The Water Cycle

1981, seven sections, total 40 minutes
Music by Karl Jenkins and Mike Ratledge


Thorn EMI commissioned The Water Cycle in 1981 as a launch album for their new consumer videodisc system called VHD. Unfortunately the system was never released to the UK public.

The overall video-music piece is in seven sections based around the theme of the journey of water through its natural ecological cycle:

1. Sea
2. Evaporation
3. Condensation
4. Precipitation
5. Seepage
6. Run-off
7. Sea

The sections were designed to form a whole programme or to allow viewing separately as small themes on their own (the discs would have provided random access).

I initiated the overall concept and production process and specified the timings and feel for the various sections. The musicians then created a base electronic rhythm track whilst video material was being shot on location. The basic visual material was then processed and pre-mixed synchronous to this rhythm track.

The musicians tracked the emerging visual results and worked in their own studio to build up a soundtrack in sections. The video was then re-mixed and edited to the expanded soundtrack. The musicians then added final musical elements to their sixteen-track master, mixed down to a final stereo master and this was laid back to the master video in post-production.

Although apparently simple now, this process was pushing state-of-the-art technology at that time in order to synchronise these elements together frame-accurately. In the commercial world it was more usual then to edit video to existing music, as in “pop promos” (now called music videos), than create them together in this way.