The summer prior to our senior year consisted of brainstorming. Each week we were all responsible for pitching character ideas, story ideas, and images to each other in the hopes that something would resonate within the group. Most of our ideas fell flat, but at the end of the summer, we had an image we all liked: a lighthouse in a forest.
Our group really enjoyed the perplexing nature of the image as well as the “world” that it took us to. It was from this image alone that our main brainstorming for What Remains began.
We toyed with many ideas. Was the lighthouse the central character? What else was in this peculiar world? Why is a lighthouse in a forest? Did it grow there? After laboriously brainstorming these issues, we eventually decided that the story shouldn’t be one to please everyone, and that instead a smaller group should design the story. Story development was then put into the hands of Drew Vosburg and Joel Bullis.Being influenced by such films as Marin and Imago, we wanted to take note of what those films did well, and what we also wanted to do well. Therefore, the biggest things we had in mind for our story were:
1. The story has to take the audience somewhere new.
2. The story must involve a journey
3. The story must be set in an “epic scale”
These were the primary criteria that our story had to meet.
The music was relatively tricky. In a piece that has no spoken dialogue, the music portrays ALL emotion and therefore must be complimentary to both the story and the animation. Joel was responsible for the music and early on found a very influential musical piece by Ludovico Einaudi called Primavera that he thought encapsulated the main themes of our story.
While Primavera was a wonderful starting point, the piece itself is far too long, doesn’t exactly fit the desolate environment that was create for our story, and is also under copyright. The music was made to better sell what the visuals are showing you. The motion of the music follows the movement of the characters on screen, and the musical keys change to match color keys, environments and to better set the emotional tone for the specific scene.
Leitmotif was used to give specific themes to the piece to keep the emotional aspect alive. Most notably, the “hope” theme that starts when the light is first seen goes through multiple variations and switches from major to minor to keep that hope a question in the audiences mind. This was all done in the hopes that the music would tell the story as well as not distract from the visuals.