making BLUE MOON

My video poem BLUE MOON, has generated quite some interest in how it was made.

The underlying sequence of buildings panning along to a beachscape is actually a single still image that I built in Photoshop. It is constructed from about 100 images of buildings around the Adelaide CBD, North Haven, and Brighton. They were photographed on days with bright sunshine and clear blue skies so that the lighting was comparable across the shots. Even so, I needed to adjust colour, brightness, saturation, scale, perspective and so on to get the visual mix right. The blue skies also allowed for easier compositing later on. In the final mix, the background sky was processed to be the same in all assemblies and was derived from the average sky colour in the images. The final Photoshop file is huge: 62,000 x 1800 pixels and about 500 MB. It was assembled from 5 smaller montages, each of which was from a specific location, and each of which contained dozens of layers.

I then took the final composite image into Final Cut Pro X and animated the pan from one end to the other. To save memory, I rendered it, and used the resulting video clip in the final composite. The sky with moving clouds is composited from three sets of vids I took all on the same day, but in slightly different parts of the sky so that the cloud movements were not quite the same. They are sped up and looped to varying degrees. The various flying objects are from a commercial image library that I animated. The final moonrise sequence is taken from the recent lunar eclipse we had (click here to see that). It is composited via an animated mask and a couple of other image processing tweaks. The whole lot was composited using colour keys, background colour gradients, key framed text and opacity animations.

The soundtrack is tin can, a performance I did as part of a Paroxysm Press tribute to David Bowie. The text is inspired by Bowie’s Space Oddity, Arthur C Clarke & Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and NASA’s Pioneer 10 / 11 space probes to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, with all due reference to Homer’s Odyssey. The music is derived from the chord pattern of Space Oddity. You might find a few other references as well…