Animusic 2 (2005)

by | Dec 26, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Animusic 2 (2005)

Animations directed by Wayne Lytle
Music: Wayne Lytle, Mussorgsky
Studio: Animusic AM1152
Video: Choice of 16:9 or 4:3 plus other display options
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0
Extras: Director’s commentary on each; Animated musical menus; Art development slides; Looping option; display of animation names option;  options on each of 8 animations include: multiangle, rehearsal, 4-way split view, 6-way split view, set construction, render progression, multimix, and closeups
Length: about 45 min.
Rating: *****

We reviewed and raved about Animusic 1 earlier. It was fullscreen only and had a stereo soundtrack, but one of the extras was a preview of a future version which would include surround sound and widescreen.  This is it, and we’re going to be giving away Animusic 2 in January to ten of our readers who registered!  Animusic is a breakthru in the creative presentation of animation with music. The process begins with the recording of the complete soundtrack, just as do most animations.  But then that soundtrack is input to a unique computer animation program originated by Wayne Lytle which already has finished images for the various fantasy musical instruments and their environment, but nothing jelled as to the instruments appearing to be emitting sounds. The program is so designed that the already-composed digital music files actually create the specific animation that plucks the various strings, beats the drums, toots the whistles, and so on.  This ensures an absolutely perfect synchronization between the music and the images of the imagined instruments, which takes the spectacular musical show into another whole realm.  As Lytle states on the audio commentary with one of the animations, the main task then remains creating the camera movements and angles, which are constantly changing during each selection.  There are also different framing and shots for the fullscreen and widescreen versions, and each of the special extra options involves different programming, such as multiple split views of the various strings and their plucking mechanisms in Resonant Chamber. The notes say that the camera moves and angles vary between the widescreen and pan & scan formats, so “if you are very detail-oriented and curious, you might consider viewing each format, regardless of the shape of your screen.” How about “obsessive?…”

In Starship Groove, which has a group of sort of stick-figure robots on top of an island-spaceship, you can use your remote’s angle button to select different viewing angles. The robots play electronic percussion heads on the front of their bodies. Pogo Sticks is the shortest of the selections, with a group of tall single-string instruments with arms playing themselves. They look to be inspired by the electronic instrument known as The Stick. They also have wheels and track around a series of pathways while they play.  The giant stringing instrument in Resonant Chamber is a sort of melting-together of several guitars, each with their own little pluckers. Cathedral Pictures is the only selection not composed by Lytle.  it is a medley of some of the most exciting portions of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, including the concluding Great Gate of Kiev. The setting is a fantasy cathedral organ installation which includes all sorts of percussion instruments. The option here is to see the construction of the “set” while hearing the music. My favorite of the original Animusic was Pipe Dream – a basement setting with little tennis balls shooting out of pipes, arcing thru the room and striking various strings and drums to create the music.  Sometimes a ball would shoot out on the far side several second before it finally fell against a string and produced a sound. For the sequel Pipe Dream was given an entirely new piece of music to play and the “set” was modified with different lighting, and the basement environment was made to look older – with dents in the wall where some balls went astray, etc. Fiber Bundles has a series of different lines and patterns making the sounds, and the option is to combine all the different images into one complex visual at once. I am not partial to drum solos, but I found Gyro Drums one of the most interesting of the eight pieces on the DVD.  It involves little robots playing the drums again, but there are seeming hundreds of them and they are arrayed on various circular assemblies of pipes which revolve around one another. This one will be a great demo for your subwoofer(s). You can split the views four ways and watch four different robots playing their drums simultaneously as the option.

The final section is titled Heavy Light and is the most mind-blowing visually of all. The setting is a sort of Mayan pyramid on the surface of a sci-fi-ish alien planet. At first the top flattened surface seems devoid of activity, but then rectangular rocks in it rise up and laser beams of light are exchanged between them to the accompaniment of the musical score. There are two options for this selection: closeups and examples of the set construction from the preliminary outlines to the final images. The music makes no attempt to imitate acoustic instruments.  It is electronic-sounding but very creative, and seems to be a perfect fit for the antics of the various outrageous musical instruments. There is nearly always a strong rhythmic feel to the scores that supports the actions of the instruments. I deduce that some of the feedback the producers received on the original DVD was that the instruments all played themselves without any “sentient beings” involved and this became somewhat redundant. So this time, the little robots add a bit of humanity to several of the musical proceedings. The images are very clean and hi-res, and a high encoding rate was used for the DVD transfer – insuring the best possible video and audio quality. Animusic2 should appeal to audiophiles, videophiles, computer gamers, sci-fi fans, families (no sex or violence, mind you) – basically anyone breathing.  And it matters not what your musical tastes are either. Many times the sequel to an earlier project falls flat, but not Animusic2 – it’s even better than the original!

Don’t forget to register on our site to be eligible for one of the ten copies of Animusic2 we will be giving out at the end of January!

– John Sunier

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