"Footprints" is shown on Sphere platform, one of Time Magazine's "Best Inventions 2006"
ATHENS, Ohio (Nov. 28, 2006) -- Although it's forgoing Hollywood for science centers and museums, the new NASA film "Footprints" is a smash hit in its own right. And Ohio University Professor of Music Andre Gribou is one of the many behind-the-scenes people who helped bring this new cinematic experience to viewers.
Gribou wrote the score to "Footprints," the first fully produced film made for the Science on a Sphere platform, which was named one of Time Magazine's "Best Inventions 2006." Developed by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sphere uses four projectors to show full-motion films on a globe-shaped screen. This format allows viewers to see the film's images as if they have a seat aboard the space shuttle.
For example, viewers can watch Hurricane Katrina swirling its way toward New Orleans. When the film segment featuring Katrina begins, the accompanying music starts with a walking bass line and moves into "a straight-ahead jazz thing," Gribou said. The music, of course, reflects the musical traditions of New Orleans.
"The role of a score is to make more of what already exists -- it's an emotional reinforcement of what's taking place," Gribou says of his craft. He describes the score for "Footprints" -- which features live-action satellite images of earth and other planets as well as atmospheric and other weather phenomena -- as eclectic in musical styles, including tangos, jazz, solo piano and minimalist orchestra segments.
Gribou wrote the score for the 16-minute film over a period of six days last April. "It's just the way projects work sometimes," he says, reflecting on those 18- and 19-hour workdays. Producer Michael Starobin sent Gribou ideas and timings for sections of the film and Gribou would shoot back music he wrote using digital scoring software.
An eclectic score for "Footprints" is to be expected from a musician and composer who might best be described as eclectic himself. As a pianist, Gribou has toured with dancer Mark Haim to perform Bach's "Goldberg Variations." He also performs and writes music for a Latin Jazz group, Los Viejos Blanquitos. As a composer, he has written for dance, theater and other films (including NASA's 2003 film "Water for Tea"). And as a teacher, Gribou not only nurtures young composers, he also teaches the popular Ohio University course titled "History of Rock and Roll."
Museums in 10 U.S. cities will show "Footprints" this fall on their Spheres.
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