39: "Microcosmic"

In it's original form, Area 52 was just supposed to be random animation experiments that hopefully led to the uncovering of new techniques.  The idea was to test and explore a wide array of "what ifs" within a set of technical boundaries.  

One of the original experiments on the list was: Make a film using a CRT television or computer monitor.  That meant that I'd make an animation, then play it on a TV/VCR combo and shoot the animation while it played on the TV.

I hadn't realized that shooting the animation at full size wouldn't really make all that much of a difference unless I was shaking the camera around or playing with the video connection.  Those two actions only make the image glitch.  I had just made a film right before this one that was created entirely with glitches and I didn't want to repeat myself.  So back to the drawing board.

After a bit of futzing with the camera, I realized that I could get a close up of the TV glass much sharper if I shot it with my iPhone instead.

The texture created by the glass of a CRT television is one of a kind.  It's something that's been completely lost, for better or for worse, with flat panel HDTVs of today.  Here are some close up stills from one of the test shoots:

Having the camera zoomed in all the way meant I had to shrink the animation quite a bit so I could capture as much movement as possible.  I ended up shrinking my canvas all the way down to 250 x 170.  That's about 40% of the size of a CRT TV screen and roughly 10% of the size of an HDTV screen.  Here's a quick diagram so you can see the size difference.  The red box is the size I was working at:

It was almost literally like working on a postage stamp.  Here's the canvas at full size:

I spent about 6 hours making all of the the fly-through animations, edited them all together and placed the small 250 x 170 composition into a 720 x480 composition.  Like so:

Then I exported it and burned onto one of these ancient items:


I set the DVD to loop so could just roll camera and shoot it a bunch of different ways:

I'm really happy with the way some of these textures registered in the end.  I'm equally as happy with the film as a whole.  Eliminating the layer of commentary or story gave way to a more playful and truly experimental approach:

Gonna use air quotes when I say I "made the music myself".  There are some great auto instruments in Garage Band under Alchemy Synth / Sound Effects that can go on for days when the Sustain switch is turned on.  I used this one called "Stargate Opening".  I recorded a bunch of long sound effects and drones and did a sound mix to make it feel like we were flying through this tiny universe:

Thanks for reading!