How did you manage to illuminate the bodies against the black background with such beautiful light?
I shot the performers on bluescreen, then used motion tracking and stabilization to animate and augment their natural movements. As a result of this process, the light that was previously static began to move around their bodies, enhancing their features and contributing to the dreamlike effect. From a color grading point of view I was after a look for which the bodies would generate from the void, interact and finally return to it in a circular structure, like a moving sculpture
moulded out of shadows. Colorist Tim Waller helped me achieve this particular look.
You directed, edited and animated the film yourself – what were the main challenges of the production and how did you overcome them?
The animation as well as the editing process have been very time consuming, and it took me over two years to complete the project. Since the beginning I was planning to output to 35mm film and DCP for theatrical projection, and I took the decision to work on 4k scanned footage, which makes for quite long render times. I used a combinationof various softwares, mainly Shake, After Effects and Nuke. The editing was so integrated in the compositing process that I didn’t feel the need to use a non-linear editing application.
Your film is “a study of human interaction expressed through movement and sound”. Did you write a narration or did you spontaneously film the dancers performing a set routine?
Before the shoot I was finding it very difficult to give people an idea of what the finished film would look like, so I gave the choreographers broad guidelines as to what type of emotions I was after. I knew that if I had enough range in the performers’ movements on set I would find a way of making the film work in post-production.
With non-narrative material I think it’s essential to stick to a tight and precise structure in order to give the audience a sense of direction, take them on a journey, as you would in a narrative film. Otherwise it just becomes random imagery, however beautiful it may be.
And the music?
The music plays a very important role in the film. Over the course of several months I worked closely with composer Antonino Chiaramonte to create a soundtrack that complements the images. We shared a similar approach in that we would not generate anything in the computer, but instead take something fundamentally human and organic and recursively transform it. He started off with some audio samples of a flute and a trumpet and arranged them into a music that seems to originate from the motions of the bodies.
Where are you based and what are you up to now?
I’m based in London, where I work as a senior compositor and filmmaker. I have recently finished writing and researching my next shortfilm project which I hope I’ll be able to shoot very soon.