Giant Steps is an animation by Michal Levy from music by John Coltrane.
Giant Steps is my first animation where I expressed my interest to translate music into the language of images and colors. This film was my thesis project in my studies of visual communication at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem.
I play saxophone and am deeply attached to music. When I play or listen, I always feel that I actually “see” the music. Both music and the visual arts share concepts like tone (of color or sound), composition, harmony. Naturally they mixed and mingled in my consciousness over the years.
In Giant Steps, I attempted to visualize Coltrane’s complex harmonic structure that has challenged many musicians and performers. I took the challenge in a somewhat different manner.
In the film’s preliminary design and analysis, I felt there was no need to invent something new in order to visualize the music. I discovered that all the answers to my questions were in the music itself. I just had to listen over and over again until I found them.
For example, the melody’s repeated pattern reminded me of a building’s structure. It is played twice, and similarly the framework of the building in the film is complete only when constructed twice.
I also tried to understand the emotional meaning of each musical phrase and to choose the direction in space in the visual world that will suit it best.
I was happy to find out that animating “Giant Steps” brings Coltrane’s complex piece within reach of listeners who are not jazz music fans.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity of making this film.