The story of one Carnegie Mellon graduate's award-winning short film, Sports and Diversions, goes hand-in-hand with the university's interdisciplinary culture.
Inspired by the music of Erik Satie, Bum Lee began his undergraduate thesis project by animating a series of black and white figures to the rhythm of the composer's work. Lee's interpretation of the 1914 piano compositions was energetic and creative, but was also bound by copyright restrictions placed on the recordings of Satie's pieces.
"I wanted to continue working on the series, but I was blocked creatively when I realized that I couldn't exhibit the work with someone else's recordings," said Lee.
So he set out to find a solution. Lee enlisted fellow Carnegie Mellon students Pei-wei Lin, a pianist, and Haseeb Qureshi and Eric Boulanger, sound recording engineers, to produce an original recording of Satie's music.
"It was a great experience to work with the animation," said Lin, a 2006 graduate of the School of Music. "We got to problem-solve timing issues by watching the animation and adjusting the music."
"Without Pei-wei's performance, this project wouldn't have progressed," added Lee, who was recently awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and is now studying in Korea. "Some of the animation was already finished, so it had to be adjusted to the new recording. This gave me a different perspective on Satie's music and a chance to make improvements."
Sports and Diversions took home the animation category award in the 2006 Little Big Films competition, a contest created by Landmark Theaters — the largest theatre chain in the United States devoted to independent films. The film also won the 2006 Canon International Best Film Award at the Imago Film Festival's Under 25 Competition.