Thursday, 10 March 2011

Solid State II (Beta)

A while back I had a go with Ableton Live, and the results were mighty fine. Now I have had a second go, and the results are even better, because they're (a) louder and (b) faster, 160bpm instead of 140bpm, viz:

After having mastered both photography and music, you might wonder if there are some things I cannot do. The answer is that I cannot love, and I cannot pull myself along monkey bars. Everything else is within my grasp.

On a more serious level the footage was shot with a Canon 5D MkII at the Heygate Estate, which is familiar to you from previous posts. I used an old Olympus 21mm f/3.5 manual focus lens, set to f/8 and near-infinity, which focuses on everything beyond arm's reach. For stills photography it's a slow lens, but this isn't a huge issue when filming motion, because you can get away with much lower shutter speeds (in fact you generally want to use low shutter speeds, otherwise the video looks choppy). The 21mm f/3.5 is almost distortion-free, which is very useful for video because it is hard to correct for subtle distortion with most video editing software. Furthermore it's tiny and robust, so there's very little chance of banging it against something. And it's a prime lens, so no zoom creep. And it has lovely smooth bottom and a fount of interesting anecdotes and it always pays the bills in restaurants and gives you a lift home and doesn't laugh too loudly.

The brief burst of nature footage was shot a while back; I had it lying around, I thought I'd put it in. You can't really see it at this resolution but the moon has jet planes flying beneath it. The music itself (or at least the structure of the music) is very loosely based on part of David Whittaker's soundtrack for the 1988 computer game version of Oliver Stone's Platoon. Breathe in. Just like the real-life Vietnam War the computer game was no fun at all, but had a great soundtrack.

David Whittaker tends to be overshadowed nowadays by fellow composers Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway. He split his time between the C64 and the ZX Spectrum, and seemed to work mostly for Codemasters on their endless Professional X Simulator titles, back when Codemasters only released naff budget games.

Nonetheless one of his tunes for the obscure 1984 game Lazy Jones was swiped by Zombie Nation for their song Kernkraft 400, which got to number two in the UK pop charts in 2000. On the one hand this seemed a naff thing to do; on the other hand Whittaker had, in turn, swiped parts of Fade to Grey and 99 Red Balloons (and others) for the rest of the Lazy Jones soundtrack, so I suppose karma was working in the background. I really must settle on a standard format for song titles and computer game titles. Bold, or italics, or quotes, or just capitalise them?