Mark R Binks

I have to admit I’ve taken the eye off the ball when it come to Painting the Town… which is stuck in hiatus at the moment whilst the animation is into full post-production. However I have found some work part of New Mills Festival  (2016), part of the Big Weekend Mark R. Binks has an inspirational piece in the Torr Mill which I had to check out to see how it was set-up, informing my work still very much in development.

Horizon is a light based piece that relies of the public to work, they are invited to make a paper pyramid, all from an A4 piece of paper that are held together by a single paperclip. The placed among a growing collection of pieces that are placed in-front of two projectors. So I have an idea of how the art engages with the public and the construction of the work. Binks is using two DLP projectors, whilst I have a single LED projector. Both are very different, whilst I am also considering projecting video and not just colour onto my models.

I got a chance to meet Mark, who told me what was next for this work, it was exciting to hear what he wants to take the work, elevating it to something really special. I came away from the work with an idea of how to set up the work, whilst I hadn’t considered the public element to his work which makes it unique wherever it’s shown, the public truly shape and define it. After hearing from Mark this piece has a lot more mileage to go further, I can’t wait to see where it leads him, more projectors, more input from the public, here more is better.

Making Revisions Update (18/09/16)

Last night I was thinking about the sequences of the animation and I came to a few conclusions which had to be addressed today in the studio.

  • There is some repetition of events that had to be removed to ensure I remain on point with the piece. I was concerned about the killing of Buffalo, I don’t to repeat that event over and over before the audience gets bored.
  • Some of the nations are over represented, the Cerul, Pithlo and Bismuth, leaving the Dantrene behind with one. The Bismuth have two sequences partly because there are more of the figures to work with. However the over use of Pithlo and driving home the diminishing Buffalo numbers was too much for the piece. I have for the moment left in a second piece with the Cerul. This may change as I move forward whilst still depicting enough events of the American Holocaust.

I have deleted two sequences, there maybe a third, reducing the piece considerably and causing a rejig of the piece. I have now 4 parts with sound effects (those below have none). The 4th part has lost a sequence and gained one, leaving part five as just the grand finale which feels more fitting when the piece is finally released the length alone of the finale will be worth it.

The end is now finally in sight, I can see that a soundtrack is needed in places, others not so much. Its all coming together and I can’t wait to see it.

Making Revisions Update (17/9/16)

Today I have juggled domestic chores with adding sound effects to Part 3 of the piece. I’ve only just finished in the last hour, its been one of those days where it’s taken longer than expected. This is partly because of all the chores, however working from home is never the best option with lots of distractions I’ve done my best, taking my time to get part 3 right.

I’ve used steam train audio which took longer than expected, having to edit what I had to make it suitable for the action. The train is moving far slower than what we usually don’t see, moving as the track is laid, adding a steam sound effect, which I hope works as I am not really looking forward to returning to this.

Moving onto the middle sequence which involved cows which proved a challenge at times, having to play around with the volume to suggest distance most of the time. Also the gun shots which I have found to be just as hard to work with today. I ended part 3 hoping to use some audio I had recorded a few weeks ago, a dragging sound of a buck-board which would work perfectly with the end scene. However there was too much disturbance going on, the sound wasn’t properly picked up so there was little I could do but reuse and slow down another just as suitable piece of audio.

Overall I’m glad this middle part is out of the way now, I can move onto hopefully less challenging sequences next time with part 4. I am still unsure about adding a soundtrack as I feel there might be enough going on. I have however during the process had to change sequences in response to the addition of the audio and reasons of flow, so I am constantly editing the work at every stage.

Scarlet Street (1945)

scarlet-street-1945Until recently I’ve not seen a film noir for a long time, even longer since an Edward G. Robinson film, which itself is real treat. Sadly not from the 1930’s, yet to see one of those gems. I’ve had to settle for a   Fritz Lang which really isn’t so bad after all. Scarlet Street (1945) a film I’ve been looking out for, along with Woman in the Window (1944), the later film a return of both director, actor and Joan Bennett another chance for her femme fatale to work her charms as she gets her claws into her unsuspecting victim. I can only respond to Scarlet Street which was a real slow burner, working it’s magic on me, drawing me into and under the spell of yet another unsuspecting victim as he goes on a downward spiral.

I can see how Robinson was drawn to this film, a lover and collector of art, this is an easy on-screen expression of that, the lengths that an aspiring artist would possibly go to for success. I’m not drawing comparisons between himself and I, but I can sympathise with him to a point. We see him being celebrated by his colleagues, a lifetime of loyal service as a cashier, a comfortable life however not completely happy however. Leaving him vulnerable to any woman who showed the slightest sign of affection or attention. A man who would naturally jump at that chance also a fallible human being. When Christopher Cross meets Katharine ‘Kitty’ March (Bennett) who is “saved” from a mugging’s encouraged to gain his confidence in order to get money out of him. Believing him to be a successful artist, of course these are boasts that are blown out of proportion, her own ignorance draws her into his own projection.

Both are projecting an image of themselves, one comes from the heart, another from a false place that has no emotional connection. Cold and calculating and manipulated by her boyfriend Johnny Prince (Dan Duryea) who is the real con man of the film. Pulling the strings through manipulation and abuse towards Kitty who may appear to take it without being affected by the control his has over her. The femme fatale is at the mercy of a male counterpart, a term that I can’t even coin for this review Princes role is very rare in the genre, seen more as an abusive lover.

Turning to Christopher again we have a character who is weak and soft, the very reverse of Robinson’s previous work. Maybe he too was tired of the hard roles like James Cagney wanting more emotional and vulnerable roles to get his acting chops around. I can’t help but think of his distinctive role in Double Indemnity (1944) Barton Keyes an insurance man who’s sure of his profession discovering he’s no longer at the top of his game when he works with the insecure and faltering partner Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) who tries to fraud the company he works for, all for what he believes is in the name of love. Keyes world of certainty has crumbled around him, he can’t trust his colleague who he has known for years. The modern world of WWII is a far darker place than of a decade earlier, the lengths that customers may go to make a claim see Keyes start to question the world around him.

Robinson’s character a year later in Cross holds a lesser role of responsibility a cashier, it’s still a position of trusts brought into a world that is far different from his regular life. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a woman who all but despises him. She sees him more as a lodger in the way, his painting a hobby that will get him nowhere. When his talents encouraged by his “lover” Kitty he comes alive, living a double life of husband and lover, he’s on fire in aspects of his life that he had long but given up on. Of course Johnny Prince is always lurking in the shadows, wanting to get as much money as he can out of Cross who reluctantly gives into this love-soaked demands for cash. Kitty an “actress” moves to a more expensive apartment, her lifestyle has to be supported if she is to maintain it. Of course it’s all a façade for what they both really want.

Of course this all sounds rather standard, even with a cowardly Robinson who even allows for his work to be accepted as the work of his lover. He can no longer look forward to fulfilling his dreams of being a successful artist in his own right. Giving up one dream for another to make another possible. Is he mad or just human as he sees his work being celebrated yet looking on from the sidelines, unwittingly creating his masterpiece her “self-portrait”. It’s hard to watch him loose grip of his dream, giving more than just his money, his creative control, his dignity, his job and ultimately his sanity. He loses more than what he hoped to gain.

It’s a depressing decline that we hope would never happen, how can our hero of countless films become just another human being before our eyes. The artist in me wanted to shout to him, to take back what is rightly his time, his fortune and glory, to be celebrated, not another overlooked talent taken advantage of. Lowering himself to commit worse crimes than both Kitty and Johnny who wanted on his money, he takes something far more valuable. It is however a work all of his own, committed in the moment that again only he knows who the true artist is which is even more torturous for him. Ultimately none of his work will ever be credited to him by others except all of us who can look passively on.

Making Revisions Update (11/9/16)

Another day in the studio and I’m too eager to tell you all what has been happening. Part 2 of the piece now has sound effects. This has taken less time than expected, thinking I would have to return to the piece next time I’m in the studio. However with all the perceive difficulties I have overcome them all in the space of a few focused hours in the edit suite.

Part two is a mix of one easy and two hard sequences, in terms of sound effects. The first was very straight forward, a continuation of part one really, which is picked up at the end of part two. Things got a lot heavier with the arrival of guns and animals, not just Horses but Buffalo too. Having to add the audio carefully for timing. I think for my first animation with synchronised sound I’m doing pretty well. When the Buffalo are shot I had to time the gunshot, the fall and the cry as they die, so 3 pieces of audio close after each other which do increase the drama of the piece. I also was able to make use of cattle walking audio which was sped up and repeated.

The last sequence was the snow massacre which proved to be where most of my time has been spent making sure that the whole atmosphere of the piece works. First I had to consider the background audio, what I had found myself was too much, turning to built in foley, which I found myself turning to for the first time today. I decided to use it sparingly in order to allow your ear to focus on the action. I want to rely on my own sourcing not stock material, instead building up my own library to return to again and again. Now with snow and horses I knew that would change the gallop, which took some time to work out. Even when I was unsure and moving the audio alongside the atmospheric track it just came together for me. Allowing to build up layers of horses before moving onto the other sounds such as gunfire (all real by the way) and swords.

So for two days work I have done all I have wanted to do. Allowing me to move onto the half way point. I am however reconsidering how each sequence is brought together, in terms of the parts (currently 5) this may increase so for duration reasons as part 2 runs just under 8 minutes. Once all the parts have sound effects in place I will look at fresh narration to test out how the literal colours sound, which I am still in two minds about. Its a really exciting process adding audio to once silent moving images, creating audio gestures here and there in each sequence. I can’t wait to share it all with you.

Making Revisions Update (10/9/16)

Its been a very good day today in the studio after a few days. I must first tell you that the last sequence has been edited together and has replaced the animatic meaning that I am now fully into post-production. Bringing me up to date, adding sound effects to the first three sequences that make up part one of the piece. It’s a long process, made easier having all the sound effects ready to go, pulling them in whenever I need them. First adding the atmospheric audio before the sound effects in places. It has taken time in some places to get the audio how I want it. I really want to share Part 1 but I know it’s still not ready.

I’ve been considering re-recording the narration removing the fictional nations and having them as just colours. Then I think about how they raise them to another level beyond colour. Yet the colour already defines them as nations already. It should only be a few pieces where the names are mentioned, not a complete overhaul. I’m really in two minds but need to see the alternative. I have also come to another conclusion, the animation has to be seen next to the model miniatures for them to really work, so they could be seen separately, giving me potentially 14-15 video pieces with accompanying models. I like it.

I’m hoping to take this stage slowly as to make sure I’m not rushing this process. Giving a day or even a weekend to each part. At this rate I should have the work completed and release at the end of October. Of course all of that could change as I move forward.

New Mills Fest Arts Trail (2016)

New Mills Arts Trail (2016)

Exhibiting Light Blue Tears (2016)

Making Revisions Update (6/9/15)

I returned earlier than expected from New Mills where I installed my work for this years Art Trail (post coming soon) I had some time to occupy. Deciding to make a start on the animation I captured at the weekend. So far I have processed 2 1/2 minutes of footage, this is going to be another long sequence. Which matches the likes of the reservation rescue, the grand finale and a few others, making this a balanced piece. The action does move quite fast, which is in tone with the rest of the work. I am having to be more considerate in places to block out the dust-sheet from view. It’s moving faster than I expected but all making sense so I am very happy. I’ll try and put in some time during the rest of the week before I bring it into Part 3 where it will replace the animatic. The action really does look like it’s taking place in the snow, its all paying off.

Making Revisions Update (5/9/16)

Today marks the end of the of the animation period of this work…for now, I don’t know if I’ll be returning to do any more now. I decided to get a few (4) more bags of flour, working out that I had bought 13 bags of 1.5kg, that’s 19.5kg’s of flour on the ground. Once in place I took the remaining shots which were over in less than an hour which left me with the task of clearing up all of the flour that was on the dust-sheets and that I had walked all over the gallery space. Not a fun task but necessary. Whilst also considering the models which all had to be dusted clean for future use or even exhibition.

From the stills captured I can make a start on animating the final sequence, I can tick it off the much rearranged production schedule. I’ll hopefully be starting the editing process at the end of the week now. With over 500 stills this sequence could run to around 2 minutes long, which comes close to the animatic I produced for reference. It really has been a learning curve animating so much content on such as vast scale. I think next time I’ll be working on table tops and not the floor, as much as I enjoy the playful side of the process, it is not comfortable. I can’t wait to see how the last sequence comes together and how it works alongside the others.

Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party (2016)Not the first film that I thought I would be reviewing, however my mind was still thinking even as my sides were awkwardly splitting last night. Sausage Party (2016). Admittedly this is not the best film I have seen in terms of substance, it’s an adult comedy animation that is throwing punches at everyone, I’ve not seen a film this offensive since Team America: World Police (2004) which again had me in stitches. However if you look beyond the surface, the profanity, the lewd content there is a loose message that you’d never think to find in a Seth Rogen film.

OK so what is it that made me sit up and think between the laughs, we have a faith-based film, well lack of really as we are spend the duration of the film in a supermarket from the foods perspective, think Toy Story (1995) but with less self-awareness of purpose. The food believe they are waiting to be chosen by the gods (us) to go home, not sure what else would happen when you get out, no one is until a jar of Honey Mustard’s (Danny McBride) returned to the supermarket, bring with him the horrors of the gods. Its like coming back from the dead and discovering there’s no heaven, only a hell, or even nothing. Your whole belief systems shattered and no-one around you believes you or wants to. Of course the audience knows exactly what is going on, but we can’t say a word, only having the prior knowledge as Gods as to what is going to happen. I’m reminded of an episode if Star Trek Voyager when one of the character’s Neelix is revived, coming back to understand that his belief system is baseless, finding no afterlife to look forward to. He struggles for the rest of the episode learning to deal with that fact.

That’s all before a pack of hot dogs and buns are bought to help celebrate Independence Day to be chosen on that day means a lot for one pack of each Frank a sausage (Seth Rogen) and his bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) who believe can’t wait to finally sleep together, which takes little imagination. They are both chosen but circumstances see them being left behind at the supermarket. Sounds a bit like the claw in Toy Story for the aliens in the Pizza Planet vending machine believing that the claw is a god to them, choosing one of them (if operated correctly) to be taken somewhere, again the belief systems flawed, being left open to interpretation.

I’m finding a few cultural references here, however I’ve never seen a film deal head-on with the issues of atheism, from a country based on religion and it’s freedoms. We get to see what happens to the (luckier) that’s brought home, where reality and ultimately death awaits them all. Visually its painfully hilarious as we see their reaction to what is ultimately there to serve us, well our appetite and sustenance. Out in the real world we are left with only an underdeveloped sausage Barry (Michael Cera), no guessing what that’s supposed to be to try and make his way back to the supermarket.

Most of the times spent in the supermarket where Frank and Brenda are joined by a Jewish donut Sammy (Edward Norton doing his best Woody Allen impression) and a lavash (David Krumholtz), mirroring the West Bank politics. Every nationality gets a ripped into, playing up stereotypes, making Family Guy look tame in comparison to this which really is saying If I make fun of them I have to make fun of you too, which is fair play. No real harm done as its equal, it’s an adult frat comedy so you get what you pay for, it’s not supposed to be politically correct or sensitive or we’d have a completely different film that doesn’t go to the extremes that we have here.

I’m reminded again of Toy Story when Barry finds himself in the home of a drug (James Franco) user of bath salts that temporarily changes his reality to be on the same of that as the food who we see in the home as either half eaten or ready to be. Taking me back to when Woody (Tom Hanks) confronted Sid bridging the gap between toy and human. Of course that was to scare the hell out him, the Toys are already self-aware and have to pay the role of the toy in the kids presence. There is no belief system (except for Buzz Lightyear  (Tim Allen) who believes he is what he’s been manufactured as) at play, they co-exist in their own secret world.

So there’s more to this adult film than meets the eye, of course one reading is revenge of the food, the realisation of their purpose. In the world of Toy Story they have already come to terms with that reality. The belief system we learn was put in place by the Non-perishable products, a method of pacifying the food, keeping them calm make the supermarket a nice place to be. As some atheists see religion as mass control, which is fair comment if you read into the hierarchy of organised religion. Ultimately that is a belief, we can choose to believe in a supreme being, or not, either way can make your life better. We just have to all learn to respect each others belief system.