Archive X: Train Circuit

Last month I had the opportunity to prepare a 45 min. video for use at the Northern Spark Arts Festival in St. Paul, MN. Specifically, I was asked to create a video from archival footage involving trains, that could serve as video fodder for John Keston’s Instant Cinema project. In this project, three musicians would improvise based on live A/V feed from around the festival as well as my pre-edited work.

Northern Spark is inspired by celebrations of the Summer Solstice, and so runs all night long. It’s an amazing assembly of performing arts, this year spread out across the Lowertown area and including the recently restored, but still empty, Union Depot. Attracting over 20,000 people – who seemed to be mainly 20 and 30-somethings, I found the event to have a delightful, mellow and magical vibe.

Jon Steinhorst, the Instant Cinema project’s Artistic Director, gathered archival footage from archive.org and pretty much let me loose. I loved having this excuse to experiment, and especially to play with effects much more than with my other documentary work. In many ways this was more like painting and collaging. Plus, I LOVE trains!

Making the video for this purpose was a special challenge, as I was trying to make it interesting visually, but also design the audio in a way that the band could incorporate, mixing it in and out. I had no idea what they would find most useful, but I tried to limit the narration and orchestral music that accompanied most of the footage.

The version you see here is one I’ve further edited for audio to make this even more of a stand-alone piece. There are five main “movements,” each with its own feel and theme. I had a blast making it, and hope you like it too!

PS, It’s the nature of trains to take you on a journey, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.


4 Responses to “Archive X: Train Circuit”

  1. 1 Patricia Okaya
    July 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    What a terrific video! I love trains and it was great to see all the old ones and the many different production shots. Thanks so much, Amy, for all the good work!

  2. 2 Amy
    July 5, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks Mom! It’s in our blood!

  3. July 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I wasn’t able to get your video to play. This is the error message I got:


    The creator of this video has not given you permission to embed it on this domain. This is a Vimeo Plus feature.

    • 4 Amy
      July 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Becky, Thanks for the heads up!
      I have changed the codes so hopefully it will work better for you now. Please let me know if you have further problems. Thanks so much for watching!

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