A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

The Barn

Posted: March 25th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: music, video/motion

We all get caught between having creative ideas, yet having extremely limited available time to explore them. To explore some personal creative ideas during an extremely busy time, I decided to give myself a challenge: Create a shortform video in 36 hours, inclusive of shooting, post, and sound.

It wouldn’t be the best thing ever, but it’d be a Thing. A Thing would be done…or as done as I could make it. The goal wasn’t to create the best thing ever…it was to make something. Period. And the time constraint would force concision, hard choices, and provide the constraints needed to be creative.

This resulted in The Barn. If you’d like to watch this short video, I’d prefer you watch this full screen. I’ll wait right here.

Given the focus of this blog, I suppose that I should speak to the music in a little more detail. I conceived, shot, and did a rough edit of the video in about a day. I slept on it, and composed the music the following morning in one session. The soundtrack is influenced by what I’ve been listening to recently: Ben Frost, Kammarheit, Erik Skodvin, Elegi, Stefan Németh, Paul Corley, and others. The music started with a sampler patch I created based on me playing my guitar with a cello bow, and some guitar plucks prepared with small magnets. Samples included wood floor creaks and static bursts that I had recorded or generated over the past year. It was created in Logic Pro 9. (The description on Vimeo addresses more about visuals for those that are interested.)

Could the music be better? More dynamic? More varied? Sure, yes, on all fronts, with no doubt. But this was an exercise in reaching done, a battle against hoping to maybe-sorta start something, and actually making something, warts and all. As they say, “Better can be the enemy of done.”

There are a bajillion things I’d like to change, improve, and alter. But in 36 hours – including decent sleep – that’s not important. The goal was to express an idea with time as the primary constraint. And the goal isn’t to continue to obsess and tweak this project: It’s done. Now it’s time for the next Thing.

I learned a lot from this small project, and will definitely do more 36-hour projects in the future. I relish constraints, even if they are arbitrary: They focus the mind like nothing else, and soothe the Blank Canvas Problem.

I welcome any thoughts, especially on the value of constraints, in the comments below. Thanks for watching and listening. I’ll return to more typical posts on field design and sound recording in the coming weeks.

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5 Comments on “The Barn”

  1. 1 rene coronado said at 8:01 am on March 25th, 2014:

    cool piece!

    I love the look of the smoke shadows, and I dig the restraint in not showing them until the back third of the film.

    I got the feel that “this is a horror piece” just from the black and white aesthetic and the score, but I wasn’t positive about that until I finally saw the smoke. Very well paced storytelling there.

    The main thing I would have changed in your shoes would have been to omit the closeup of the smoke orb near the end. IMO the resolution of the effect was far enough below the rest of the piece that it detracted. In the edit, I would have cut that shot and gone straight the the exterior wide so that I could hide it some.

    I have a short film in the works myself that will employ some double exposure fire stuff that needs tons of camera testing before I bring a crew on. Maybe I’ll do some of the tests in this time-restrained storytelling format. Dig it!


  2. 2 Nathan said at 1:26 pm on March 25th, 2014:

    Rene, thanks for the critique! So tempting to go back and revise it…but I’ll need to carry the feedback forward to the next piece. I do appreciate that the piece you felt was unneeded was a late addition, and the only effect that wasn’t a composite of real effects, but instead a CGI particle system. That’s telling feedback, and worth its weight in gold. Appreciate your attention and feedback, as always!

  3. 3 tim said at 1:53 pm on March 25th, 2014:

    very beautiful work Nathan!

    Love that Rhino rig – beautiful camera
    movement (& AE tracking!)

    & FWIW not sure I agree with Rene at all on that point – it felt like it was an important & satisfying conceptual moment & in fact I preferred it to the effected EXT wide shot… I would happily have had the orb as the last shot in the film, with no cut to EXT…

  4. 4 Nathan said at 3:32 pm on March 25th, 2014:

    Thanks for the opposing viewpoint, Tim. Sheesh, you and Tim are like my clients. Never agree on anything. :-p J/K…thanks so much for the input and viewing it. Cheers!

  5. 5 tim said at 3:53 pm on March 25th, 2014:

    take our comments with a grain of sand – its your film & your intent :) i just hope no one reads these comments before watching the film – maybe needs a spoiler alert? I started reading Renes before I watched it over on vimeo & his first sentence blew the reveal for me of that element

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