Performance to Camera...or Microphone

A good friend and sometime artistic collaborator has recently started working in "performance to camera" which is interestingly/ subtly not the same as acting or - well - performing. It is a way to share practice which is not simply a documentation, and engages the audience on an emotional level more than a documentary, perhaps because the artist has control of the process. Although maybe also a fruitful area for debate/ argument about auteurship and the locus of the "art" within the medium. I thought of this when I was doing the final sound mix for the soundtracks of the Shakespeares. I wrote the scripts, yes (based obviously on the ideas of Shakespeare, Hollinshed, and a number of scholars); but they were recorded as a kind of radio play, by members of "Out in the Garden" theatre group. It was live, and although the actors were not professionals they were very human and convincing . And it was apparent that there was a real interaction between the characters as well as the actors.
Mary Queen of Scots...it's an allegory
In very short animated shorts, the whole process tends to be a one-woman band. Ideas, Writing, Drawing, Animating... rather like the process of painting. This process did begin with a written story, but also with a strong sense of what the visuals would be and that the two would work together. Isn't that the only way? But working with a group of people in this way is refreshing. The group sessions had their own life, and that life came into the film, opened it out - letting mistakes or improvisations happen and then remodelling the film around the sound. Letting the particular way someone said a word, or phrased a thought feed back into the pace, and the detail of the images. Making sure that the things I had written actually made some kind of sense - or even some kind of poetry. So Im wondering about conceptualising this as a performance to microphone...which is then in conversation with the images, and they agree what they want to do and then get on with it.
The timings are different - the rhythms of natural speech are sometimes too fast/ sometimes too slow for the drawings...And the drawings have their own speed. Lumpier, more highly textured drawings wanting to move at a slower speed. Black and white drawings seemed to want a cleaner, crisper kind of sound - not technically crisp but stylistically. And then you have to try to match the kind of voice with not just the style of drawing but the shape of the character and how it moves. One of the voice cast asked me "How should a woodcut speak?"

Now that is a bloody good question all animators should be asking ourselves.

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