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Anatomy of a Song - editing again

The story of  ... the film of ... the song of ... the book ...by Philip Bridge
Anatomy of a Song is the story behind the song A Vulnerable Man based in part on the book Hostage in Iraq by Norman Kember.

Editing The Second Part

At some point I moved on to editing the "performance" of the song.

This was going to be easy wasn't it? Just set the studio-supplied soundtracks on the timeline and line up my shots so that the audio patterns matched. Then cut back and forth between whichever shots I chose.


Lining up the shots was a doddle but then I found the problems. In some places I had no shots and in others I had plenty.

The shot of Sue's singing face did run the whole length of the song but as I pointed out earlier, it contained a few mismatched lip syncs. During the instrumental section I must say Sue listened in perfect sync (!) and that was useful.

Close-up of a mixing-desk.

The other problem was that there were shots where the music continued but the instrument wasn't being played and some where there was no sound but the instrument was being played. There had been considerable improvisation that I was unaware of. When in the studio, I wasn't connected to the control desk and was unaware of the communication between Jamie and the musician. (Jamie Masters who runs Echo Studios in Buckingham). Although I could hear one end of a conversation it made no sense to me.

Scene from 'Anatomy of a Song'.I decided the only practical way of showing the variety of instruments being played for any length of time was to use "picture in picture". It was then a matter of carefully selecting shots of the instruments being played when there was sound on the timeline and judicially avoiding the non matches. I took as much care as possible when assembling the P-in-P section for example, when the flautist(Ruth) was playing (a toot on the flute from Ruth) there was a big gap, screen top left - just the place for a smaller picture but as she leans forward into the gap so the smaller picture fades out. There were one or two places like that where I had enough material to be selective but not much I can tell you.

Editing General Again

I had thought for some time that there needed to be some shots of Iraq and I had been assured they were available.

So I called on Tony Kempster who was chairman of MAW (Movement for the Abolition of War) at the time and the driving force behind the CD project. He downloaded some photos from a photo-library making sure only to choose those that were free for non-commercial use.

I also wanted one of Ghandi and we had to be very careful not to get some of Ben Kingsley playing the role!

For the one of Jesus I used a shot I had taken for Peter Gardner's funeral film of a stained-glass window in St. Laud's Church, Sherington. A personal note to remind me at what point in my film-making life this effort was assembled.

The discordant notes that Sue plays near the start weren't horrible enough. Now I recall from somewhere that humans like odd numbered harmonics but detest even numbered ones so I added a tampered harmonic to the original, probably using Adobe Audition again. They sounded quite horrible enough with that Audition addition.

Soldiers in Iraq.
When I thought the whole was presentable I tried it out on my preliminary panel. In this case it consisted of some of those who had been involved with the Call back the fire project.
The general comments were encouraging. One section was over-elaborate; in one shot the flute was playing while the flautist was clearly taking a breath; the shots of Norman Kember in his sunglasses just had to be replaced!!

I was embarrassed by the flautist lapse but it was easily remedied as was the over-elaborate description of the repeating bar. Re-filming Norman took a little more effort. I asked Tony Kempster to alert Norman and his wife, Pat, and shortly afterwards I arranged to visit them at their home in Pinner to redo the talking head bit.

Close-up of the flautist.

The Second Interview

Not so much an interview - more an earlier statement tarted up a bit!

By this time I had read Norman's book Hostage in Iraq and so was better informed. I recalled his mention of an idiot board and while a portable auto-cue was out of the question I thought I might improvise a combination of the two.

I got an A3 piece of corrugated cardboard and cut a hole for the lenshood. I transcribed Norman's words from the original recording that had been used on the CD and printed them on a sheet of A3 paper, allowing for the hole.

Then I recalled the reflection of white paper in his glasses at the Randolph so I converted the words to white on black and printed them again using an enormous amount of matte black ink. Once it had dried it just required some Sellotape (actually WH Smith's cheaper version) to complete the construction. I stuck a couple of felt pads on to the lenshood to help retain the cardboard. When I started shooting I noticed that Norman was no longer wearing glasses!

Picture of the home-made 'idiot board'.
I hadn't got the camera in exactly the position I wanted but his first take was so good I decided to go with it.

Afterwards we had a cup of tea and a chat and I was informed that a longer version of the kidnapping story, written by one of his Canadian fellow captives, is about to be published.

Just a reminder for those who don't get to read either book, there were four members of this "expedition", two Canadians, one American and Norman. The American, Tom Fox, was separated from the other three and executed quite soon after the kidnapping.

Picture of the home-made 'idiot board'.
Over the next few months I tried the film out on a few people to a generally good reception. Eventually I decided to leave it as it was, once I had added appropriate credits at the end.

I had considered shortening the performance but there's no obvious way of doing that. I also considered repeating some of the stills from the earlier description, at the start of each verse. The trouble is that while it might appeal to those who are drifting along, it comes through as rather patronising to those who are actually listening.

At least no-one has asked for a bouncing ball ... yet.

- Philip Bridge

The end credit card from 'Anatomy of a Song'.

Anatomy of a Song ... 1 - beginnings |  2 - making plans | 3 - diversions | 4 - more diversions | 5 - editing

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Page updated on 03 June 2011
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