Monday, October 17, 2011

Sound and image relationships

This is a video of an undergraduate music student from the University of Indiana. In this video he covers the Fleet Foxes song Winter Hymnal. He plays all the instruments on the track. Sometimes you'll see multiple people playing, however this is an editing trick!

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The first shot is set in a basement. There are three men wearing head phones and upright basses. One is to the far right, and another is to the far left. The man in the center starts the piece first and it seems as if the other players are watching him as they join in. This is actually the same man in three different outfits. He positioned himself in three different places in the room and spliced all three pictures together to achieve the desired shot.

The first of a recurring theme, there is a hard cut to a close up of someone strumming a guitar as the sound of a guitar cuts into the mix. Shortly afterwards, it cuts back to the three bass players. It cuts again to the guitar player with a close up of the hand changing between chords before going back to the bass players again.

At 0:42 several instruments come in at once as the three bass players fade out. There is pizzicato bass (bass played with fingers), percussion, and whistling. Since he is unable to do all three at once the camera does a hard cut to first him playing 'drums' on the side of his bass, so him playing pizzicato from the top of the fretboard, and then to a side shot of him playing the melody with the bow, until another close up of him whistling. Then it cues back to the original shot of the three bassists as their 'track' kicks in again.

The rest of the video follows roughly the same format of doing hard cuts to whatever instruments happen to be playing and only using the same handful of shots. The song ends where it starts as the three bass players each begin to put down their instruments.

The length and choice of shots is dependent on which section of the song is being played. There are two main sections of the song and two main groups of shots which the maker used. The first is the three bass players and the guitar. The second group has the pizzicato and arco (bowed) bass, the whistling, and the drumming on the side of bass for the percussion track.

The cuts are nearly all jump cuts. Each group of shots was filmed in different locations and they're all by the same person so there isn't much of an issue of continuity. The only instance of a match cut is during the second shot sequence when he goes from playing upright with his fingers, to with a bow.

The order of the shots is ostensibly to line up with the instruments being played. However each sequence has multiple instruments, with the second being reasonably complicated as several instruments start at the same time. The creator simply chose whichever he felt like it seems.

There really wasn't a right or a wrong place to cut. The creator was more concerned about making a song than a cogent storyline. He simply did what was easiest to him, which was matching up video of him recording each of the different tracks, and then assembling them all together later. Of course there is some artistic license, but that is the general idea.

There is one thing I'd like to note that I didn't realize until later on. The first sequence was filmed in a basement, and when it switches to guitar, the video is still slightly dark. The second sequence is shot in a brightly lit room that's probably his dorm room. I'm not sure if this was intentional or just because he recorded and filmed in two different locations.

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