23.6.12

Concealed Identity



I'm pleased to reveal another project i've just finished! This one is totally self-inititated, I've been wanting to do some creative work with footage from old movies for some time now, I thought it'd be  fun to experiment with, where I can use my editing and graphics skills and basically be really creative. Whilst wandering round my local library I stumbled upon a series of DVD's and I instantly knew I'd found the source of my video content...


'Lone Wolf and Cub' is a long-running series set in Japans' Edo period, depicting a lone warrior and his infant son travelling through the country getting into scrapes with numerous bandits, nutcase warlords and crazed shoguns. Having had a long-time interest in ancient Japanese and Samurai culture (see my 'Manyoshu' ode to Japanese poetry), I was well up for using some footage from these films in a project. I've always found with Asian cinema that you get these beautiful, lush landscapes that show huge valleys and plains with serene villages peppered throughout. The movies of Kurosawa and Ang Lee are perfect examples, even old paintings and woodcuts such as the work of Ando Hiroshige showcase this shared visual aestethic. Whilst visually they're nicely shot, there's a definite comedic value attached to these films; everyone loves a kung-fu film with hilarious dubbing, and even though I've not used any audio from the movies, the violence is properly OTT, I've even added to the gore with some CGI blood splattage! And yes I do know that Ogami Itto is technically a ronin, (not a ninja as said in the sample), and he does very little to conceal his identity, but thematically it fits right in!

I also instantly knew my soundtrack too - Source Direct's 1998 'Concealed Identity' was released on the excellent Science offshoot of Virgin records, around the same time classic drum'n'bass/jungle from the likes of Photek and Metalheadz was coming out. Source Direct were known for their vicious, darkcore d'n'b with intricate drum programming. The LP which this tune is lifted from, 'Exorcise The Demons' is a brutal record full of sinister mood and tearout breakbeats - check 'Call and Response' for an example. Being a longtime fan of Source Direct, I was aware of 'Concealed Identity' and thought it would be the perfect soundtrack on which to base my samurai video project on; hugely atmospheric and filled with sword sounds and dialog, the fast tempo and crazy beat structure would enable me to edit quickly, chopping up footage to create a huge montage that would compliment the track perfectly.

This was a totally self-indulgent project, after doing a lot of commissioned bits and pieces alongside Comedy Central during the day I just wanted to do something silly and fun. Actually, having mentioned Photek already, the video and track for his still-sounding unique 'Ni Ten Ichi Ryu' was a huge inspiration. Chopping up 6 hours of film into a 10-minute sequence was a bit of an ordeal at times, and I had a lot of technical hurdles with file formats etc. It's turned out really well though I think, it's the first project i've done in a widescreen film aspect ratio, and I put a lot of effort into the grade to make it look as 'filmy' as possible. Unfortunately due to it's length i've had to compress it much more than usual in order to get the file size down enough for Vimeo, but while it's a little pixelated at times and there's some quite apparent vignette banding considering i've blown it up from a ripped DVD to full HD it's doesn't look too shabby. The Japanese subtitles I've incorporated may be a little iffy though, it was a straight Google Translate jobbie so forgive any grammatical inaccuracies!



Anyway check it out - would love to hear some feedback and comments!