Honoring the Inner Motif
The first creative idea I had for this project came from this image of black pushing through a field of red. It was a very physical image and so basic that I had to honor that image in whatever way I could. So far it has informed several images in the video. The dark eggs coming out of the red body of a dragon, the red circle of the red elf light effect in the night sky, and when the computer of the main character turns off, the screen that is red is overcome by a circle of black that emerges from the middle of the screen. Beyond these, the images are more about red emerging from black. What I mean by "honoring" has something to do with nurturing that place where creative ideas flow from. Do they come from within or from outside of us, and if they do, where is that? It's a creative well that I want to listen to and honor by doing my best to connect with.
In one scene there is an animated cartoon advertisement of a little red elf and a red halo that flies around. I decided to do the animation, old style, drawing a series of frames on paper, tracing the last frame and drawing the new - a little different than the last. Animation has always been very relaxing for me. It's a type of meditation that has me focusing on the moment, that single frame. Animation is the most basic of story - something happened in the previous frame and in the current frame things are frozen in a certain place while on their way to the next frame. Movement is a flow and very clear in afterthought but the moment, in animation is the still frame. I photographed the paper frames of animation and put them into the editing timeline and then matted them so that the little halo flies over a moving background. The look, I decided would be like some old Hanna-Barbera cartoon from the 1960s with a color scheme of pinks, baby blues, lavenders and yellows.
I also used animation for the world that takes place within the computer. It's an interesting to design your own computer world. That world you see as you turn on your computer and watch the images flash on the screen and that we click on. These programs and pages and sites all, in the end, use animation. They are all designed and programed to shift to different images and movements as we click on them. Even this typing in this writing program is, in the end a type of animation. Each new character, "letter" appears on the screen as I type and the letters move from left to right and fill the screen with gray lines that go across the screen of white.
What was fun was to create this computer world and to realize how human the whole thing is. As words roll out and images enlarge and pop on or off, I can really see the thinking of a human behind it all. The computer world is an aspect of our own thinking, well, somebody's thinking - Microsoft or Mac or any of the various program and software teams. What I found was that I had to animate while reading the script and I had to think about the pace of the acting. In a way, the computer becomes an extension of the actor. The timing of the typed words and shifts in the screens and all the buttons clicked on have to be anticipated by the animator. I had designed the computer screen as a circle that is projected on the wall. This became a challenge of cropping images to circles (rather than the usual horizontal or vertical rectangle). Graphically, it became a puzzle of when to place the circle within the rectangle or the rectangle within the circle. The horizontal rectangle, of course, being the usual cinematic screen that we watch films in.
ICONS and Icons
For a video project several years ago I had the idea of an icon hand that reflects the decisions of the computer user. So if the user decides to click on a red button, the icon hand also moves to press onto this red button. The word "icon" has become very familiar because of its use in the computer language. I will always connect the word with the religious icon because I grew up with religious icons and my brother Richard is a priest in a Byzantine tradition and rather than religious statues, icons are what fill the church and they have a very sacred and integral function. I'm not sure what this implies for my computer world that has this disembodied icon hand floating around and doing the bidding of our intentions but there is an interesting thing that happens when I see it moving around. The hand seems to be making the decisions on its own just merely because it is there. I created the hand through photographing my own hand dressed up with a painted paper cuff and I used face paint to draw blue, white and yellow lines to accentuate the creases in my hand. I then posed my hand in various positions, including "pointing," "presenting," "pushing aside," "pulling down," "pressing," etc. This was photographed against a blue screen and then matted into the computer over the other graphics and keyed (programed movements) to move here or there. The hand in a shot is one of my personal motifs that have appeared in most of my films at some point. To me the hand is comes second to the face. When you think about it, we rarely see our own face while we are always seeing our hands and hands are second to our faces in conveying emotion as well. In the Bible God appears as a disembodied hand and when you look at Western art of old you will often see the disembodied hand. In Eastern spiritual art there are the many hands of deities, as in a statue I've seen of a deity with over a hundred hands that happened to look as if representing animation.