• Matthew Walker

SHOPPING TRIP | behind the scenes.

It's lockdown, and times seem tougher right now than any recent memory - but with limitation, comes creation, and that was the case when working once again with Barry Wilkinson of BWFilm, to produce 'Shopping Trip' - a dark animation, encompassing all the thoughts and feelings as we perform that standard task each week. Buying food. Visiting a supermarket.

You can watch the film HERE, unless you've already clicked on 'Shopping Trip' above ;), or watch below...


It felt appropriate to blog about the audio production. The soundscape that we created is a claustrophobic one, uneasy, and dripping with dread.


Just in writing this, I'm aware of the OTT nature in which we portrayed that feeling, but certainly (at first), before some welcome rules were put in place, this is how it could have felt for many.




| THE INNER WORKINGS.


The soundscape. Where on earth do you begin. Well for me, it's whatever comes first - in this case, it was the walk. The heavily weighing walk of our character, venturing out to make that trip.



The heavily present bass that is felt throughout had to feel ominous, so pitching down a standard analogue sample, some -6db or so helped in finding the appropriate range. The bass too rarely moves away from the same singular note - always feeling dreadful, creating an air of incoming fear. Along a singular track.


The composition as a whole remained simple. This was a sound design project for the most part, and not just in the foley work for any of the onscreen actions, or characterisations. No, the soundscape itself became more and more production focused by way of managing EQ, panning, reverberation, delay, and stereo widening - with wooshes, drones, and foley itself becoming part of the composition. Moreso than anything I'd normally use in a musical sense.


The world-building was so important to this project. Mr Wilkinson exhaustively recreated parts of his local town to really give this film a tangible sense, allowing me to move in with a sonic-atmosphere to match.



I wanted to go into as much detail as I could within the timescales to bring about an atmosphere that felt emotional, but also created a bed of 'noise', an audible smog - as it's the perspective of what's going on in our heads that I targeted as the sonic-identity throughout.



By and large, this is a soundscape that exists in the mid-to-low end of the spectrum, and managing all of the varying elements, giving them a sense of space and placement was without doubt the larger challenge.


Mud. A common term in audio - it's not about adding, it's what you take away - this was a methodology that I constantly reminded myself of, as the project timeline was already overloaded with assets within the same frequency band, all fighting for the same space in the mix.


The mix did see some refinement though, as there is also a 90 second cut of the film as it looks to run the festival circuit a little. Already being selected for both the 'Berlin Flash Film' and 'Kiarostami' festivals. The early reaction to the film has been very positive, so hopefully the film touches the hearts of many audiences. With a chance to rework the assets into a 90 second cut gave me the opportunity to work a little more on the mix - it became more refined, and led to the idea of extending the soundscape outside of its singular cue, into a fleshed EP - now amassing 7 tracks that are free from any visual medium, and can express themselves in their own experimental direction.



This extended soundscape is scheduled (at time of writing) for a May 7th 2020 release across all streaming platforms. Tracks names are below...


1. Shopping Trip

2. Something in the Air

3. A Shepard Watches

4. Man from the Mesa

5. Shepard Resolution

6. Streets of Singapore

7. Day by Day


The two 'Shepard' tracks are interesting in that they accidentally began to suggest the idea of using the 'Shepard Tone', within the arrangement. As soon as I noticed this I leaned on it some more, and gave those tracks an illusive sense of ongoing tension. I've loved this idea ever since watching 'Dunkirk', or further still, 'Super Mario 64'.



'Shopping Trip' is a poignant short film. One that I'm sure will greatly touch many as it continues to be shared around online. It's experimental, and emotional - two opposing forces that I think have seen their brief met by the creators involved.



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