University researchers fusing sound and vision in film

Issue date: 22 April 2005

Issue date: 22/04/05

Cutting edge research projects investigating the importance of links between sound and vision in film are being spearheaded by two of the South West’s leading universities. These research projects – at the University of Plymouth and the University of the West of England - are set this week to receive global broadcast TV exposure.

Researchers at the University of the West of England are studying innovative approaches to music in animation. Working with students from the Royal Academy of music, animation students from UWE, are partnered at random and working primarily via the internet and e-mail. These students have just five weeks to produce a one minute film complete with soundtrack. Unlike traditional approaches where the composer creates music to fit a film or the film is drawn to fit in with the music, in this research neither party is pre-eminent, thus creating a truly collaborative experience.

Chris Webster, Head of Animation at UWE explains: “As a commercial animator/film maker you are going to work with a whole bunch of very creative people, from camera crew and editors, to designers and producers. Within universities it is vital that students understand the entire process and are prepared for entry into the commercial world”.

At the University of Plymouth researchers are developing new tools to aid the film composer, creating software programmes that can analyse and recreate the style of the great composers or learn emotional responses to music and film, and compose accordingly.

Head of the university’s Computer Music Research Laboratory, Dr Eduardo Miranda explains: “We are interested in devising programmes to compose music. One project, led by Visiting Research Fellow Patricio De Silva, is investigating the rules behind individual pieces of music, breaking down the works of great composers in order to extract their musical DNA. Ultimately this will help us find out why we find beauty in certain works”.

Another of the University of Plymouth’s research projects focuses on the link between music and emotion, and has potential application to the film industry. Eduardo continues: “Our software will watch film images, the characters, their faces and expressions, the colours, weather and other visual factors, and then automatically compose music for those particular sections of the film”.

Thanks to a £160k Video South West project funded by the South West Regional Development Agency, these cutting edge research projects have been brought together in a concise five minute film, released on 19 April to thousands of news organisations world wide via the Reuters news agency. This is the eighth such film to be released. The VideoSW project, the first of its kind in the UK, means that hundreds of millions of people across the globe gain a new perspective on the south west region and enhance recognition of our universities’ strengths in research and innovation.


Editor’s notes

The higher education institutions that have actively collaborated on the VideoSW project are:

Arts Institute at Bournemouth
Bath Spa University
Bournemouth University
Dartington College of Arts
University of Bath
University of Bristol
University of Exeter
University of Gloucestershire
University of Plymouth
University of the West of England

They work together through the Higher Education Regional Development Association South West ( where more information about the project in general is available), supported by Research-TV

For further information please contact Samantha McKay, Public Relations Officer at the University of Plymouth on tel 01752 233981/e-mail

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