Showing posts with label college. Show all posts
Showing posts with label college. Show all posts

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Electric Youth

This morning's spring cleaning unearthed unexpected gems! I found an old Exeter College magazine, which I contributed articles to (these won't be republished here due to the naivety of prose). A review of, or more like rave about, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1988) and Gloria Estefan's Homecoming Concert video. This elicited a train of thought that arrived at Debbie Gibson (there's a connection with Michael Jackson as you'll see)!

Please indulge my adoration of Americana and enjoy the following camp/nostalgic clips featuring singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson at her precocious best!

This first clip was taken from Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue" concert tour (1988). The concert was shown on Channel Four in the summer of 1989 prior to Bros' "Bros into Summer" concert at Wembley Stadium (first shown on Sky One and I still have a copy of the concert and documentary on VHS), where Debbie was a support act. The song, Foolish Beat, is a guilty pleasure and evokes cherished teenage memories.

Can't ignore Debbie's clarion call. Electric Youth '89...

How jazzed was I when she appeared in Michael Jackson's video for Liberian Girl and sang several notes?

Expect to see and read about more youthful crushes/aspirations in the coming weeks.

Message to Ben Amos, if you ever read this, Steps Posse Forever!?!

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part II

In this second part of my scoring pictures feature. I'm releasing the second soundtrack suite (MP3) (composed and performed by Barrie Cole & James Makin) from December Duet and address the use of non-diagetic sound.

For this production I had always desired and envisaged an emotive classical score. Rendered in the tradition of American film composers such as Eric Wolfgang Korngold who pioneered the swashbuckler scores for early Hollywood, up to present day practitioners such as Danny Elfman and Jerry Goldsmith. Who, themselves, had drawn inspiration from Tchaichovsky and other baroque composers of the 19th Century.

Although in the original story, there was to have been a song with which to resolve the drama. The composer decided to renege on his commitment, which, initially had an adverse affect. However, although disillusioned, I submitted, at the suggestion of my tutor (Mik Parsons), a script to a local art college for approval. It proved to be very productive. I auditioned two individuals who were very receptive to the story and its themes. Their enthusiasm was consolidated when I showed them the opening computer animation.

Whilst they worked, independently, on scenes. The end result was that both the characters of Lewis and Claire/Eleanor had, their own, individual and highly stylised scores. This further delineated and embellished their respective identities. This musical form is refered to as Leitmotif. This briefest of signature tunes, which can be orchestrated any which way, was pioneered by the 19th Century virtuoso Richard Wagner. Wagner's most famous accomplishment was The Ring - four full-length operas that depicted dwarfs, wizards, dragons, teachers, philosophy and gold.

This approach to composition has been used, extensively, by cinematic composers to signify, a character, a prop or an emotion.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part I

"How much do we see when we hear? How much do we hear when we see?" - American film composer John Williams. From the liner notes of Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back album.

Transfering archive analogue recordings has afforded a rare luxury to revisit many of my audio recordings! And I’m delighted to finally present the evocative score composed for December Duet (1996).

This suite (MP3) was composed and performed by Barrie Cole and recorded at Knighton Heath Music Center, Bournemouth and Poole College.

What follows is taken from my production analysis.

Why use sound when, surely, pictures, alone, can tell the full story? Obviously television and cinema are, inherently, about visuals. But an important aspect of these mediums is also sound. Often implicitly ignored by audiences. It’s there, but on an almost subconscious level. Sound masks editing, jump cuts and the passing of time. Without sound, it would be, arguably, impossible for the director to suspend audience disbelief. That what they are watching just isn't real. And, as a result, the audience will have no means with which to relate and engage the characters and the story. In essence sound underscores the illusion of reality.

Whereas the means in which pictures are mediated to an audience hasn't technically progressed (apart from a few rare exemptions / attractions such as IMAX Cinemas and 'La Geode', in Paris), commercially, for some time, due to the inherently vast development costs. And the unwillingness of theatres to embrace such undertakings, until the costs come down. The way in which sound is exhibited has undergone constant evolution. The advent of Dolby Stereo, showcased to dramatic effect in Star Wars (1977), made such a cultural impact on movie making. And latterly domestically. It created an entire industry devoted to post production sound. This has filtered down to television, in recent years.

Who can forget what a dazzling contribution John William's epic compositions for The Star Wars Trilogy (1977 - 83) made to the onscreen F/X and action. Would the films have been so highly praised if it had been unaccompanied by music and ground breaking sound design engineered by Eric Tomlinson and Ben Burt?

I wanted to convey my affection for beautifully recorded soundtracks, both diagetic and none. Essentially create a stereo soundtrack to compliment the visuals. I wanted to apply the knowledge that I had learnt from the previous two years whilst doing audio and video. The culmination of which was last summer's (1995) integrated project.

Simon, who undertook the role of PPS, sympathised with me. He fastidiously sculpted a rich sound stage which depicted, clearly, the vocals, sound F/X and musical score. We were able to draw a very fine line between complimenting the visuals and sounds. The temptation to over do one element, at the expense of the other, was avoided. It never descended into OTT melodrama. It lent a 3-Dimensionality to the 2-D environment of the screen. And also it adds another important element, that of directing the audiences emotions. I personally believe that you cannot have good visuals without good sound. It seems such a loss of creative potential, and a human sense, to apply effort to the visuals (in video) and give little, or no, consideration to the sound design.

During post production sound, sounds can be repaired and smoothed. Voices, crowds and additional dialogue etc can be added via A.D.R (Automatic Dialogue Replacement). This technique is used extensively in film / television production. A recent example is the movie Speed (1994), in which sound design takes the action to a new level of experience and audience participation. Foley adds footsteps, additional sound needs (not normally accessible during location recording).

To be continued.

Monday, 3 April 2006

Teen Titans

Back when I started College (1988) I had aspirations of becoming a graphic designer, and a few friends made the grade! Life has taken many twists and turns, but that ambition has not soured.

Here's a magazine mock-up, featuring Charmed's Rose McGowan, that also appears on my portfolio site. Come on Titan Magazines! You know you want me!

Over on Cloister Bell you can read my Mego Micronauts post! The Micronauts were the highly imaginative forerunners of The Transformers. Ah, the adventures of Commander Rann, Acroyear and Bug!

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Captain N: The Game Master

The title of this post, and its intrinsic camp value, refers to the live action/animated series, which ran for three seasons and was broadcast on ITV between 1989 - 1992. If memory serves correctly the show was a vehicle to blatantly promote the latest Nintendo video game releases and included appearances from popular properties Link (Zelda) and Simon Belmont (Castlevania).

In the '80s you could start your day by waking up in your Nintendo-themed sheets, wash your hair with Super Mario shampoo, eat Mario & Zelda cereal, and go to school with your Nintendo backpack. How times have changed. Did someone say Harry Potter?

Last Thursday I unpacked a shiny new platinum and black limited edition Nintendo GameCube. You know, the livery emotes sophistication and it's fun to posit whether or not Big "N" should have adopted this color scheme at the console's launch in 2002?

Aside from the glaring omission of a 251 Slot Memory Card from the bundle. I'm delighted to be reunited with Mario, Pikmin and Zelda franchises once again. This time for keeps. Viva la Revolution!

Discovered Galaxy FM. Anyone with a passion for Dance/R&B should listen (digital receiver required). The first song played was Opposites Attract (Paula Abdul featuring MC Skat Cat). The College memories.

Sunday, 18 September 2005

Dress You Up

In the '90s Paula Abdul and Michael Jackson signed lucrative celebrity endorsements with LA Gear. At the time college friends encouraged me to produce bespoke graphics for t-shirts. Over a decade on, I'm proud to introduce my very own clothing line and accessories! Well, sort of.

Be sure to check back as I add more products for the holiday season.

Still mulling over whether or not you should put an Xbox 360 on Santa's list? Better be quick as Amazon UK's dispatch date continues to slip (and I pre-ordered mine a couple of weeks ago).

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

Another World

Beautifully cinematic, impressively coherent, challenging and elegant; Another World (known as Out of this World in the States) is a stellar example of nineties game design and was the brainchild of one Eric Chahi and his team at Delphine Software.

"You play Lester, the young physics professor, who suddenly finds himself in a strange alien world after lightning striked his particle experiment."

In 1991 Another World became the poster child of Gallic gaming and adoring magazine editorials in C&VG and the official Nintendo magazine elevated it to blockbuster status.

I first played this on the superlative Super Nintendo, which was, somewhat astonishingly, eclipsed by Sega's Mega Drive console port. Too late, I'd already sold the latter to a College friend who was trying to kick the console habit to no avail.

Its stylistic cousin, Flashback, arrived in 1992 but never distilled the mood of its predecessor nor its downbeat ending. The Macintosh version was ported by Mac Play and requires Classic to run or there's the Windows version that runs in DOSBox.

The look and feel of Another World is unique to this day. Oddworld's developers clearly derived inspiration from Delphine. The game's creator, Eric Chahi, has made the Game Boy Advance (GBA) ROM legally available here.

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Requiem for a Dream

Growing up my aspirations diverged from "learning the ways of the force" and time traveling to video game author and Grammy-winning performances. Yet the desire to act and perform overarched everything.

In 1983 I was selected to audition (along with other hopefuls from around the South West region) for a place at a prestigious acting school. Due to very poor planning, on the part of my school, the day turned into an unmitigated disaster and the schedule went askew. Our audition piece, performed at Exeter's Northcott Theatre, would have been savaged by Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul! I had prepared a solo set reciting HG Wells' The War of the Worlds and instead was instructed to mimic a tree. A conciliatory weekend placement was offered to selected students who showed promise - one of whom had the propensity to burst into tears when they'd forgotten their lines. I felt slighted, but nothing that a new Star Wars Return of the Jedi action figure couldn't fix! Biker Scout, I salute you.

During High School, under the aegis of Mr Burton (no relation of Richard or Tim), my passion for drama class flourished. Regrettably, he decided to change schools and his successor drove out any sense of enjoyment and I dropped out. A few years later my Dad would meet Mr Burton, in Torbay, who had assumed that I had continued with acting. And learnt that this was not the case.

In 1990 whilst at College I formed a Pop/R&B band - Def Track - as part of a Media Studies project concerning the music industry. During the coach ride to and from London's V&A (I was also studying A-Level Fine Art) I co-wrote "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover". We recorded the song, promo video and prepared marketing materials (using MacDraw) ourselves. At the suggestion of our Media Studies tutor I wrote further songs for a possible EP (for submission to local radio stations). However, during the summer my work was stolen or mislaid and there was no backup other than a skeletal arrangement stored on an Amiga A500.

I acted in a University studio project (1993) and was required to show a complete lack of interest in the main protagonist. This wasn't too difficult a leap as I found the person, in question, unpalateable at best. It was noted that my performance was very effective and made ingenious use of a newspaper (a metaphor for the barriers in our relationship)!

My claim to fame is as a background extra on BBC Radio Four's The Gemini Apes (1998). However, acting has not lost any of its allure and one day I'm hoping for a reprise.

Thursday, 9 December 2004

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

At this time of year consumers are besieged by an avalanche of advertisements. From print to television media. Here's an example of a press advertisement that I recently worked on.

Drawing on educational experience attained whilst studying Graphic Design at College, I was asked to soft proof and edit the art departments initial proposal. Making suggestions for layout changes and correcting typos (all done in Photoshop). The advertisement appeared in the Cornwall Guardian. Mis-en-scene is something I never tire of no matter the medium.

Saturday, 12 June 2004

The Lost Boys

This morning I met up with a friend at a local coffee house (Costa). We always relish reflection over cappuccino, and the matter of school memories arose (a subject usually off limits due to personal tragedy). However, it was interesting to compare and contrast our respective ‘labels’ during those halcyon (sarcasm) days of secondary socialisation! I was a veritable imp and, when not drawing or writing, conjurer of fiendish schemes! Everyday was Halloween in disguise! Personal ghouls n’ ghosts caught up with me at College (as did academic success), but that’s another story… Run Luke, run!

After the travesty that was Batman & Robin, it was easy to overlook Joel Schumacher's cinematic canon. However, I watched The Lost Boys on five and it still captivates (my obsession with pop culture vampire mythology endures to this day). As does Star (Jami Gertz)!

Tuesday, 18 May 2004

American Idol

The Sun keeps on shining in the South West of England!

Aspiring Mac-based musos using iLife '04 should update GarageBand! Version 1.1 “addresses isolated performance and stability issues, allows per-track Echo settings similar to other effects, supports loop libraries in other disk locations, supports importing unprotected AAC audio files in addition to AIF and MP3 files, and addresses issues with ReWire support, moving GarageBand songs between different computers, Help support, fixing the timing of individual notes (as well as entire regions), and dragging entire tracks in the timeline.”

So, grab a bite from SUBWAY®, launch GarageBand 1.1, record, mix and export (in AAC format) your opus and send to Simon Cowell and the AI team! If only Apple's audio application had been available when I formed Def Track at Exeter College! The "joy" of 8-track and an Amiga A500.

At Inside Mac Games we've extended our subscription service IMG Pro to include further "value-added" features. For more details on IMG Pro, please visit here. IMG Pro costs just $19.95 for one year. A two year subscription costs $39.90.