Monday, 1 March 2010

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is a wonderful place. I don't care much for the exhibits, because I can imagine a planet somewhere in the universe where birds study the stuffed corpses of men and women, and that gives me the creeps. But the building itself is fantastic, the main hall in particular. It was built by a man called Alfred Waterhouse, who had a beard. You can wander around with a camera and no-one tries to put you in prison. I have written about it before, in London: Friend of Foe, a brief guide to the photographic policies of various London landmarks. My conclusion was that London can be a harsh mistress. You have to feed it cigarettes and gin.

The Natural History Museum is right next to the Science Museum, which resembles a shopping mall and has a lot of exhibits that have not been updated in years. To my eyes the Natural History Museum looks the more futuristic of the two, in a retro way. It always reminds me of the sequence in Disney's The Black Hole where the asteroids smash through the giant spacecraft and menace our heroes. Damn, Maximilian was a magnificent bastard. The Black Hole is one of those films that works as a sequence of still images rather than as a dramatic film, which is perhaps why it appeals to me. I suspect that if I was given twenty million pounds to make my own film, it would be a lovely sequence of still images that would not work as entertainment. And so I must resist; I shall insist upon shooting a small kitchen sink drama with a little processing as possible. Or a gangster film. Or a zombie horror film with naked women. Two genres ripe for exploitation.

As with the previous films, this was shot with a Canon 5D MkII. I used an Olympus 21mm f/3.5 and a Zenitar 16mm fisheye lens stopped down to f/5.6. Unfortunately I knocked the lens hood out of alignment, and so all of the fisheye images have black blobs in the top-right and bottom-left corners. Also, the very first shot is slightly skew-whiff. Good job I'm not a professional. I shot mostly at ISO 800 or ISO 400 depending on which lens I used at the time.

The clips were processed with VirtualDub, and then sequenced with Windows Movie Maker. The music is made with the Korg Polysix simulation in Korg's old Legacy Collection, plus M-Tron. There are two paradigms for timelapse movie music; Tangerine Dream or Philip Glass. I chose the former. I also shot a lot of footage of the London Eye and for that I will choose the latter. But that is for the future.