Carpe Diem String Quartet's “An American Story” examines ancestry using music and animation.
This project was originally envisioned as an in-person concert with audience participation driving the path the music and stories took. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancellation of live performances necessitated the musicians' decision to reimagine the piece presented online as an all-virtual work.
Here's the link to the project, complete with detailed descriptions from the quartet: https://www.carpediemstringquartet.com/an-american-story
Each member of the quartet - violinists Charles Wetherbee and Marisa Ishikawa, violist Korine Fujiwara and cellist Ariana Nelson - researched into his or her past and drafted a story tree describing the journey of an ancestor to the United States. Each story develops between “choices;" stopping points at which viewers can select (on-screen) options to determine how an ancestor’s story will proceed. From the story outlines, I began research and development to produce storyboards for each narrative (and all the possible story outcomes), using family photos and details wherever possible. Excerpts below:
Each member of the quartet composed a new piece of music for their stories. The full quartet played and recorded each musician’s piece, which I then synced up to the scenes I had boarded and animated. Intro clips below:
The full sequence of music + animation is over 90 minutes long! So, many scenes remained less fully animated than I would have liked.I loved diving deep into the historical references for each time period - so many details went into trying to describe the specific in each narrative using only music and visuals, no words or voiceovers.
The scenes are drawn in Adobe Animate and compiled in After Effects with various textures.
This collaboration was another one of my favorites to work on...each musician's story and musical composition was so different and moving in its own way. I feel as if I know each of them on another level, though I have not met any of them in person (yet!).
I am grateful to have once again been trusted fully throughout the animation process, as they allowed me freedom to bring the vision from rough sketches to final renders. Drawing these stories to life with each wonderful piece of music was a gift to my soul.