How do you create a soundtrack for a generative, non-linear film experience? This is the question sound designer David Kamp had to ask himself when he was set the task of creating the music for FIELD’s Energy Flow. Much like the film itself played with narrative conventions and expectations to explore contemporary society and the technology that surrounds us, the music had a similar experimental approach in its quest to create a sound environment to complement the visuals.
The film experience is generated through a roll of the dice and is different every time—interweaving the film’s 10 stories to construct a new composition each time it’s viewed. Through exploring different ideas and narratives, and the way they form new connotations and connections when strung together in different combinations, the film taps into the central theme of interconnected energy flowing through our natural and technological universe, as well as the central theme of a world in turmoil.
The film’s visuals and score are combined dynamically using custom-built software to generate new combinations with each viewing.
This expressionistic, abstract approach to the animations needed to be equally embodied through the music, and done so with enough agility to make a cohesive soundscape no matter what order the visuals presented themselves in. To achieve this, FIELD and Kamp took what they call a “modular” approach to the soundtrack, creating a pool for remixing the musical content, and a library from which they could augment the animations while defying audience expectations of merging sound and image.
Some of the objects used to create the soundtrack to Energy Flow.
Kamp built this custom microphone to record electronic currents.
The library featured sounds created using a variety of techniques, using everything from classical instruments to synths, electronic drones, choral music, a stethoscope and custom microphones. The latter were used to record sound effects in a realistic way—by recording human blood flow, for instance, or electrical currents—so that the animations have a deeper, more visceral impact on the viewer as they witness the events unfolding.
Screenshot of Kamp’s music composition software.
Once these sounds were created and stored, the custom music software Kamp created was able to generate a soundtrack from the library for the different episodes using certain sonic cues. This way the dynamic, freeflowing structure of the film was mirrored in the soundtrack using computer-based composition. Kamp explains the composition process and the sound samples in the video interview above.
Check out Field’s trailer for Energy Flow below
Meet FIELD in the video below…