Fast Tube by Casper
Here is a short animation by Jason Bennett for which I have recently finished an alternative sound design for. ‘The Pier’ is a beautifully creative and dark animation that speaks further than it’s basic plot. The characters are outlandish and strange but also emit a certain familiarity. The setting evokes a sense of civilisation but also a sense of the power and domination of nature over this. Throughout these aspects, an attention to detail and aesthetic creates a backdrop of beauty which the message and the story, in all it’s discomfort, rests against.
From the film, you can see that desolation is common through-out: the overall setting is bleak; the grass is caught up in an uncomfortable breeze; and the pier itself is in a state of disrepair. I wanted to reflect this with background noise and sparse use of music; the main musical (Cello) theme, used at the beginning and end, being a reflection of this desolation.
The main character is humanoid, bird-like and exotic whilst the monster character is stealthy, exotic and (initially) seen as closer to nature due to its juxtaposition with the main character. This meant that the main character needed a bird-like voice and was to be represented by an exotic instrument (Esraj, an Indian string instrument) . For the monster I chose delicate sounds to represent it and therefore the delicate sound of the recorder-like Shakuhachi from Japan as it’s musical theme (also, the playing techniques used give an air of the sinister). However, it is fair to say that these instruments are only exotic to the non-Asian but due to the obvious parallels between our main character and Man I didn’t let this worry me. To be truly outlandish and exotic to all I could have warped the sounds and also maybe used some kind of micro-tonal scale.
Because I saw both characters as being a part of nature, caught up in it’s endless cycle, I decided to bring them both together at the end by bringing their musical themes together; and to show that they are both part of the desolation that nature has created, these themes are both used in conjunction with the Cello theme at the pinnacle of the film. You may think that my use of the word ‘desolate’ in relation to nature is not fitting but nature creates desolation as well as beauty and the former is prevalent through-out the film (anybody that thinks only Man creates desolation should consider if Man is a part of nature or if there is an opposite pole of which Man is created).
To make the atmosphere of the film as realistic as possible, I added audio detail to compliment the visual detail and used sounds that reflected what was going on rather than using them to bring attention to the narrative. The exception here is the noise coming form inside the main character’s belly: this had to be disturbing and ‘in your face’ to get the main point of the film across, not just to be gross! The main chracter’s voice also gave an opportunity to try to induce this realism. For this, I didn’t use a bird sound as I wanted to tie the creature in with human emotion. Instead, I recorded myself making straining noises (insert joke here) and manipulated them with filters to get the desired effect. This meant that the emotion behind the noises remained intact even though the character of the sound had changed.
Below, I have included a link to a scanned copy of my original (rather messy) notes that I made prior to starting the project, set out as the animation’s timeline. Have a look to get a more detailed idea of my thoughts regarding the interplay between the different aspects and themes within the film (any non-highlighted sections beyond the first two boxes are yellow – this doesn’t scan well!). Please do feel free to comment on this post to tell me what you think of my version and you can also click here to see/hear the original with wonderfully atmospheric music made by James Slater.