26: "Half Asleep"

I was lying on my left side.  Someone was wheeling me on something like an oversized skateboard that had a rope tied to it.  I didn't know who the person was.  I'm assuming it was a person.  It was raining, but not on me.  Just in front of me.  We were on the highway.  A mundane weather report can be heard talking about a thunderstorm and wind.  I think the reporter may have said "Yeah and don't forget the wind."  Slushing of car tires against the wet pavement filled in the rest of the soundscape.

Then someone suddenly moved a chair that startled me awake.  Just like that it was over.

This is lucid dreaming.  Those incredibly clear pictures and sounds (especially voices) that appear before us as we melt into the first realm of sleep.  They're a hybrid between really real reality and an incredibly bizarre dream world.  Down is up in this world.  And of course it is. Bizarre or no, everything is very matter of fact.  These aren't those deep, wild, ridiculous R.E.M. dreams.  These are apparitions that are influenced by our real surroundings at the time.  If you're napping in a park or the beach, your lucid dream might include the sound of birds, or wind, or water.

My favorite is when I'm dozing off for a quick nap...and the nap never actually happens.  It's just a series of nod offs (cat nap?) that put me in that transition state between wakefulness and sleep.  People call my name.  Or I'll hear other people's names.  Or a random giggle.  Or a cough.  Usually this all sounds like it's in an echo chamber.  Or like we're underwater.

Then, just like that, you wake up and they're gone.  Research has shown that amnesia is common when waking from a state of lucid dreaming.  Hence, you don't really remember what the hell just happened.  But you were there.  Totally immersed.

Where are these worlds?  Do they only exist in our heads?  Are we peeking through the veil of another parallel world?  Or is it just our brains getting confused?  The switches of wakefulness are turning off and the switches of sleep are turning on.  So, at some moment, they are going to be half/half.  Much like a solar eclipse.  Momentary.  Fleeting.  Surreal.  

I've learned this is a good way to tap into your imagination.  You should try it.  Next time you're going to take a nap (no matter where you are and no matter how long the nap), remember to write down what you experience between the walls of sleep.  Pretty sure Leonard DaVinci did this. Thomas Edison did it too.  Edison held metal ball bearings in his hand while he napped.  And just when he fully fell asleep, his hand would slump and the bearings would fall to the ground, waking him up.  Then he'd write down anything he remembered.  I don't dispute it either.  If anyone would know how to dream with the lights on, it's Edison ;)

Lastly, this isn't something you can ever fully appreciate unless you experience it first hand.  Hearing it second hand never works as well.  Heed the advice from the woman in the film when she says "If you can't see it then you'll just never know it."

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It's looking more and more like I'll have to make films in a more conventional (faster) way until I get some reprieve from the work I do to pay the bills.  So, a more standard Photoshop/After Effects tandem or some other CGI creation.  I only really had a day to pull this off.  Not enough time to make mistakes and try new things :\

That said, I can easily just go through the motions this way.  I find myself realizing when this happens and I immediately stop and change course.  Or just remind myself that this isn't Clientville.  I can break rules here.  I can leave the fussing for other stuff.

That approach led me to something I'd never ever present to a client.  A glitchy, pixelated, cruddy silhouette.  I used stock footage for the floating body.  It's footage of a guy swimming underwater.  I did a small edit and then looped it so I could extend the 9 seconds of the guy right where I wanted him in the footage to 28 seconds.  Then I exported each frame as a separate still image, brought it into Photoshop and gave it a silhouette treatment.  Initially, there were lots of garbage pixels to clean up.

Here's a before:

And here's the same frame cleaned up:

I had to do this to 107 separate stills.  Later on in After Effects, I made a wrecking ball using rusty metal textures and masked the guy's head out to create a body that was seemingly floating in the air as if the wrecking ball was a balloon:

Then the whole thing was treated to a high contrast black & white with some tasty color gradients added:

I love editing surreal audio for these types of films.  The audio for this one was pretty straight forward and simple.  It's one of the few films I've made where the language and words in the film actually matter.  Or, I should say, I don't like to use any talking or use of words unless it's absolutely necessary.  This audio came from footage of an LSD Experiment in 1956.  They had an average housewife sit at a table with the doctor conducting the experiment.  She took some acid that was diluted in her water and she talked about her feelings and moods as she experienced her trip.  Here's the entire original piece:

Thanks for reading!