Recently, the animated virtual reality feature, Crow: The Legend, won a handful of Emmy’s. We are still delighted to have been able to partner with Baobab Studios and John Legend to help make this project come to life. Upon the launch of this film, a new partnership was forged by Longhouse Media, Vision Maker Media, Native Americans in Philanthropy and Baobab Studios to create the #GenIndigenous VR Youth Fellowship, a yearlong virtual reality fellowship that has selected Raven Two Feathers as its first fellow.
Raven is a Two Spirit person, who is Cherokee, Comanche, and Seneca and Cayuga, and uses they/them/their pronouns. We are very excited to have them serve as our fellow this year and look forward to seeing many great things from them into the future in film and many other art forms. They produce for us a reflection periodically, and you can read their most recent reflection below.
We wish to say thank you to Raven for working so hard and representing the fellowship so well over the year and to Tracy Rector, Executive Director of Longhouse Media, for facilitating the fellowship program with Raven.
Generation Indigenous VR Fellowship – March and April 2019 Reflection
By Raven Two Feathers
I’ve finally gotten to stitching together the videos from my recent surgery. Aside from creatively sharing the identity story that I imagine in my mind, it’s been a slow start as my March and April turned into unexpectedly busy months with work and life. There was the standard fare of working on client videos, but I recognize that diving into creative endeavors truly sparked me back to life amidst the rocky waters of a post breakup blues.
An additional project that I began as part of this fellowship was to explore the landscape of sound and 360 audio experiences. The insights and inspirations from my time at the Port Townsend artist residency in January were now making their way onto the cutting room floor. It was time to create the soundscape for the story of “Lifting the Sky” as told by Vi Hilbert. Only problem, I was confined to the house due to healing and snow piling up outside, with only my most needed recordings at hand. If college all-nighters taught me anything, I learned to utilize the resources at hand: stock sound effects. I’d already planned to use stock footage for the fantastical elements of the piece, but it seeped into the natural sound effects as well.
I began my search and almost always came up with a plethora of options. The expansive world of sound, much like each mark and color that goes into a painting, needed the details that you take for granted: birds in the distance, subtle cracks of a branch as it breaks, everything that crunches under a footstep. The possibilities are endless, but the roadmap I made at the artist residency and the story I was supporting pointed me in the right direction. This was one less thing to think about, giving me room to create the sounds and spatial distance in these environments.
I discovered that there’s a creativity in both the development and participation in an audio only creation. There are clear cut sounds and there are echoes of something in the distance, what you wish to attribute those to is your choice. Intended as a stereo (2.1) output I was surprised by the final mix I’d submitted, and that was only listening to it at home.
When I stopped by the exhibition to drop off a friend’s art piece, I had a chance to listen to the audio, amongst the evening cacophony of people getting the exhibition ready. I hit play, pressed the headphones to my ears, and closed my eyes to immerse myself in the world. Even with hammering, drilling, and jingling happening in the background things sounded better than I’d expected. I had kept my head down as I worked on the piece, and by the time I resurfaced to experience it, I appreciated it even more. All the subtle sounds still came through and levels conveyed a depth in the environments, that were much like my baking, made from scratch. Even better was being able to share it with friends and strangers alike at the opening.
Even more personally and creatively focused is a zine I’m creating with my friend from high school, Jonny, about my life (so far) about being Two Spirit. Tracy and Jonny both aided me in finding this medium and bringing an upbeat comic version of myself to the world. This source of expression also helped me to think from different viewpoints on how exactly perspective is developed and perceived. Story boarding comes to mind when trying to flesh out concepts and ideas before having them realized via video or media. Its been refreshing to work in this medium and expand my ability to stretch my perceptions on narrative and story.
Narrowing down which stories to tell is one thing but translating them to a medium I’d never worked in before was another. The movement of film and realness of photography hadn’t given me the wacky freedom to create the image of anything. The budget being the same, the cost of a pencil and paper, whether it be a drum group crammed into a car or me sitting at my computer. It’s all possible. As I continue working on this zine and so many things, I never thought would be accessible in my lifetime, the more I believe things aren’t as far out of reach as they seem. Especially when you surround yourself with good people.
Up next I plan to continue editing my 360 short, work on the text for the zine, view the rough cut selects of the 3D buildout of Mildred Bailey and begin the treatment for my six part web series on Two Spirit people.