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Making Multimedia Magic

Making Multimedia Magic

When working on her latest feature, Carolyn Colton 14 FAV came to understand that the art of filmmaking really does involve smoke and mirrors.

When working on her latest feature, Carolyn Colton 14 FAV came to understand that the art of filmmaking really does involve smoke and mirrors. The senior successfully simulated a raging house fire using little more than an industrial fog machine and a flicker box for her final film. Called Operation: Twirl, the 19-minute live action drama tells the story of a first-generation Japanese-American father struggling to come to terms with the loss of his mother and be more present for his own daughter.

“Between the lighting and very specific camera movements, my cinematographer and I were able to create a realistic blaze – without having to hire pyrotechnics crews,” Colton explains. “We were quite proud of this accomplishment. And the people who allowed us to film in their home were happy we didn’t burn the place down.”

The native of Washington, DC is one of 46 seniors who are screening their final degree projects – a wide range of live action films, animated work and videos – at this week’sFilm/Animation/Video (FAV) Senior Show. The popular film festival runs from Tuesday, May 13 through Sunday, May 18 at the RISD Auditorium. “I can hardly wait for the show,” quips Colton. “Being able to see a live audience’s reaction to your film is critical to knowing whether or not it functions in the real world.”

Last Friday students in the department launched theFAV Open Media Exhibition, a zany gallery show that continues through Saturday, May 17 and features time-art based installations, interactive works and live performances. For instance, Paul Gondry 15 FAV – the son of accomplished French filmmaker Michel Gondry – built a working shower that drips green slime and other putrid substances onto a white tiled floor. Marty Tzonev 14 FAV rigged Access, a video installation that projects personal footage of natural phenomena next to randomized images generated via Google.

Elsewhere in the exhibition space,Christine Kim 14 FAV is displaying Things I Forget/Things We Didn't Need, a multifaceted installation inspired by the deterioration of her personal memories. The introspective piece includes a looping computer animation of a running rat and a plastic terrarium made with fake grass. And Rio Roye 14 FAV and Advait Thakur 14 FAV are presenting a 3D-printed handgun that, in theory, shoots real bullets. The provocative piece is meant to raise awareness on how easy it is for virtually anyone to manufacture functioning weapons using current technologies.

“RISD artists and designers are very diverse, meaning each of these projects represents a student’s unique vision,” notesSteven Subotnick, a longtime adjunct faculty member who teaches animation courses and helps coordinate the annual festival. “Because they come into the department with a strong Foundation Studies background, they’re generalists from the start. And after graduation, many go on to work in television, advertising, film sets, fine art – everything you can imagine. They aren’t limited to one profession.”

Florida nativeLeigha Phillips 14 FAV offers a case in point in terms of the diversity of interests and influences FAV students pursue. After inspecting the textural structures of rope, live insects and wet cinnamon sticks under the microscope in RISD’s Nature Lab, she was moved to create Circadia, an elegant three-minute animation that takes a very close look at the beauty of nature and natural structure. After wrapping up the visual components of her project, she nabbed recordings of chirping crickets and dripping water from an electronic sound library. The audio files were used to make a final sound mix, which was edited at Machines with Magnets, a professional music studio in Pawtucket, RI.

Phillips’ melding of animation and science fits right in with what’s happening in the larger world, Subotnick points out. “Animation is a fast-growing field,” he says. “For example, we’re seeing scientists use it as a powerful tool for data visualization, among other things. And chemists are making discoveries based on 3D models. It’s an exciting time.”

This week’s FAV film screenings take place in the RISD Auditorium at 7 pm on May 13-17 and at 2 pm on Sunday,May 18. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for students with an ID. The FAV Open Media Exhibition is free and open to the public daily between 10 am and 5 pm.

–Abigail Crocker