An ode to life and all the richness it holds, Giada Ghiringhelli’s mesmerizing experimental short Rhythm of Being (NSFW) is a glorious sensorial piece exploring the concept of existence as an inescapable, perpetual generative process. In the following guest post Giada recounts the experimentation, hard work and frustration which paved the three year journey of this mesmerising contemplation on the fleeting wonder of life.

Rhythm of Being is an experimental and sensorial film that explores the concept of existence as a perpetual generative process that we can’t escape. A notion that I’ve been continuously exploring for the past decade by using projections, human body, light and sound. I’ve always been fascinated in how we move in space through gestures and in time through transformation. By moving we trace the world with lines and fill the space with energy.

It started as an experiment and it took 3 years to complete. As many of my films, it started with images in my mind and abstract feelings that I wanted to explore.

I’ve always been fascinated in how we move in space through gestures and in time through transformation.

Originally the idea was to use Kinect to capture movement and space information, find a way to transfer that information into point clouds with Processing and then bring that in Krakatoa and Maya, in order to then be able to model the body in motion in different interesting ways. But I quickly gave up the idea because it was extremely difficult to accomplish on my own and I also didn’t want the final result to be too digital and perfect.

Kinect research

I then tried to work with UV lights, painting white shapes on the body in motion. The effect was not bad but still not what I wanted. That’s when I went back to my original way of working, which was with projections and light.

The first stage, which lasted a couple of months, consisted of creating carefully planned animated sequences of images (shapes, lines, dots) to project on the body.

Not knowing exactly what would be the result was very liberating, but also quite frustrating.

I shot during 2 nights in my living room. I put myself in front of the camera, projected the animated sequences on me and because I couldn’t control the camera too much while in front of the camera, my friend Antoine Birot helped me with camera operation and photography. My budget was almost non-existent so the Canon 5D Mark III seemed like the best affordable option.

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Post­production lasted years. I was working full time as an editor and I only had time to work on Rhythm of Being in the evenings and weekends, so the process was very slow. Not knowing exactly what would be the result was very liberating, but also quite frustrating and made the whole process long and painful. You’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, you just know when you find it. It took me three years to find it. It was true experimentation, both when I was in front of the camera and in the post­production phase. The film was like a monster and I was just following its growth and its path without knowing where it would lead me.

The fact that I mainly worked alone made things more difficult because I got stuck in processes and ideas; it’s a cycle from which is difficult to break free.

The film was like a monster and I was just following its growth and its path without knowing where it would lead me.

Working with projections, you often end up with a lot of unwanted imperfections everywhere in the footage, so I had to clean up a lot of the images frame by frame. Also part of the editing was actually done frame by frame, using hundreds of tracks and superimposing still frames.

Every time I got stuck with the visuals, I worked on the sound. It was a continuous back and forth between Premiere and Ableton/ProTools.

I also used After Effects and Particular to create particles around the body in motion in order to add more drama to the images. The final parallax of the universe is also done in After Effects with hundreds of images; it was so heavy for my laptop that I could barely preview it and I managed to render it high­ res only once, after that it kept crashing but thankfully that one render was good enough!.

Finally I got help for the final surround mix and additional sound design by Joshua Younger. The titles are created by another friend, Steve West.

I would say Rhythm of Being is a real visual experiment. With it I’m not trying to tell a precise story, but I want the audience to feel something. Each other’s story is different so interpretation varies depending on individual past and present experiences. For me, essentially it’s about freedom. Freedom to let go, freedom of the senses, freedom to be not only logic and reason but also instinct.

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