and independent AV software developer. Recently he has been touring installations, so I felt quite lucky I was able to catch him while I could. I’ve known him almost 10 years, but we’re both so busy and in our own worlds that it’s hard to predict when paths will cross!

I wanted to talk to Matthew because he is a master at visualizing epic soundscapes. He’s been using homemade technology to change the way producers are able to use samples and input devices. He’s also been quite influential in the way I produce music too!

Suzy Condrad is a singer/songwriter and music producer I met last year while organizing music events in Bristol. After playing at various gigs for my company, and being totally engrossed in her music, I found out she had synesthesia.

Matthew gave me a rather lucid, story-teller element to describe what he was hearing.

Suzy helped construct a colour palette of sound, using shape and an emotive response linked to my music.

After the initial first listening, I took all of the descriptions of what was being heard and whacked em into the magic machine. So the graphics you can see are directly linked to the range of notes and correlating emotive response from both a synesthetic (Suzy) and atypical (Matt) music producer mind.

It’s such an odd process I’m still getting my head around it to be able to describe to people, so I hope this absurd gibberish doesn’t hinder the watching/listening experience.