‘Love in the Age of the EU’ – process notes for a video remix

Continuing the emphasis on creating voice mosaics, a wonderful opportunity. The Zebra Poetry Film Festival has chosen this German poem as a feature in its contest this year, inviting entries of poetry films based on the German original, or on one of the various translations provided on the site. The challenge caught my attention after Marc Neys put together a wonderful video using the German reading by the poet from the Lyrikline website.

Right away, I knew I wanted to try and create a multi-lingual voice mosaic. Excited, I emailed a few contacts overseas, thinking that it would be great to create a soundtrack blending the voices of a Spanish-speaker, a French-speaker, and a German-speaker. Unfortunately, someone was on travel, someone had a cold, and someone else didn’t feel they could do the project justice, and I came up empty.

Disappointed but not disheartened, I decided to read the poem in French and Spanish myself. Certainly, I would be inflicting a patently foreign accent on those versions, but the foreigner/alien theme was inherent in the poem, and at least I would get an even technical quality of recording across all three versions, and could work with the material without worrying about how a contributor might feel about the final product.

So I recorded each of the three versions separately, as I normally make such recordings – making couple of versions of each and then editing down to a single version in Audacity.

Then came the fun part. I was clear about the format of the soundtrack from the beginning – the intro would be a Tower of Babel-ish sound mosaic, with all three soundtracks fading in simultaneously at equal volume levels. Then the simultaneous three-part rendering would start again, but this time with one language aurally highlighted for each of the poem’s three stanzas.

I was happy with the result, in large part from the joy of introducing variables and possibilities of combination and recombination into the voice element of the video, which usually gets fairly one-dimensional treatment and consideration.

The video element came together quickly once the voice element was complete, and the images were driven by what seemed to me the rather bleak and pessimistic feel of the poem itself. Again, no people, but images from my collection of random downloads from various video clip websites. I tend to revisit and re-purpose video clips that resonate with me and have used both the Pluto landscape and the angel statue in previous projects, although the marvelous clip of a spider packaging a fly for consumption is new.

Previous post on voice mosaics here.

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Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

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