For my project I wanted to explore soundscapes for abstract videos. In particular I wanted to find a way to create sounds from the video image through the use of algorithms.

I went searching on the internet for a script to use in After Effects and found this Expression by Todd Kopriva :

targetLayer = thisComp.layer(thisLayer.index+1);
samplePoint = targetLayer.effect(“Point Control”)(“Point”);
sampleRadius = [1,1];
sampledColor_8bpc = 255 * targetLayer.sampleImage(samplePoint, sampleRadius);
R = Math.round(sampledColor_8bpc[0]);
G = Math.round(sampledColor_8bpc[1]);
B = Math.round(sampledColor_8bpc[2]);
A = Math.round(sampledColor_8bpc[3]);
outputString = “R: ” +R+ ” G: ” +G+ ” B: ” +B+ ” A: ” +A

This script uses video locators to read the RGB values of the pixels under them. The output of which is then fed into a text generator. I have reworked this function so the values generate audio. By doing this I have replaced the original soundscape with an algorithmically generated alternative – the sound is still linked to the scene, but where the original audio was associated with the scene only by being generated independently at the same time and location, now the picture has a direct link to the audio as it is its creator. You could say the video plays the audio.

I tested the script on a sample video (see below Experiments with Sound and Video) that I had laying around and found that I could attach this it to the frequency node of the Tone effect. This would set the frequency to the value of the colour sampler’s output – in this case, somewhere between 0 and 255. I then modified the value to give me a range of 20 – 15,000 which translated into Hertz.

When I got close to what I wanted I swapped the standby video for the final video and got to work on fine tuning. I have delay on some of the tracks and reverb on others. After Effects struggled with some of the early compositions so I broke them down into simpler tasks and rendered them individually.

The Middle Kingdom 中国

Beijing 北京

Beijing (北京) on a sunny — though hazy — winter’s day. Beijing does get clear sunny days when its windy.

It’s cold in December. A bit of a no-brainer statement for everyone who lives in the northern hemisphere, but for us equatorians, where it only gets cold in the office, the sub-zero chill of Beijing gets me shaking uncontrollably.

I shot the above picture while my wife was browsing in the bookstore next to an art gallery. Lucky for her, she can read Chinese. Once I realised that there weren’t any suitable books for me, I went outside to make my own art.

In the middle ground of the picture above, there are some small businesses trying to eke out an existence butted up against the train line behind them. In the background, through the haze, is the city core, with its buildings glinting in the fleeting sun.

We were at the Today Art Museum to see an exhibition by Lu Shengzhong titled “Last Century — Lu Shengzhong’s Solo Exhibition”.

Lu is a Chinese artist who specialises in paper cutting. He is also the teacher of a friend of mine Li Hongbo 李洪波, who is also an accomplished artist working in paper.

Lu Shengzhong - Last CenturyLu Shengzhong - Last Century (detail 3)Lu Shengzhong “Last Century”


Li Hongbo - Ocean of Flowers 2015

Li Hongbo “Ocean of Flowers” shown at the Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore 2015.



The Palace Museum 故宫


This is a shot of the moat surrounding The Palace Museum (故宫), also known as The Forbidden City. The moat is frozen. The cold makes my nose run and my eyes water. I try to operate my camera with my gloves on. For the most part this is achievable, however, I later discover that sometimes I change the shutter speed when cocking the shutter (yeah, the camera is that old). Speaking (writing) of old cameras — this one, a Yashica TLR 635, was made in 1958. I get a lot of curious looks from people when they see the camera. Two people gave me big grins and a thumbs up. Others tried to look through the viewfinder, which is a large, deep square on top of the camera.

The Palace Museum is amazing. Built from the early 1400s, added to, and renovated over a few centuries, the place is vast, but it has a feeling of emptiness. Tourists fill the void.


The Palace Museum 故宫

Tourist at The Palace Museum 故宫


Yonghe Temple 雍和宫

Yonghegong 雍和宫

Yonghegong (雍和宫), located in the Dongcheng District, Beijing, started out as a court in the 1690s before it was converted into a Lamasery — a temple dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism — by the Yongzheng Emperor in 1722.

We met an artist on our first night in Beijing who comes from Mongolia. He has an interest in Buddhist scriptures and has been helping the Yonghe institution with their extensive archive of woodblock prints. We got a peek at some of the collection.

Yonghegong Yonghegong Woodblocks



Temple of Heaven 天坛

Tian Tan 天坛

Tian Tan 天坛

Tourists at Tian Tan 天坛

The above three pictures are from the Temple of Heaven, also known as Tian Tan (天坛). Built from the early 1400s the complex was visited by emperors for annual ceremonies of prayer for good harvest.

Tian Tan Tian Tan (detail)

Herbert Brewster

The photo above was taken by my grandmother’s uncle, Herbert Brewster, when he lived in Manchuria from 1913 — ca. 1922.

Knotty Tree

Notty Tree

Bukit Merah, Singpapore. 2014.
Nikon D200.

Red Roofs

Red Roofs

Serangoon, Singapore. 2014.
Nikon D200.



Kirribilli, NSW, Australia. 2005.
Fuji RHPIII. Nikon 601.



Kirribilli, NSW, Australia. 2006.
Fuji RHPIII. Nikon 601.


Red Tail

Mascot, NSW, Australia. 2001.
Fuji RDPII. Nikon 601.