Thursday, May 3, 2012


If you've ridden the Toronto subway system in the last few years you have probably noticed the large monitors that hang from the ceiling on every platform. The screens display train info as well as news headlines etc. They also serve as the venue for the Toronto Urban Film Festival.

TUFF is an open call festival for videos. It has only two restrictions: A 60 second length limit and due to the venue (a subway platform) they have to be silent.

I enjoy the 60 second time frame; I tend to be more creative when I have restrictions. Sixty seconds is actually a long time, most TV commercials are 15 or 30 seconds and pay attention to the amount of information packed into one of those.

The silent thing intrigued me as well. I've never made a silent video. So much of my personal style is tied into using music as an important expressive element in my videos. I enjoyed the challenge and it also bypassed the issue I often have of needing to create music to which I have licensing rights.

Content wise the festival really didn't have any restrictions, the only guideline was to create a video that would "appeal to an urban audience" Um, right.

I quickly realized that I had a work in progress that may be suitable for this festival. I've been working on a video, ostensibly for an architectural film festival in Argentina with an emphasis on the city. That deadline is still a couple of months away so I've been taking my time with the video, basically creating a love song to Toronto. That seemed to work for the TUFF; the original video currently has a running time of just over five minutes but I thought I could probably use it as the basis for a one minute silent video.

So I cannibalized that longer video for this one. The original video has many layers of audio; voice overs, ambient sound, sound effects, music. It also has a lot of keys, that being titles superimposed over images. I knew I had to ditch the audio of course and I knew I had to be careful with titles as well. People standing on a platform waiting for a train aren't going to be inclined to do a lot of reading so I knew I had to keep any titles short and to the point.

A lot of my work is cut to a beat or more precisely, cut to a rhythm. You don't need music to appreciate a rhythm. Or at least that's my theory. This video has a rhythm or perhaps it creates a rhythm, without music, at leas that's the intent.

Now for the purpose of this viewing I have striped in some music, part of the soundtrack from the cannibalized video. There is a part of me that just needs to do that I guess. If so inclined it may be interesting to watch the video once with the audio then watch it again with the audio off, as it would be shown on the subway, if it gets that far

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