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March, EDINBURGH The Making of LostOscDoc



In the middle of March I spent five days recording in Edinburgh, for COM8006: Self-shooting a Documentary. I had chosen the record label/collective I am associated with, Lost Oscillation, as my subject matter and wanted to make a film portraying them as a synergistic group of friends and musicians, first and foremost, but also focus on the inner-workings of starting a label, finding a premises.


I had organised several happenings, in the cinéma vérité sense of the word, and planned on filming as candidly and naturalistically as possible. To this end I filmed, and filmed and filmed: I captured the rehearsals of two groups (Stillhound and Oowungit); the pianist George Bruce practicing/performing/busking in the Barony pub and his aunts house; a session in the Bluebird cafe (as well as interviews) with Angus Gunn; Jack and Dave mixing, discussing their approach and plans for the future; a session in Inverleith Park with Fergus Cook; Emma Lloyd performing in St Stephens Street kirk, where the collective are applying for studio space in the film.



In terms of filming, I knew that I wanted to film with the DJI Ronin gimbal even before I had started shooting. I decided that using the gimbal would give the camera movement (and therefore my presence, as I moved within the space of the film) a sense of slickness and fluidity that would have been unattainable by other means. However, there were several major drawback of using such an elaborate piece of equipment: firstly, the weight of the camera and rig was roughly 15 kilograms, which meant I could not film for extended periods of time – roughly five to ten minute bursts before the load became unmanageable. Secondly, due to the fact that the camera inside the gimbal is extremely conspicuous, it was hard to retain a sense of naturalism (or getting my subjects to act like the camera wasn’t there in the first instance) which led to a sense of performativity with my subjects (and potentially led to the abandonment of a narrative-based exposition). Despite this being a film about performance, I wanted to retain a kind of candid, fly-on-the-wall style which was practically impossible with the gimbal. Third, adjusting parameters on the camera, in situ, was made incredibly difficult and, as such, some shots were either over- or under-exposed, or you can hear me frantically turning the on the Canon 5D to compensate for differences in light, which is particularly evident when entering and leaving Banana Row rehearsal studios.

As far as the cinematographic aspect goes, I wanted to have a very deep depth of field and use a lot of smooth tracking shots. I wanted to combine conventional mid-range shots with more exploratory movements with the camera, and I wanted to focus on interesting elements of the mise en scene or elements of performance – such as the manipulation of the foot pedals in the opening sequence, or Dave Alexander’s right hand. Also, due the fact the camera was mostly in the gimbal, there was practically no way to zoom-in on my subjects which means despite the movement of the camera being relatively lively, there was little focal movement in terms of my framing shots.

In terms of sound, I knew that it was going to be the backbone of the film – this is a music documentary after all – and I therefore worked extremely judiciously to achieve a good live sound. Unfortunately, though, some of the interview footage was tainted by wind noise but I felt it necessary to include it regardless. With the oowungit session, for example, I had 6 channels of audio running into my computer: a secondary vocal mic (the other was going through the PA), a drum overhead, one (fairly directional) small-diaphragm condenser mic pointed at the guitar cabinet, one large-diaphragm condenser for capturing the rest of the room (PA vocals, drums and bass), as well as an XY stereo recording of the room. For Emma’s session, in the St Stephen Street church, I wanted to ensure the sound and presence of the massive space came across, and to this end I used 6 channels of audio – a DPA on the violin, 3 mics placed around the room, and XY stereo, which was then mixed to give as wide a stereo image as possible.

As far as the edit goes, there was a lot of footage and sessions that I had to cut; interviews, live sessions, public performances, private rehearsals. The justification for using overlays in Fergus’ section in Inverleith park was due to the fact I wanted him to disappear into the background, as if people could pass him by without even noticing, becoming entrenched in the space, but also give them impression that he had been there playing for a long time but utilising the overlays and opacity.  Overall, though, I was trying to find a balance between the performances and the interviews/Jack and Dave’s exposition, while maintaining a fairly smooth rhythm throughout. I wanted the opening credits to quickly suck the viewer into this world, but then slow the pace down again with the opening shot of walking to Banana Row and allow the narrative of this being a synergistic collective who, despite not defining it as clearly as potentially needed, work with and for each other to produce music.

By using an experimental form which combines the documentary form with more conventional music videos, I have sought to create a film which occupies a middle-ground between both forms to explore notion of the places and spaces and the ‘where’ and ‘how’ music making takes place – from performing to planning.


Aside from the film presented here, the only other footage I’ve had time to compile/edit from my time in Edinburgh is this session with Angus in the Bluebird cafe. This was originally going to be the ending sequence in my original cut of the film, but I had to leave it out, so consider it an outtake! 



Music and Recyling

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This is the floor plan for Robinson Library’s 4th floor.

The trash bins have been counted and placed on the this digital plan, according to their locations in the real space.

The colour of the illustrations is in accordance with the actual colour of the trash bins, which is set to categorize the trash generated within the building.

This digital plan is a discriminating one however, since it ignores those disabled people’s ability to understand it, say, people who are colour blind.

The reason why shapes like these are chosen to represent 4 types of trashes, is because these shapes look like how Chinese characters’ tones are annotated. They are mainly categorized into 4 types. For example: The  4 characters <医>, <移>,<乙> and <亿>, when pronounced,  require the one’s mouth to keep the same shape respectively, but  asks the one to generate 4 different tones to differentiate them. When teachers teach children how to pronounce them, they use <->, </>, <v> and <> to annotate these 4 tones (note that here </> and <> are slightly longer than they should be. However in reality they should look as of the same height with <-> and <v>; besides <v> should be the same when <>> is clockwise rotated 90 degrees. Here the Alphabet <v> is used, due to the limitation of this blog’s function). It is imagined if the trashes can have some relationship with music, since tones are already quite related to music, at least fragments of music.

Research is needed.

Could this be a way of recycling the trash into beautiful things, in a trans-disciplinary way?

1644 In-Situ: Homeoffice

Image from:

Above WAS what happened in Far East. Here, <Far East> is used to show a geographically European centred perspective. The reason lies that the server of this blog is currently provided by a European country and its institution.

This may be what happens to Newcastle:

A. D. 1644/04/25——a day to be remembered.

Recommended reading:


What Do You Mean by Urban Regeneration?

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Discuss about urban planning. Take Chongqing, for instance.

What do you mean by urban regeneration?


Recommended reading:

Degen, M. and Garcia, M. (2012) The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’: An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration and Governance, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 36/5, 1022-1038.



Listening to waves

Joyce Hinterding at AV Festival 08, taking it to extreme, transforming the gallery into a giant listening device. I wish I had done that, but still planing on building a large coil, capture sounds and use then for my Documentary Film soundtrack.

PC music

Another of my ‘instruments’  making music; this time three tracks quickly edit in Audacity (harddrive, ethernet and mouse). The one making the high pitch noise is the mouse, just love how crazy loud it is. Also I continue to be fascinated by these ‘silent’ objects and how much noise they actually make.

Pickup Coil Exploration

I did some further sound exploration with the telephone pick up coil.

Below you can listen to some of the sounds I captured:

Pick-up coil recordings

Playing the camera. I like the idea of using one something made specific for one purpose and subvert that; the same way you can edit photos on Audacity, using a camera to generate sounds.    I used a telephone pick-up coil, recoding the electromagnetic waves generated by operating the Panasonic GH4. Each button push created a specific sound, especially the electronic shutter. It felt almost like playing a instrument because of a certain predictability of the sounds coming from the camera. Next to play with is my old Canon 50D.

Playing the Table

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With the help of Makey Makey you can redesign your tools and control your computer using any object.

This is my first trial, Playing the Table.

something to play with


Started playing with Pure Data, first tutorials etc, meanwhile I found this. All I need is some interesting data..