flummery: Image of the Earth exploding (Default)
[personal profile] flummery
Better late than never *g*

Below are some thoughts on what we were trying to do with the Metavid (link to actual vid here in case you want to watch before reading. Or, link to the lyrics). It's mainly me (Thing 2) writing below, with occasional input from Thing 1.

But first... we owe an awful lot of people thanks for this one, it just could not have been made without all the help, so thanks to everyone who let us use vids, clips, their thoughts, shouted "LLAMA!" at us, and all the rest.

We really did want to do a Challenge vid this year, but I don't think either of us were expecting to do this particular vid.

It went like this:

[livejournal.com profile] teenygozer found a cache of Sheldon Allman's music, and shared it with us. Being as it was rather filkish, something I admittedly tend to ignore, I ignored it. Margie grabbed it up and listened to it all.

Then she presented me with one song out of the bunch and said, "Listen to this song."

I said, "What fandom?"

She replied, "I'm not going to tell you what I think it might be, because you always disagree with me when I do that."

I said "hmf" and then listened to the song. "Actually," I said. "That doesn't so much sound like a particular fandom to me, as vidding itself. You know. Embodied, sorta."

She looked at me and said, "Oh, fuck you." (Didn't know she wasn't the soft-spoken fan she appears to be, DID YOU?) "You're right, and now we're going to have to make that vid, and do you know how hard that's going to be?"

She wasn't wrong. Also, as a result, I still have no clue as to what she originally planned for that song, because she didn't tell me then, and she has now forgotten. (Or so she CLAIMS.)

In a stroke of blind luck (combined with a lot of frustration and swearing), we decided to use this vid as our introduction to Premiere Pro. We'd been planning to make this leap upwards from Premiere 6.5 soon anyway, but I just cannot imagine how we would have completed it without Premiere Pro, and Pro's sequences, which let us embed track mattes, inside track mattes, inside track mattes. The opening sequence is an insane number of nested track mattes. There was a lot of cursing while we learned this, especially when we realized that Luminosity, despite nobly giving it her best, wasn't going to be able to help us learn this at all. Pro and 6.5 are just too different. Also, there was a degree of aggravation when we discovered that if you want a change to be conveyed through many different levels of sequences, you need Pro 1.5, and not just Pro.

The basic concept of the vid was always the idea of representing the different eras of vidding, in terms of technology, progress, and hurdles/resistance to overcome. The important thing was to try and key people into what was going on in the vid very early on, and the change of technology being represented in each section.

Kandy Fong's "Both Sides Now" for the very earliest vids, and Pressure for the leap to VCR vidding, were basically the first things we decided on. Pressure in particular was something we absolutely wanted to have in there, since it showed the process of vidding itself, something we just couldn't get from anywhere else (that we know of). We also hoped these two vids would help the audience out with the theme of our vid, since [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh does her retrospective every year, and we knew a good chunk of the audience would be familiar with these vids, and what they represented. Killa's Dante's Prayer for computer viding was one of a few we considered, and won out because it was one of the earliest either of us could remember seeing, and we figured that it was another one the audience would recognize.

As should be pretty clear from that, we were working on the theory that this was going to be a fairly targeted vid, directly at the Vividcon audience. Neither one of us is sure how people not familiar with Vividcon would react to it.

The song, and therefore the vid, is separated into five basic sections: "riding on the train", "flying in the plane", "traveling in spaceships", "huge disaster", "walking on the ground" -- back to the very beginning. In each of the first three, some people flock to the new technology, while some hang back and shake their heads over these dangerous new notions.

Originally, we were going to be more explicit about people disparaging new technology to stick to the old, using more clips of vidding technology to emphasize things -- basically, we were going to vid the metaphor more literally (instead of a train, we'd show a slide carousel or a film projector, etc.). But it didn't take long to realize that despite writing up the timeline and the references back to earlier tech in a notebook (… repeatedly), we couldn't even keep track of where we were and what was going on. We knew there was no way we'd hold an audience. So we decided that we'd do that to a point in the first verse, using a printing press, then trust the audience to carry the idea of "the previous technology" through with them on the sections that referred back to what the good lord intended people to do. To do that, we wound up vidding the lyrics pretty literally, hoping that we'd built a strong enough base that they'd come across as the extended metaphor.

The first verse was clearly (to us *g*) about the switch from "walking" (print fandom such as zines, APAs, etc. as the main form of fannish creativity and storytelling) to "trains" -- in this case, the very first music vids/slideshows.

Clips (and what some of them meant)

1) The camera shutter/lens opening comes from the very beginning of The Frisco Kid, and opens onto a projector screen from M*A*S*H*; specifically, the one Henry, Hawkeye, and Trapper watched Henry's home movies on.

3) Inside the projector screen is "Both Sides Now" -- one of the very first 'vids', a slideshow set to music by Kandy Fong.

4) It moves on to Radar, trying to fix the projector, which has unraveled the film, and you'll note the
SCREEN GROWS LARGER HERE. Note it, because I had to kill myself to get that effect to work. The rest of this section stays inside the projector screen, tying it to that level of vidding technology. (Note from Margie: seriously, that effect ate up more time than almost anything else, and Seah deserves much cherry pie for pulling it off. It was awful. I still can't believe it's actually right in the vid now.)

5) Radar and now Fraser from Due South were our transition into explaining the projector = train metaphor.

6) The printing press clips are all from Newsies, and were meant to represent the print (zines) format. These and the following few clips were the only spot where we actually showed the technology/format we were metaphorically speaking about, rather than going with more literal-to-the-lyrics shots.

7) The next four clips are from L.A. Confidential, although we took liberties with the actual headlines. (Note the implication that Star Trek fans are a brutal bunch if angered). This was a combo metaphor: both fannish resistance to accepting new ways of doing things, and the beginnings of Hollywood's attempts to squash consumer control over things like recording and copying. We wanted to get that in as soon as possible.

8) The typewriter is also L.A. Confidential, and was another attempt to reinforce that walking = print, or the technology just before video.

After that, the idea was to show that no matter how attached you are to a format, there are always drawbacks, and maybe you might want to think about switching to something new/different...

9) We couldn't resist a shot of Jesus walking happily into Jerusalem on "like the good lord intended" -- and given what happened to him later, well. *cough* Perhaps if he'd found a train out of town... (Jesus Christ Superstar)

10) C.J. can't even walk along beside her own pool without falling in. (West Wing)

11) Likewise, Giles walks smack into a tree. (Buffy)

12) The Knights of the Round Table could maybe have used some horses... (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

13) … Except God clearly appreciates it when you wear out the shoe leather. (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

14) Neo thinks he can walk on air. More fool him. (The Matrix)

From there, the technology switches from trains to planes -- VCR vidding (which is when things really took off).

This section opens with clips from California Crew's vid "Pressure". For those not familiar with it, CaliCrew, amazingly, documented themselves making a VCR vid over the course of a weekend. Then they turned that footage into an actual vid of the painstaking process, set to "Pressure." We pulled out of the projector-screen frame to show the clip from the vid, as a clear separator between both verses and vidding milestones.

We wanted to frame the rest of this section with an old fashioned tv set, but though we searched high and low, and across hill and dale, we could not find anything that wasn't tilted at an angle or just weird. In the end, [livejournal.com profile] marycrawford sent us a simple cutout of the shape of a tv screen she'd made in Photoshop, and it worked beautifully.

The Clips:

1) The very short clip of a very old fashioned plane is from Voyagers (specifically the episode where they help the Wright brothers). It was nice to be able to use some kind of fannish representation of the very first plane. Also, we are both old-time Voyagers fans.

2) The next clip, an intermediate level plane, goes by too fast to be very interesting or identifiable, but is a plane from Indiana Jones. (The first 17 or so versions of this vid had a lot more clips of Indy, but the man moved so slowly during the scenes we wanted to use that eventually we gave up on him.)

3) The dogfight over Antarctica -- serious kick-ass level planes, here. (Stargate: SG1)

These three clips are, most obviously, just a quick progression (fannishly represented) of plane tech, but also serve to represent how fast VCR technology advanced, compared with what had gone before.

Next up is the resistance levels to this new sort of technology. You gotta love genre shows that let you play around literally with lines like "if Man was meant to fly he'd have a pair of wings!"

4) That's Ralph crashing into the hill, there, clearly not quite there with the flying. We had trouble finding this clip, because we kept ending up rewatching old Greatest American Hero episodes and cackling about how insanely slashy and fun they were.

5) Arthur has wings, yay! If we all had wings, we'd all be happy, clearly. It's a completely literal clip that we couldn't resist, and that made us both go "hee!" every time we saw it. (The Tick)

6) B.A. from the A-Team is the ultimate in resistance to this newfangled tech, and thanks to Margie's friend Jen for actually mailing the dvds to us so we could find just the right clip, and not be at the mercy of something like TVLand might have given us.

And then it moves from resisting the new tech, to sticking to the older tech, regardless of whether that's a good choice or not:

7) Back to Indiana Jones for the men jumping from the old jalopy to the train (very dangerous, tsk).

8) That's an actual angel being hurled against his will from that train by Silent Bob, perhaps arguing that God *wants* him to travel in this fashion. (Dogma)

9) Ray Vecchio makes the leap… (Due South)

10) … but Fox Mulder lands. And loses his phone. Again. For these two, we couldn't resist such a perfect paired shot on a "meant for me and meant for you" line, as well as the idea of both of them literally riding on the train, rather than inside a train. (Xfiles)

11) Jim Ellison also has a thing for trains, and for getting on them in very dangerous fashion. (Sentinel)

12) Poor Paul. He bangs up so pretty. And there really was nothing more perfect in the vid than the "God is Coming" train sequence. It was one of the first clips we laid down, and it never moved. God says, "get off the tracks!" (Miracles)

But then we made the leap forward to computers! And one of the first vids (that we saw, anyway) that was both beautiful and took full effect of what you could do with a matte was Killa's Dante's Prayer. We embedded it inside of a screen shot from our own computer, and as a result, it's inside Premiere, when we know Killa would have been working in Final Cut, alas. If you see this one on a full size screen, you'll see our actual timeline -- codename: The Metavid. As with "Pressure", we pulled this out of the framing device to be a clear marker between verses / technology, before switching to a new frame for the rest of the verse.

For this section, we wanted either a computer screen to be the framing device throughout, or an HDTV. We thought we had something that would work -- the widescreen TV they were selling in conjunction with Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds ads -- it was beautiful in theory, zooming in and out and being all bright and shiny -- but it sucked. There was something terribly off in the aspect ratio when we tried to use it. So I scoured the web at the last minute to find an HDTV on someone's actual TV-for-sale website. For a while there we were worried we'd just have to crop the top and bottom of the screen to indicate the switch to widescreen format.

But the search for the frame was actually much later. First came the clips:

1) This section starts with Killa…

2) …but moves quickly to one of the cheesiest space shows we could find -- Buck Rogers!

3) I wanted to continue with Buck, since the next part of the opening focused on the moon more, but Margie rolled her eyes at me and said I was dragging the vid down. (Note from Margie -- I was not wrong. Too much Buck!) We went with footage within footage -- the next clip comes from an episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" a history of the U.S. attempts to reach the moon -- but this particular episode focused on one of the very first film makers, and his extraordinary development of the very first special effects, in his movie "Le Voyage dans la Lune" by Georges Melies. It was meant to be a very subtle tribute to his work, since we've all used his techniques since.

Plus, the moon has a rocket in its eye.

Note from Margie: I do wish we'd been able to get hold of some Space:1999 as another cheesy space show to use in here, but it didn't happen.

4) The MST3K spaceship heralds the arrival of…

5) …a cutout of the MST3K crew, laughing at Galaxy Quest. The cutout was a physical piece of paper included in Margie's dvd copy of "Manos:The Hands of Fate." Or, as some of us call it: "The Giant Knees of Doom." (Note from Margie: by this time, Seah was a master of the track matte, and had the cutout matted over the widescreen tv matted over the footage. Woo!)

6) For "You'll never get it off the ground", we went with the original Battlestar Galactica. This was another instance of us being sidetracked for days by the necessity of sitting around and mocking the original episodes. (And then getting distracted and stealing the menu images for our other vid, cackling.)

7) And the reason we went with BSG for the first clip was so we could go with… BSG 2003 for the next clip, with the kickass new Battlestar Galactica on "and even if you do". This is one of our favorite bits in the whole vid, with the tossing in of a meta comment on one of our shows in the middle of a meta vid about our hobby.

From there, it's back to resistance to change, and people clinging to the old ways even when it might not be the best idea ever:

8) That's Johnny Smith foolishly screwing around on the wing. (Dead Zone)

9) Hercules escapes from Atlantis, and the guards who are chasing him with Jaffa staff weapons. No, seriously. I couldn't make that up. Watch the episode. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] marycrawford for sending us that clip. (Hercules: TLJ)

10) A plane vanishing -- Miracles again. Depending on your definition of a miracle, I guess.

11) Shatner pulls back the curtain to find a gremlin on the wing (Twilight Zone). This was a hard shot to make work. We had Shatner looking shocked. We had the gremlin making insanely stupid faces in the window. But not so much together. We went with the best one we could find, because there was no way we weren't using this episode.

12) Fraser and Vecchio hurtle to their death. This wasn't a very inspired clip choice, I have to say, but we were really desperate for plane clips by this point.

13) And a similar looking plane takes the terminal out, in a shot from The A-Team.

14) The seatbelt sign and plane that comes apart for just about forever both belong to Lost. I wonder if we should have had Charlie running up the aisle, pursued by flight attendants in there somewhere.

This was also the hardest section to find some usable combination of both "God" and the relevant technology, as evidenced by the fact that the best we could do was Demi-god. God does not fly on airplanes. Hmf.

Next, apocalypse! Mostly. But then everyone feels much better.

This one took a lot of talking out, because while we knew the gist of what we were going for here -- fandom refusing to crumple as the Nazis Hollywood officials attempt to strangle all creativity and fair use, anywhere, and forever -- we weren't completely sure how to show that. The only thing we were sure about from the beginning was that copy protection of various sorts was going to be a key factor here.

The switch during the course of this next section is from the loss of some older technology, to a sort of passivity and acceptance of the status quo -- but only to cover up rebellion. Sure, we'll give you back our TiVos… from our COLD, DEAD, DEATHGRIPS.

This final section has no framing device, because at this point the choices are so broad and things are changing so fast that it's almost a free-for-all; there's no one way to make -- or watch -- a vid anymore.

1) The tv signal is gone, alas. Foreshadowing! (From The Earth To the Moon)

2) We had to have the antique movie camera as soon as we saw it, especially for a line that was about old, lost technology. (From the Earth to the Moon)

3) A home video. With cake. More things that are lost; no one makes that sort of home video anymore, and certainly not using that same technology. Plus, the cake cracks us up, every single time we watch it. Cake! (Buckaroo Banzai -- no, really!)

4) Christopher Wey wakes up after the apocalypse, the perfect shot of a world with almost no people left in it. (Dead Zone)

5) The world blows up! Odyssey 5. We spent far too much time debating this one -- we specifically went back to the original footage, rather than our own "Haunted" vid, because we weren't going to thank ourselves in the final credits, and we feared that by NOT doing so, we'd give away who had made the vid. Yeah, seriously overthought that one, didn't we. (Note from Margie: I don't care, I still think it was the right decision. *g*) But we both loved the explosion fading in and out to static on the screen; it was a perfect lead-in to:

6) The Macrovision warning. Macrovision destroyed the world! Or tried to, anyway. I cannot remember which actual movie, out of the BILLIONS we rented searching for clips, the Macrovision warning came from. We only noticed it because for once, we let the movie run past the end credits because we were distracted, and there it was. We were psyched, because we'd always wanted either Macrovision or a DMCA logo for this section in the vid, as a perfect symbol for the attempt to control absolutely everything, and crush vidding in the process.

7) The tv sets in the post apocalyptic world came from Max Headroom, because really, where else are you going to find a world where TV is this pervasive? Uh. Besides my apartment.

8) For "start the world anew", we settled pretty early on the fandom we were going to use: Bobby and Darien from Invisible Man. And yet, this one was also up for debate -- whether to go with the more literal "watching old projector technology to discover how to repopulate the earth -- hush, I have no idea what you're implying, mpreg, what's that?" *cough*, or the clip that didn't make the cut -- "Bobby and Darien watching vids on their tri-dimensional data viewers, since that's all that's left." It wasn't an easy decision; the tri-dimensional data viewers are a thing of beauty, and we both badly wanted to get them into the vid somehow. Alas, it wasn't to be.

9) The clip for "we've agreed on one thing that we all are gonna do" was a really hard choice. We wanted something that showed a group of people in agreement, making the decision to do something, as a group, to fight back. We went through many shouting, arm-flinging arguments about what to put here, and ate pounds of goldfish crackers as we racked our brains for inspiration. We weren't entirely happy with this, although it was the best of the bunch. Although Buffy's "Now" is clear enough, the camera then pulls way back -- which is great for seeing the whole group, but makes it hard to tell what everyone is actually doing. Closeups tended to focus on a single individual with a weapon, and that was also not good enough, since we wanted the group. In the end, we decided to rely on group-think and the fannish hive mind. Enough people have seen Buffy that we felt they'd know what was going on here.

10) The people kneeling on the street are from Hair, and again, it was about a group decision, and in this case, one with religious overtones. It's also pretty damn creepy, and kneeling in obedient unison made for a great counterpoint to the group rebellion from Buffy -- vidders may have decided to say "screw you!" to TPTB, but TPTB are still determined to make people into obedient sheep doing as they're told. This is the sort of thing we're rebelling against.

11) The guy with his eyes forced open while he watches a screen is from A Clockwork Orange. Margie would not help me with this section at ALL. She just closed her eyes every time we reached it. To this day, it's possible she hasn't watched this part of her own damn vid. (Note from Margie: not all at the same time, no, but I think I've seen it all a few frames here, a few frames there. *shudder* At least it's shorter now, instead of lasting for 25 seconds or whatever it was early on. And Seah was well entertained watching me shut my eyes, or actually put my hands over my eyes, every time this came up in the timeline, so I don't know what she's complaining about.)

12) And he is watching -- the Zik Zak commercial: the first, the original, blipvert. (Max Headroom). For those of you who don't remember it/never watched it, the blipverts had a sad tendency to cause the watcher to blow up. But hey, first you spent a whole lot of your money buying their really cool but pointless stuff! We were torn here between having him watching mindless, sanitized crap, or watching something like a commercial. The Zik Zak was a risk because it was fairly context-dependent -- anyone who knows Max Headroom would probably recognize it, but these days, there's a good chance that most of the audience had never even heard of Max. But we decided it was worth it, since Max Headroom was itself a giant meta comment about the broadcast industry.

13) Poor, poor Frodo. (LotR)

14) Sauron. But seriously, you knew that, right? We couldn't resist this as a completely blatant "corporate Hollywood is EBIL!" sort of thing. We especially couldn't resist the fade into:

15) Network 23. Network 23, among other things, invented the blipverts. We were fascinated to hear this clip mistaken for Clear Channel in the Challenge show discussion because, if ever there was a modern equivalent of Network 23, Clear Channel is it. Only more scary. (There's a reason Max Headroom is featured so heavily in this section; we were tempted to just plunk in an entire episode here. We couldn't have asked for better footage for a slightly post-apocalyptic, media-mogul-controlled world where consumers are expected to be obedient little sheep who buy lots of crap from advertisements and believe anything they're told. A million thanks to [livejournal.com profile] teenygozer for the source footage!)

16) We had ten THOUSAND different ugly warnings we could have used at this point to indicate that the FBI/Hollywood thinks it is, in fact, God. When you have to search through dozens of dvds for clips, these warnings get old REALLY FAST.

And then comes the rebellion, also known as "now is the time in fandom when we hack". This section took some debate to sort out; we had a few different ideas of what to do here, and how to convey that a rebellion was starting up. Most of them were more physical -- actual fighting, actual rebellion. None of them quite worked until we went in a slightly different direction and came up with the idea of hacking as a metaphor for breaking copy protection.

17) Ray Vecchio convinces the old guy to break out his computer! (And hey, it's even a guy who runs the original tech – the trains).

18) The hands (Whose digits are these?)
--The Question (Justice League Unlimited)
--Bryce (Max Headroom)
--the twins, hackers capable of taking on a sentient AI (Odyssey 5)
--Maj. Sam Carter types like a madwoman (SG1)
--Some Guy from the Matrix (Matrix) (sorry, Matrix fans -- we were scanning for clips, not watching, and totally forgot to find out his name. If you tell us who he is, we'll change this.)

19) "Encryption Cracked!" from Justice League Unlimited. This was what the animated hands were doing in the previous set of clips, and when we saw that when it aired, we both knew we had to have it. So even though we had specifically avoided animation/anime throughout this, wanting to keep it in the "real" world, we couldn’t resist these two small clips.

20) "Download Complete" is from Alias -- and thanks, Killa, for sending this one along in our time of greatest need! This was the very last clip we pulled in to the project, and the last clip we laid down, and we were truly desperate for it. The alternative was a hideously ugly screenshot that I had photoshopped to cut out the middle for a blue screen, and picture of a torrent file download stillshot. Did I mention it was hideous? (Note from Margie: It wasn't that hideous. But it wasn't as good as the Alias clip, which we were intensely grateful to get.) We'd wanted a "download complete" sort of shot from the first day we came up with the idea for the vid, although the placement and to a degree the meaning of it changed slightly by the end. The original notion was specifically a completed torrent download, using "Walking on the Ground" as the file name, as a nod to the fact that there are always ways to distribute vids, and that we find them faster than TPTB can shut them down. With the Alias clip, that meaning was broadened (wonderfully) -- it could be a torrent, or an episode of something, or an MP3, or anything else that vidders use.

21) Llamas -- The 2004 Vividcon Intro Vid. When we reached the end, we weren't quite sure what to do. Margie said "Llamas." I said "That doesn't help me." We asked our betas. [livejournal.com profile] elynross said "LLAMAS!" I said "What is it with you people?" They sat there and shouted "LLAMAS!!!" at me until I folded. Llamas are vidders now, to us, and indicate that not only are we going to keep our tech, but we mock you with our fannish convention where we glory in having done so, and have fun as a group. Nyah! Ahem. Also, the llamas wave their arms to the beat, go them! Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] tzikeh and [livejournal.com profile] whatssnoo for use of the Intro Vid; this was a very last minute request on our part, and I really can't think of anything better that could have gone in its place.

22) The End, with llama – The masks come from a clip of end credits for the Three Stooges. The llama comes from llama.org. We wanted llamas at the end, and he does double-duty, covering up the "SpikeTV" logo beneath his furry bulk.

23) Closing credits image -- a poster called "Evolution". Yes, that's right, there's no part of this vid that isn't a mashup from *somewhere*.

And then the vid was over, and we were astounded at the reaction. We had held on to a few of our core ideas for it, but had had to change a lot in the process of making the vid, streamlining and simplifying because it was far too complex, and we weren't sure if we'd simplified it into… a literal vid about trains and planes and spaceships. We both always get nervous about premiering a vid, but we were, well... panicking, a little, about this one. We really wanted it to work, and we really weren't sure it was going to. So to everyone who got it -- thank you!
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