There were several difficulties concerning the animation for Herqueville. The original idea was to continue what I had started to do in the two early exploratory performances that I did at the very beginning of the project. This was a while ago and it seemed hard to connect with what I did then. The momentum was lost. But the central idea sort of remain intact, the objective was to animate fire from within the rocks. Other objectives became apparent : creating a relationship between the live action shooting, the photographs and the prints, which means trying to work at the point of transition between those three, and creating more direct sync relationship with the music. Both of these objectives have to do with using the animated segments not as foreground elements but as much less noticeable interventions that would have mostly a relational role between other things. So that the animation would not be there for itself but for how it affects other things. It was somehow the contrary of what the animation is actually used for that is more or less for its spectacular character and for the production value it adds to the film.
This was not to be easy to do because in the film that resulted from last summer work, there were long subtle transitions which were quite fragile, the viewer’s awareness of those faint effects could very easily be destroyed if the attention of the eyes was to be simultaneously solicited by animated visuals. Another thing I was worried about had to do with the prints : to what degree could I allow myself to animate over the prints? If I decided to work with those in the first place, it was because I thought they had a lot of strength just on their own. I did not want to obliterate that strength, the prints needed to be seen sufficiently often and for sufficiently long time with nothing that would modify their original static strength. So there was a danger of doing too much in relation to the prints. Those preoccupations were all leading to a very discrete and understated use of animation. But the draw back was that too little animation could appear meaningless and superfluous. If it was going to be there at all, enough of it was needed so that it establishes its own character and sense of necessity, but, at the same time, it should not destroy or affect in a reverse way the subtle and fluid rhythm that was already there.
A last problem, which has to do with what I have just developed, was to animate over a film which appears as if it was already completed and which leaves no specific place for the animation. This is something I had already done last year in Toi la mordore, a music video for Cléo Ste-Marie’s song. The music video was shot and edited by Guy Edouin without any storyboard that would have define where the animation would come in. I had been telling him to do his work and that I would manage afterward to fit in. So Guy and the editor did something that could have been considered as a finished film and that apparently did not need any animation to be added to it. At first it was puzzling and difficult to figure out where to start from, but I eventually got my way in the interstices of the existing film and I succeeded to create on top of the film a layer of animation that did not act as a series of foreground elements but that did completely transform the film. So when, a month or so ago, I finally decided to begin creating a layer of animation on top of Herqueville, I constantly was referring mentally to what I had done in Toi la Mordore.
It is now almost a week ago that I got the feeling that maybe it was working, that even if it was faint and sometimes hardly noticeable a tangible energy was starting to arise from the thread of animated intervention. I feel very optimistic about the animation and my work is going faster and faster and is getting more ambitious. I started not being sure that I would keep it in the film (I would have bet of a «no»). Now it almost certain that it will stay. In a week from now, I should reach the end of the film and the first turn will be finished. I will still to go over all this again, make changes, removed some of it and add new segments. But that is going to be easy compared to the uncertain path I have been following until now.