(Film/musical composition)

Outermost (1998) (Film/musical composition)

Allan Schindler

Film/Video/Animation Deparment, School of Photographic Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology

Stephanie Maxwell

Eastman Computer Music Center, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, USA


This collaboratively conceived and realized work features a uniquely close integration of visual and musical imagery and gestures, not merely in terms of general esthetic qualities and synchronized "hits" but rather by means of continuously evolving and changing relationships and patterns between these two elements. We conceived and view Outermost as a film/musical composition, rather than a film with a musical soundtrack. Underlying formal concepts, abstract imagery, and qualities of movement are mirrored in both the visual animation and in musical motifs, but not always synchronously. Rather, the visual and music patterns "chase" each other, "dance" intertwine, pull apart and come back together in long swirling arcs and patterns. The music underlines or makes more explicit certain recurrences and arrival points in the animation, and vice versa. As a result, we believe that the aggregate shape, emphasis and impact of the work are quite different from what one would experience from either the animation or music alone.

The animated imagery was originally hand painted frame-by-frame on 35mm motion picture film stock using paints and markers. This method of inscribing designs directly on the film itself, called direct animation reproduces the individual physical impulses of the artist by bypassing the camera intermediary. Films produced by direct animation techniques visually and conceptually reflect the individual artist's personal relationship with his or her materials and tools, and unique methods of creating cinematic imagery. This art form is very physical, expressing bodily impulses, vibrations from fingertips, changes in applied pressure, externalized internal rhythms and aesthetic preference. The frame-by-frame direct animation processes used in Outermost involve air brushing, stencilling techniques, direct application on the film of marker and water color pigments, etching directly into the film's emulsion, and "negative painting" meaning that the colors painted originally on the film were selected for the alternate colors that would result from their eventual computer color shifting (i.e., colorizing). The original 35mm film imagery was then trans-formed by video and digital processing (Rank Telecine and Copernicus Interfacer color shifting, and orientation, direction and framing manipulations of the original moving designs) and transferred onto Beta SP videotape. This new imagery was then subjected to a rigorous editing. In the four minutes of imagery in this film there are 157 edits (or cuts). A deliberate part of the overall visual experiment in this film was to "activate" or intensify the original animation through creative editing strategies to produce unusual movement characteristics and a unique cinematic experience of colorful, painterly abstract moving forms.

The music was realized by means of software procedures on SGI 02 and Indy computer systems. Many of the sound sources were derived from computer analysis, resynthesis and transformations of Western, African and Asian acoustic sounds. Principal software employed included Csound (Vercoe), Score-11 (Brinkman), rt (Lansky), mix (Hammer), SMS (Serra), linear prediction software, simulated spatial movement and localization programs, and algorithmic compositional programs, written by the composer, that generate note or event streams based on probabilities, permutations or transformations.