Music Links

London Philharmonic Orchestra – ‘Time [The Old Tree with Winding Roots Behind the Lake of Dreams Mix]’

Here’s another track I frequently use in my workshops (usually during the ‘Beehive’ exercise).

I was introduced to this by the artist Roger Dean – best known for his fantasy landscapes on album covers of prog rockers Yes.

In the mid 1990s Roger was asked to design the landscapes for a viking-based computer game being developed as the pet project of the creator of Tetris, for which the London Philharmonic had recorded some orchestral arrangements of the music of Pink Floyd.

The game also needed motion capture sword (and axe) fights – but as there is no record of how the vikings actually used their weapons – and in fact some of their weapons are only briefly described in legends, such as the Heptisax (a type of short-poled halberd) mentioned in Beowolf – the game needed an expert in medieval combat to reinvent a school of viking swordsmanship and to train stuntmen to perform the necessary ‘micro-fights’.

Roger knew exactly the right person, having himself trained for a few years with probably the world’s leading authority on European (as well as Japanese) pole arms – my own Kendo Sensei Roald Knutsen. Having been brought onboard to choreograph the fights, Roald then suggested that, while it would take about 6-9 months to train ordinary stuntmen to move in the proper way, he could achieve the desired level of skill in less than 3 months by using two kendoka from his own dojo.

And so it was that, after a few weeks of training with fukuro-shinai for one-armed swords/axes and shields improvised out of balti-dishes, I found myself on a flight to the House of Moves in L.A. where we pushed the ‘envelope’ of motion capture to the limit – quite literally, our capture of two persons fighting with weapons and shields being the first time motion capture had been used for such a large range of movement.

And the game? Sadly, as is common with such projects, it was never completed or released.