Space Oddity


When I found out that the theme for this project would be space, I immediately knew what music I wanted to use. The song Gold Pilot from the album coloUrs and mayhem: Universe A has always been strongly evocative of outer space and celestial bodies to me, and I was honestly thrilled to have a chance to work with it. The first thing I did in my ideation process was mark up the music, identifying the six primary musical components of the piece, which I referred to as pulse, chime, beat, strings, drop, and cascade. From there, I proceeded to identify which types of elements and motion I felt would fit best with each musical component. For instance, I knew that since that the piece opens with a slow fade-in to pulse, I wanted to use a zooming, circular fractal to reflect that musical composition in my visual composition.


I found the cascade element of the music particularly evocative, as it reminds me of watching meteor showers, so I decided I wanted to depict a stylized version of that using a loop of descending star shapes.


I also found the drop sections of the music, where it rapidly cuts to silence, and then to a brief section of rather unsettling music, very evocative of a specific image. My idea was that the frame would transition to black on an out-to-in wipe, simultaneously with the music cutting out the previous elements to silence, followed by the appearance of a green fractal in a shape reminiscent of an eye. This fractal was, after that, meant to be distorted in time with the beats of the music.


When I started working on my composition in after effects, I very quickly ran into a series of problems. As my background is more in computer science and video editing than visual art, I attempted to work primarily with expressions in my manipulation of the properties of my visual elements, since that is the method that made the most sense to me. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that After Effects does not seem to follow the same syntax conventions as normal Java code, much to my confusion. I found myself spending multiple days reading documentation on Adobe expressions, with little comprehension of why the things I was trying were causing errors. For example, in attempting to create timed distortions of the fractal pictured above, I attempted to use at least three different distortion effects, encountering errors with each of them that I could not solve on my own. I encountered similar, but more extensive issues with my attempts at creating a randomized pattern of small circles appearing then fading out as the circle expands for the chime sections.


Eventually, as the deadline approached and I ran out of time, I decided to temporarily stop working on the sections of music in order, skipping forward to add base images to most of the sections, and compose the kaleidoscope in the strings section of the music. While I am not satisfied with the result of this project, I hope to build on what I learned from the many difficulties I encountered in my work in After Effects in the future.