the future of video

I’ve just completed the mastering of two more videos from the very successful december 27th, 2011 kaossilator synthesizer live recording session, the next two tracks slated for release on the kaossilatorHD channel on youtube: “back to basics” and “coal train raga”.  these will be uploaded at some point next weekend. this particular session has produced a very high yield of successful pieces, a good, diverse variety of songs and improvs that really show off what the kaossilator is capable of.

“coal train raga” is the shortest kaoss pad video so far, a mere two minutes in length, but a lot happens in that short space of time. starting with a lovely sitar capture, the piece evolves very quickly indeed into a quirky mixture of extreme synthesizer sounds balanced again the delicate sitar sound – a nice combination albeit an unusual one. because it’s so short, I decided that no extra footage was needed, so this is just a straightforward performance video.

“back to basics” is another piece that occupies a “niche”, this time, the “bass section” – just as in “southeast by southeast” the written instruction or rule for the piece was “use only the sound effects bank”; similarly, the instructions for “back to basics” were “use only the bass bank”, and by using mostly bass sounds within the piece, that set it up to have a particular dynamic – and in many ways, this is one of my favourite pieces from the session because it’s so specifically about those bass-oriented sounds, but as always, the element of surprise is present – you never know what will happen when you turn that dial and put your fingers back onto that kaoss pad…

I’ve really begun to enjoy the process of creating videos and in particular, the possibilities that sony vegas pro 11 (the program I use to create all my videos) offers in terms of creative music video processing. being aware that many novice video creators tend to go overboard and use a “kitchen sink” approach with too many effects and so on, I decided that for my first few months’ worth of video, for the first 20 or 30 videos, that they should pretty much be just performances, with little or no effects – so I could learn the tool, learn the process, understand transitions and effects and how to – hopefully tastefully – apply them.

 

so it’s only been lately, on videos made during the last few months, where I have tentatively begun to explore some of the possibilities that video offers in terms of treating footage using various effects, and I’ve made quite a few videos now that include additional footage beyond the performance, and in some cases, I’ve used effects to alter and enhance that footage, and to provide some additional visual stimuli and excitement to the videos. just as the modern recording studio offers an almost unbelievable array of musical possibilities – a multiplicity of synthesizers with literally thousands upon thousands of voices – all of which can of course be modified further when you take the time to learn the tools of the modern synthesist – as well as processing and effects to enhance and improve audio in thousands of different ways, now, video also has available a parallel / similar toolkit of effects and possibilities, many of which are fascinating, fun and can be very effective as a means to create a visual experience as (hopefully) tantalising and interesting as the audio track that the video supports.

initially, the video was just a clip of a performance – what happened, what notes were played, what actions were taken by the musician, to create a particular song or improv. and for me, actually, that is probably “enough”.  I’d be quite happy to film and produce videos of performances only, and that would be OK – in fact, that is exactly what I did for those first several months of making videos.  at the same time, I do enjoy learning audio and video technologies, so having a truly quality video rendering program such as vegas pro 11 available, really gives me an amazing toolkit of video effects and transitions to apply to the music videos I am creating – so why not use the video tools that are provided?

it’s really like getting a second chance to learn how to play and process audio, except this time, with video – how to stretch, alter, distort, blend and mix video as if it were audio. in a lot of ways, the processes are quite similar, so luckily for me, pretty easy to learn – I think it’s an advantage, if you can already mix and process music, that gives one a distinct advantage over someone who has never worked with either audio and video – and because of that, I am learning pretty quickly how to use the effects and how to make creative alterations to video footage that are hopefully pleasing to the eye.

I am also thinking about doing more “ambient music videos”, taking, for example, a long-form piece of ambient music, perhaps something like “into violet” by bindlestiff, a piece that runs about 30 minutes in length, and then using a long piece of video, of an equal length – but treating the entire video to give it a single, ambient character – lately, I’ve been treating some of the small “extra footage” clips in my music videos with a video effect known as “threshold” which creates a truly beautiful variation of what is occuring in the footage – a pitch black background, and the subjects of the video rendered in thick, bright, flourescent colour – a truly beautiful effect.

so I was envisioning a long clip, if the audio is 30 minutes long, then a clip of equal length, treated with “threshold” – so that the video becomes as ambient as the audio track already is – and the two together, ambient audio plus ambient video, create a truly effective means of sharing the ambient atmosphere of the piece – but with both an audio and a visual component… for me, this really opens up the possibilities of representing an audio performance. a piece such as “into violet”, until now, was only ever available on a CD produced back in 1996, or latterly, as a download in the pureambient store, and, it’s audio only, there is no visual component. so you would have to download it, and then listen to it, to experience it’s ambient nature – which is fine in itself, but I could envision a video version, with some appropriate footage attached to that audio, probably treated footage – and once created and uploaded, suddenly we have a visual reference, a visual way to experience and remember this audio track. so I do plan to make “long form” ambient videos in the future, hopefully, videos that compliment and enhances the attached audio, so that when combined, it creates an experience even more enjoyable than “just listening” to the original audio track might.

of course, it’s still the music that is most important (well, to me, anyway), but there is no harm in having a “video version” for those who wish to have a visual/auditory experience of the song rather than just the auditory one. that’s for the future then, in cases where no performance footage is available, I will hope to provide alternative footage for those pieces, video that tells a story about the song, that enhances and merges with the audio to create a complete audio/visual experience – and hopefully, in the process, I will slowly mutate from musician, to musician/filmmaker. it’s early days yet, I am still learning, but in less than a year, we’ve produced something like 50 or more music videos, and more recently those videos have slowly begun to transform – from straightforward performance video, to short films with treated footage mixed with performance, that is hopefully giving the listener an improved, enhanced experience of the song in question.

the only down side that I can see, is that time spent working on video, is time away from the performance and mixing of audio. but since audio is such a big part of video, I figure it’s all worth it, so, sometimes I may have to spend long hours working on video…but, when it comes out well and people respond positively, it is well worth the invested time – and in the end, it’s really just a slightly different way of sharing a piece of music with others.

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