Welcome to the RADIOLARIANS release post!
Grab your headphones, pump up the volume and fasten your seat belt because this is a blast! Enjoy handcrafted organic visuals with a guaranteed never-seen-before-effect and the awesome music by All Buttons In before we get to the meat of this project!
Getting a film finished can be a long and hard way, full of setbacks, doubts and dissatisfaction. This was exactly the case with SINGULARITY where I struggled again and again before I finally found an elaborate way out of my creative dilemma. RADIOLARIANS was different because it came to me by itself. I found the liquids, the method and the pattern easily. But frankly, I also got stuck midway as I always do and probably that’s just how it has to be. In fact, the film turned out completely different than it was supposed to be.
But first things first. As I wrote in my previous post, one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was the missing preview while recording as the footage had to be inverted in post production to see its full potential. Before editing, I usually check my footage, set ins and outs and sort the clips in 3 folders in Premiere Pro:
That helps getting the clips in line with my conception. But during this project I first had to paste all the footage in full length on the timeline, invert all clips and then scroll through it. This was very inefficient and slow and also complicated the process of building structure and sequences. But I simply had to make this detour.
Some behind the scenes pictures. Can you see the pattern emerge?
While browsing through my footage and selecting clips I also realized that I needed some more shots. I had way to much long shots but almost no really close pictures of the decomposed ink, that is the thousands of tiny dots. From a narrative point of view, I wanted to introduce the dots first and then reveal the full size and shape of the pattern. But how to get from a macro long shot to a macro close up?
How to get from here (macro longshot, reproduction scale of 1:1)…
…to here (macro super close up, reproduction scale unknown)?
I decided to buy the Yasuhara Nanoha Macro Lens which offers a magnification of up to 5:1 and got pretty exited when it arrived, but I was hardly disappointed by the optical quality of it. My images were blurry and hazy and I immediately returned the unit. As I could not afford a Canon MP-E 65mm, the only option left was to use extension tubes which were compatible to my Canon FD macro lens. I found a bunch of extension sets on ebay and stacked them to the absolute maximum where it was almost impossible to focus anymore and the loss of light was hardly any acceptable. But I managed to get a handful of really good clips which I denoised and sharpened with Neat Video in post. That worked out really well as you can see in the beginning of Radiolarians.
Then, I proceeded like I usually do, a mingle-mangle between editing, color correcting and denoising, searching for music and sounds and so on. I had a concrete idea of the editing style and the type of music I wanted: long clips, few and seamless cuts and no keyframe animation. The motion pictures should have been accompanied with atmospheric and cinematic music to make this a real epic piece. I found quite a good selection of songs on themusicbed and the one I finally picked worked well with my video, but somehow I was not satisfied. I rearranged my montage, recorded more specific clips to fill gaps and tried everything I could to make this film work – and I failed. Radiolarians was nice and beautiful, but it was boring at the same time. I probably would have skipped this video after a minute if someone else would have uploaded it.
I didn’t touch the project for quite a while because I simply had no idea how to go on. The solution for my problem was kind of a trick I used several times successfully and this time was no exception. As I was browsing through soundcloud for new music, I stumbled upon some dope electronic music tracks, very dark, glitch and dirty. I was so done with my standard playlist that these dubstep tracks I was listening to were the exact breeze of fresh air I needed.
So here’s the trick: if you get completely stuck in a project – no matter what it is – and you are not able to find a solution:
My first “final” version of RADIOLARIANS went to the trash bin and I started a new blank sequence. The rest was a matter of about 3 days. The amazing song “Brocken Spectre” from All Buttons In showed me the way from start to finish. No more sentimental and cinematic editing, it became a rapid and accelerated montage with super short hold times, hard jump cuts, reversed clips and speed ramps. I developed a completely new middle part and used simple but effective motion animation, layered some clips and made use of the Adobe blending modes. I never left Premiere and stayed strictly 2D, no After Effects, no retouching, no plugins. I exploited the maximum potential of my footage and there was nothing else to do. Lesson learned!
A selection of freeze frames from Singularity, copyright R. De Giuli, 2016.