Emma Clarendon spoke to Doug Foster, the video designer behind the new Sounds and Sorcery extravaganza, based on Disney’s Fantasia. It’s now playing at the Vaults, London until 30 September 2018.
What can audiences expect from Sounds & Sorcery?
It’s a walk-around experience in which the audience can explore a variety of themed tunnels, each space is inspired by an individual scene from Fantasia, Walt Disney’s animated film, made in 1940.
How easy has it been from your perspective to try & recreate Fantasia in this way for audiences?
We haven’t recreated the world of the film, but have attempted to reimagine it with fresh eyes and a modern approach. The four film installations that I contributed to the show are all motivated by the music, as the original animation was, but the new imagery has been created with multiple layers of live action videography. I avoided the use of computer-generated images in order to retain a handcrafted feel.
Have there been any technical difficulties in creating the video design?
The biggest technical challenge in making the films was to maintain a tight synchronisation between the images and the music. Creating the more abstract visual sequences for Leopold Stokowski’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor involved interpreting the music as moving shapes, colours and textures in as visceral a way as possible, but with temporal precision.
The only other complication that we had to plan for was that our underwater Arabian Dance performer did need to breathe occasionally! We shot the dance in a few sections to allow her to come up for air and each section had to be quite long, but the dancer embraced the challenge and learned how to hold her breath for impressive stretches of time while manoeuvring gracefully underwater.
How would you say working on Sounds & Sorcery compares to the other projects that you have worked on? For me it’s been a novel experience to create projection installations for a musical walk-through show, rather than for an art exhibition, and it’s whetted my appetite to make films that interact with live performance in the future.
When you first heard about the concept of the show – what was it that made you want to be involved? Fantasia was the first film that I saw in a cinema, on a primary school outing in 1969. The experience has stayed with me ever since and it probably had a big effect on my career path. I couldn’t turn down the chance to participate in this Fantasia inspired project and especially the opportunity to pay homage to the Toccata and Fugue sequence which was so innovative in it’s time.
What do you think the main appeal of the show will be? I hope that the show will provide a stimulating multisensory adventure for people of all ages and that it will be an entertaining way to introduce many youngsters to some rousing classical music.
By Emma Clarendon
The Vaults Presents Sounds and Sorcery: Celebrating Disney’s Fantasia continues to take place until the 30th September.