Tasked with creating the support videos for “Behind the Curtain: How we Survive”, I knew that I wanted to do something with floating pictures of loved ones lost.
Shooting in natural light was important to me. Located downtown, in London, Ontario, there exists a community art space known as “The Arts Project”. The third floor studio is a decent sized room, with old exposed brick walls, three floor ceiling windows and a whole bunch of character.
Upon my visit to the Arts Project to book the studio, they informed me that we couldn’t suspend anything from the ceiling or attach anything to the walls.
This posed the problem, how do we suspend pictures above the subject and allow them to walk through them. As this was a project funded by donation, budget was very tight.
After thinking about it, I thought that constructing a “Cage” of sorts from PVC pipe may be an option. It would be me the opportunity to create ‘lanes’ of suspended pictures where I could have Carly walk behind a few rows of pictures, each moving at different time on the frame.
I had to figure out how this would look and if it was possible. First step was creating a blueprint to figure out the design. Creating a 1/10th mockup in Illustrator, I was able to figure out the measurements of each piece needed.
Since I was going to make this from PVC pipe, the challenge was finding connectors with the configurations that I needed. After a trip to three of the local Big Box hardware stores, I found out quickly that stock ABS connectors only come in a few options, not enough to cover the what I needed. Enter FormuFit, a company out of the US specializing in furniture grade PVC connectors. The added bonus, was that they provided the Sketchup models for all of their products. I chose PVC compared to making this from wood so I could easy dismantle this, if I needed to, and the entire cage also needed to fit in my car.
Turning to Google Sketchup, I was able to make a 3D model based on the actual measurements of the Arts Project, and shoot the set virtually to see if this was a viable option. After a few hours of designing… in the virtual set, the PVC cage actually became a totally viable option, allowing me to suspend pictures from 7 feet from the ground. I had my set.
nteractive 3D model of the arts project with PVC cage and photos
Pipe and fittings were ordered. With my dad’s help, we cut the pipe and assembled the cage in their backyard to see if this thing would stand by itself. A bit wobbly, but it worked perfectly.
Arriving on our first day at the arts project, and finally being able to assemble the cage in the actual space, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked out perfectly. My measurements were a bit off, possibly due to the fact that I had to use pictures I took on my tour with a piece of paper in the corner for scale, and didn’t actually measure the room.
Problems faced with the construction of the set were the pictures. The pictures would spin easily, or just fall down. Granted we only used gaffer tape and fishing line to hold them up, but they needed to be able to be moved quickly and repositioned if needed as I was filming the music video, plus a series of interviews in the space. Also, budget reared it’s ugly head as my original vision of filling the room with 300 pictures didn’t quite fit into our limited budget.
The music video for “I Remember You”.
In the end, being faced with the logistical challenges ended up being an lesson on overcoming physical restrictions and coming up with an alternate plan to complete my vision.