It’s been a very busy few weeks since the last update. We were on schedule for a test screening at MIT next Tuesday in advance of the premiere on the 28th. Then, a setback. Temporary but nonetheless. One of the two souped-up computers we’re using to process and animate images suddenly and catastrophically crashed this morning. A fix, hopefully without data loss, is not expected until next Wednesday at the earliest. At this point we could have maybe absorbed a couple of lost days in the editing schedule, but not 6. We are coordinating with MIT on finding a new screening date in the second half of April. My contact at MIT and Kickstarter backer (!), Ellen, has been a peach. Please stay tuned.

Abbott Imaging created this lovely movie poster. Of course, I had to stamp ‘Postponed’ on the date, but when we have a new date, we’ll update the poster. 

 Meanwhile, we wrapped up all the sound and music recording.

In some places we had preliminarily edited the video to inspire the musical improvisation. But in the clearly rhythmic parts of the film, like the dance sequences and the time-lapsed pysanky-making sequence, we wanted to edit the video to the music.

Friends and family had been helping me make lists of music that could accompany the pysanky as they move and interact. And, but for the pesky matter of copyright and permissions, I might have found a perfect mix of tunes and performances to draw a soundtrack from. Personal use might then provide all the permission I need. But I don’t want to box this film in legally, so the permissions would have been important to me. Furthermore, how would I pick from the many types of music and recordings I can imagine in the film, and then assemble a soundtrack that hangs together and has a sufficiently original voice?

In the end, I’ve taken my cue from the silent film era, in which a theater organ, piano, or even orchestra performed the soundtrack live. What if I could get some musicians to play improvisations, completely original work just for this story, this film? A completely original soundtrack is just what the film needs. And lucky for me, two talented professional musicians have provided the project with a rich palette of musical improvisations to choose from. Keyboardist Christa Rakich sent 53 audio files with inventive and beautiful improvisations that she played on her clavichord and two harpsichords. Ari Rivas came to the studio for a couple of hours early in March and recorded a range of gripping improvisations on his cello.

We also recorded the few sounds generated by the process of making pysanky: the rasp of the kistka on the egg, the creak of the springs in the balanced-arm lamp I use, the spoons clinking against the dye jars. JoeK of Abbott Imaging will take these percussive sounds and compose a track to accompany some of the time-lapse scenes where I am making pysanky.

Putting a soundtrack together from all this musical treasure has been a big challenge. From the start, this is a visual project for me. First the eggs themselves are all about patterns and color. But a film, too, is obviously something you watch. And especially with this one, where no words are spoken, I am telling this story with movement, as in a ballet or pantomime. But music critically adds emotion. And that has meant a 3-week excursion into listening and snipping and juxtaposing sound and music to form a soundtrack. I love being so immersed in music, but it is also hard to leave out even one of Christa’s and Ari’s wonderful musical offerings. We can’t include them all, alas.

In the next few days we’ll continue working with the tools we have to push ahead and then get back to humming along to the finish.

JoeK at work
JoeK at work