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Girl With a Suitcase

Girl With a Suitcase (2022)

Artistic Context

With a background steeped in music and stagecraft, I find myself drawn to sound. Our perceptions of sound especially interest me in the context of narrative or emotional storytelling.

Over the last year, I have lived close to water. I have observed that even the fast flowing rush of water, a sound easily dismissed as white noise, is actually dramatically varied and musically nuanced. The incredible range of sounds made by water is a sonic landscape that appeals to me. In ‘Girl With a Suitcase’ I am drawing on water as an original intangible essence; that which is in all things yet cannot be grasped.

Each of us is Sisyphus, engaged in some fruitless labour we can’t quite articulate the futility of, but we see each effort poured out drop by drop on the floor.

The performance by Rosie B and her input into the nameless character sparked a creative collaboration with great potential. The use of colour and light in this work is sentimental but like the mise-en-scene is deliberately nondescript.

The audience is invited to inhabit this space introspectively, to project themselves onto the blank spaces. Exaggerating the colour saturation and over-exposing the image creates a sense of ‘analogue’ that is commonly associated with family photo albums. This inviting warmth feels familiar, safe and tactile, allowing for a more receptive exploration of this existential fear of meaninglessness.

Technical Considerations

Understanding the colour palette:

It is difficult to balance the emotions of this performance. One aspect is the eternal nature which can be achieved in part by looping the video but also by trying to avoid strong period references. The use of highly saturated and slightly over exposed images evokes a vague sense of nostalgia, like looking through family photographs. Shooting in an autumnal parkland really lends itself to the aesthetic with deep red and brown tones almost appearing sepia without editing.

Masking moving images:

In performance art it is quite common to be interrupted, and while the act of filming gave us multiple takes of the different parts of the performance, we only got 2 takes before having to refill the water container and carry it back across the park. In the end this meant that some images needed fixing. In particular, when Rosie goes up the stairs, there are people walking along the path above her. For sections that couldn’t be edited around, I masked the people out using some spare footage I had with nobody in the frame, feathering deeply so it is hard to see the line where trees are blowing in different breezes.

Camera & Lens Selection:

Choice of a DSLR was based on compatibility with a 70mm lens for the close-ups I wanted. I would love to try these shots again with the Blackmagic cameras that are now available in the store as the larger viewscreen and moving image centred workflow would have produced better images. On the other hand, the tracking shots captured by a DJI Osmo+ may have been harder to match than they were to the Canon.

Shots:

Close-up shots from a distance give a sense of voyeurism, inviting the audience into an emotionally participatory space. Most framing in static 50mm, coupled with grading for an unspecified vintage effect that is more about nostalgia than any period. By fixing the camera positions in a way that makes good use of the landscape, the image of the body changes dramatically between in focus and out, as well as appearing far away to begin with.

Continuity:

The path as shown in the video meanders slightly but is more or less straight. In reality, the path turns to the left across the bridge but this corner being used as a shooting point for the approach and retreat mean that the angle between them is entirely constructed during the shoot. This was a matter of practicality on the day, but also the plan was for a character that appears from and returns to some unknown distance.

Sound:

Sound is constructed from layers of recordings taken from the location in separate takes, and other environmental sounds that recreate this city park with careful focus on the performer.

Competencies:

This film was developed primarily in DaVinci Resolve, with some additional sound processing in Reaper. I chose to use these tools as they are the ones my personal practice will be based around after university. I have undertaken additional training to make good use of the additional colour controls available and find that the workflow suits me better than popular alternatives. I have also been building an extensive library of assets for sound, transitions and textures that improve my workflow further and enable me to be more creative.

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