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Published on Aug 3, 2010
Back in June 2006, I was invited to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival by Coastal Jazz's manager of artistic programming, the amazing Rainbow Robert. That's where I heard piano improvisor, Paul Plimley for the first time. As Paul played, I closed my eyes and had an intense synesthetic experience. When the show ended, I immediately started feeling a compulsion to express in animation what I had just experienced. I shared my thoughts with Rainbow and to my delight, she said to me, "That's why I brought you here, I was hoping you'd say that!"
I've wanted to do an abstract animated film ever since I discovered the work of Oscar Fischinger, Norman Mclaren, Kandinsky, Yves Tanguy and many others. I knew that Paul's music, was the perfect catalyst to get started on such a project.
Upon returning to my studio, I immediately got a hold of several musical pieces by Paul and started experimenting with animation. After a few weeks of trial and error, I started animating a musical triptych from the album, "Sensology": a brilliant duo with bassist Bary Guy, which was recorded on November 9th, 1995, at the Western Front in Vancouver, Canada
The creation of this film was a true spiritual and artistic journey. Sometimes, I felt like I was channeling the images. I did no storyboards and virtually no preliminary work. I animated in a stream of consciousness, one frame at a time at a rate of 30 frames per second. The shapes revealed themselves as I listened to the music over and over again. The process was intensely focused and required large amount of concentration. I was becoming part of the music and expressing my creativity at its rawest and most primal. Like Kandinski tought us, every shape and sound has a equal vibration in the soul. When Paul Plimley saw a portion of the film for the first time, he said to me with tears in his eyes, "It's like you read my soul."
Sensology was handdrawn (painted) with a Wacon tablet at first, and later, a Cintiq, using Adobe Photoshop. The drawings and frames were then composited and manipulated in a 2D software called Animo. There is no vector animation at any point in the film.
Because a film needs to be 24 FPS for theatrical projection, I had to create a new master which took quite a bit of creativity and effort in order to preserve as much of the animation as possible. Fortunately, the 24 FPS version looks good and nobody but me will ever see the difference. The version posted on YouTube is 30 FPS.
A 9-second teaser of Sensology was posted on line in the Fall of 2006 and resulted in Pixar contacting me to do the abstract taste visualization for the film Ratatouille.
Sensology was completed in July, 2010. It premiered in Los Angeles at the Laemmle's Fallbrook 7 in West Hills, CA on July 30th, 2010, where it was shown for three consecutive days.