I’ve been working with the De Anza Chamber Orchestra for many years now, basically since I first moved to the Bay Area, and have done some fun projects with them over the years. The most epic was an animation sequence for the Carnival of the Animals made with colored pencil drawings I made by hand, and cut up in Photoshop and then animated in iMovie (I no longer have this posted online since I didn’t have permission to use the music that the the animation was timed with). Believe me, it was both silly and kind of a big deal.
Since then, I’ve primarily helped with designing their concert posters each quarter, but the idea for another animation/multi-media project was floated and finally we got around to putting it together for an upcoming concert. The idea was to perform Telemann’s Burlesque de Don Quixotte, which is of course inspired by the Cervantes novel, Don Quixote. There are 8 movements including the overture, and we landed on the idea of having most of the movements be 2 sets of images that transition one into the other – one depicting the image as it would be seen in the real world, and the second being an interpretation of the same image through the (delusional) eyes of Quixote. Doing a little bit of research and image sourcing for inspiration, I decide the easiest way for me to create these images would be to paint them, so set out to make some very loose acrylic pieces.
Once the paintings were done, I scanned them in and made some edits and pieced things together to make the foundations for my animations. So, each movement comes in around 2 minutes, so I used good ol’ Hype to create a slow cross fade animation that spanned the 2 minute time frame so that concert attendees would be able to witness the slow transition from one scene to the next in each movement (if you aren’t paying attention, you might be surprised at what you see at the end of the piece compared to the beginning!).
I made a mini website with buttons to transition between pieces so that audience members could watch along with the show on their phones (ideally the venue will also have a screen projecting them above the orchestra).
Here’s a quick walk-through of what each movement is about and the animation sequence for each (most of the credit for the notes and the idea itself goes to conductor Loren Tayerle whose brainchild this project is). I won’t make you watch each one over the course of 2 minutes – these are just abbreviated versions coming in at about 10 seconds each. If you want to enjoy the full experience, feel free to play with the mini-site while listening to the full piece!
The overture in the French style, like the first chapter of a great novel introduces the tone of the author, the main characters and provides hints of events to come.
Animation is just a maroon background with an image of the actual manuscript floating by, Ken Burns style.
Le Réveil de Quichotte
The Awakening of Quixote is a lullaby with a slow gigue like style and rhythm. Here we watch the sunrise over a beautiful Spanish landscape.
Image starts out very dark, then we start to see the silhouette of a landscape peek through. Slowly the full landscape comes into full light, and the clouds move slowly behind the mountain scene.
Son Attaque des Moulins à Vent
Chapter VII, Attack on the Windmills is the most iconic scene of the Quixote story. Don Quixote and Sancho approach the structures, and we see them for what they are – windmills, but we also get to see them as Quixote imagines them: whirling monsters. The Valorous Don Quixote attacks them.
Keep a careful eye as you see the windmill slowly transition into a monster.
Ses Soupirs Amoureux après la Princesse Dulcinée
Chapter XIII, Amorous Sighs for Princess Dulcina, Whereupon Don Quixote heaved a great sigh and said: “I can only state that her name is Dulcinea, her Kingdom Toboso, which is in La Mancha, she is my queen and her beauty is supernatural.”
We have the benefit of seeing Dulicnea not only as the beautiful princess of Quixote’s imagination, but as the pig farmer’s daughter, completely unawares of Quixote’s affections for her.
Sanche Panse Berné
Chapter XVII, Sancho Fooled, Sancho Panza’s misfortune at the inn that Quixote thought was a castle, therefore scoffed at the idea of a knight such as himself having to pay to stay the night. Sancho is then tossed in the air on a blanket like a dog at a carnival by the innkeepers as compensation for neither of them having money to pay for their stay.
This one might be my favorite. After the Castle transitions into an inn, the little Sancho guys gets tossed up and down from behind the walls.
Le Galope de Rosinante
Chapter XV, Rosinante’s Gallop is a piece for Quixote’s stead. Rocinante might be old but when he picks up the scent of the mares in the meadow he gallops over.
This animation is the least accurate, as it just shows the Horse fade from glorious stead, to tired and worn out beast of burden. Perhaps in another iteration he might get a little more active and start bounding off into the distance to chase those mares.
Celui d’ane de Sanche
Sancho’s sure-footed and noble donkey (donkeys are not known to gallop, which makes for a humorous visual). These two movements, both gallops, are Minuet and Trio-like in form with a da capo to Rocanate’s gallop or more like a Beethoven scherzo and trio in tempo.
This was a fun Monty Python-esque chopping up of an image and animating its motion.
Le Couché de Quichotte
Quixote’s Sleep – Second part of Chapter LXXIV Quixote falls into an eternal sleep dreaming of his adventures and the charge of his horse Rocinante.
This is just a simple fade from the Quixote figure in bed fading out into a deep purple night.
Concert is June 11, 2016 at 7:30pm at the De Anza Visual & Performing Arts Center.