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[personal profile] flummery
The Escapade dvd has arrived! Okay, it arrived a month or two ago, but I've been working on this for a while, and I'm just plain slow.

I did not get to go to Escapade last year, so I’d been waiting for this for some time, and a good number of the vids on the dvd were completely new to me. I’d already seen a few in various shows at VividCon, but since they weren’t premieres, they weren’t included on the VividCon dvd, and I haven’t had a chance to re-watch most of them until now.

So, that said, here is my attempt at a review of the Escapade 2003 dvd. I’m a little hesitant to do this, for a number of reasons. The first? I feel like I often suck at putting into words my thoughts about a vid. “Hey, that was amazing! Because it was… amazing! And did you see that, uh, amazing part?” And, because it often takes me repeated viewings of a vid to understand it completely (while all around me people are going “Holy crap, did you get the metaphor in lyrics seven through twelve?” I’m going “pretty pictures! Color! Huh?”). And finally, of course, because there’s always the fear that if you are honestly critical, even those who say they want honest criticism are going to be hurt. And some of those people are amazing vidders who I respect more than you would believe, or are beginning vidders, who I would not want to deter from continuing on, and learning, and getting better, or even just saying, “She totally missed the point. She’s got a screw lose. Screw her." So, please take all of that into account when reading these.

Please also do not pay [livejournal.com profile] merryish to come after me with a lead pipe. She’s just been looking for an excuse.

This is, in case you hadn’t guessed, full of spoilers. Don’t read it if you don’t want to know.

Onwards to The Escapade DVD!

1. Introduction, by Jessica

Finally I get to see the damn introduction I kept hearing about! I had some ideas as to what it was, and I didn’t realize I’d been so thoroughly spoiled as to one of the main punch lines -- “I can’t believe I learned how to say ‘turn off your cell phones’ in Elvish”. I was thoroughly unspoiled as to the opening of it, however, and any Monty Pythonish traits. And yes. It’s possible that in this house, the doors are locked and the phones unplugged as soon as any LoTR dvd starts to play… I enjoyed this hugely, as I knew I would.

2. A Morality Play, Smallville, by Rache and Sandy

One I’ve seen before (VividCon, possibly?) and enjoyed. Light-hearted, fluffy, and fun. It’s a good joke, and uses some great images to pull off the gag. It’s short, and doesn’t wear out its welcome. I’m not sure what the moral of this story was, however. But I think it involved choosing the city, next time *g*.

3. Crazy Baby, Stargate, by Carol S.

This Stargate vid, unlike most, was entirely movie based. First off, I’m glad that she stuck with just the movie. Mixing clips between the show and the movie does not work for me in general, and while I’d be unlikely to ever make a movie SG vid (it’s all about the series, for me), it was interesting to see someone else tackle the task.

There were a number of reasons this vid didn’t work for me as much as I would have hoped. A big, and admittedly fairly personal reason was song choice. I’m not particularly fond of Joan Osborne, and felt that her tone of voice, and the tone of the song, was somewhat too shrill and grating for me to properly feel the darkness that I associate with the character of movie Jack, and the scenes being presented.

The next problem I have, however, is where the vid goes, or rather, doesn’t go. It starts off with a fairly close match up between the lyrics and what we’re seeing on the screen. Jack’s desperate frame of mind, his depression over Charlie, his choice to go back to take the mission for the Air Force in part because of his troubles with Sara, are all fairly well matched up, and explicitly laid out.

The next section, taking place in the SGC, and concerning Jack’s lack of communication with those around him, is a little shakier, but I’m still with the vid. The third section, set on Abydos, and having to do with Jack’s interaction with his team members, and the inhabitants of Abydos, loses me. The vid ends too abruptly. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from it. I believe it’s meant to end on a disquieting note, with Jack still at odds with those around him, and unsure about what steps to take regarding the mission he’s been given -- but given that we’re not shown any progression, and the abrupt ending, and how quickly his team and Skaara are introduced, and then vanish, all in the third act... it’s hard to make a connection to what’s happening. I think the length of the song may have limited the vidder in what she was trying to convey, and it left me feeling like the vid had more to say.

4. Hornblower, Hornblower, by Killa

This is a gorgeous instrumental vid, and manages to be a narrative vid without a single lyric. Killa has taken three different pieces by Clandestine and knitted them together into a single piece. I had to be told this, I admit; I would never have even caught where she did the editing. The intro section is a beautiful buildup -- here are the characters, here is their ship, here is their situation. It starts off as a grand adventure, and then segues (brilliantly) into war. My favorite chunk is the sneaky darkness in the middle as they board the ship. It's amazing how she managed to fit the music to make it seem like an actual voice of events.

5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Multifandom, Diana Williams

So I just don't like this one, I'll admit it. I’ve been trying to figure out if I just have no sense of humor, or what. I know it's meant humorously, but the song came off to me as just sleazy. Maybe if the vidder had gotten in and out with the joke a little quicker… I'm not sure. But by the 17th rendition of “girls” my teeth were on edge. I wasn't seeing the humor, I was just sort of skeeved out. It was the song that did this one in for me.

6. A Swim in the Ocean, Stargate, by Kelpie

This starts out so strong that I was really into it… and then it lost me, fast and hard. It took several viewings to realize the format she’d put in place here, but once I had it, it still wasn’t strong enough, and this is a pity, because this is a vid that really was going places. It has a good, strong piece of music, that built nicely. The opening, with Jack, Daniel, and Sam preparing for their day, really kicks it into gear and gets it moving (although it would have been nice to see Teal’c included more in this section, I can see how he could be difficult footage to find).

She’s cut the rest of the vid into sections – a chunk about Sam, a chunk about Daniel, a chunk about Teal’c. She has each of the three having a hard day, having to fight a battle, getting hurt, being comforted. In between, there are bridges that have everyone. Jack has no particular section to himself, but he’s well represented in the bridges. I think I didn't catch that she'd done a section for each of these three at first because these sections are actually the refrains, while the group chunks are on the main lyrics. The randomness of the scenes in between these sections, though, lost me. I couldn't follow what was going on. There was too much literal matching of shots to lyrics, and in some cases, the scenes, when put in context, just didn't match those lyrics at all.

In the end, this had a strong strong start, but just left me in a very confused place.

7. Nightmares Beneath the Sea, Angel, Luminosity

If you ask Margie how to spot a Luminosity vid, she will tell you, “brilliant special effects.” And she’s absolutely right. It was easy enough to spot Lum’s vid in the VividCon Challenge show this year. I would add to that, however, “complexity.” This vid isn’t particularly big on special effects, but it was complex enough that I felt like I should be taking notes. Or possibly attending a seminar. I say that as a huge fan of Angel, who was very familiar with the storyline represented in this vid. This was not a vid I was going to get on the first pass, or the twelfth, or you know. For a while, yet. This vid worked for me more on a purely mood visual level. This is why I love vid dvds. Because when you’ve got an amazingly complex piece of work going, you can sit there all damn night with the reverse button. And, since it’s amazingly put together, you’re not going to get bored rewatching, and you can get more out of it with each pass. The amazing visuals and and the flow of the vid keep you watching. I loved the dinner scene, and the bridge/fight scene. It's hard to pick out particular scenes, though, with that much going on.

8. Loser, Magnificent 7, by Taselby

I’m presented with several obstacles to understanding this vid -- the biggest one being that I’ve never seen a single episode of Mag7. I'm sure this is a standard complaint for anyone who is watching a vid of a show they've never seen, and more often than not, the vid can overcome the watcher's ignorance. But in the case of this particular show, I admit that I just can't seem to visually clue in, a lot of the time. With the exception of Eric Close, almost all the male leads look alike to me. I find them to be disturbingly similar between the hats and the dusters and the color scheme of almost entirely reds and browns. So right off the bat, I felt sort of hindered going in.

Next, I have to admit, I’m not big on seeing chunks of episodes included before the beginning of a vid. That chunk of exposition had really better earn its keep, in some way. After all, this is a music vid, and I’d hope to be presented with the story within the vid itself, and not a preface to the vid. Taselby starts this vid without about 30 seconds from an episode of the vid, presumably presenting us with the main player(s) of the vid: Ezra, and an older man, and a main key to understanding the vid -- a leather bag. I’ve been given these items to take with me into the vid, and indeed, they do show up several times over. By the time the vid is over, I still didn't know what the bag is, or what it's meant to represent, and I was frustrated. The lyrics are fairly repetitive, so the viewer relies more on the visuals – and the visuals just didn't mean that much to me. I suspect that many of them may have been context dependent. And again, I felt like there was just too much brown and red and grey, and I couldn't focus on individuals, or actions, to get a grip on what was happening. With the exception of the bridge, there was not a lot to break up and distinguish the scenes.

The vid did end well though, with a nicely chosen grim shot.

9. Out of My Mind, Stargate, by Carol S.

This was an interesting story. I thought for the most part, it was well put together… but it didn't quite hook me completely, and I think that's because it seemed to bounce around a lot in terms of the sequences. I couldn't find a reason for much of the ordering of the vid, a framing system, or a reason why certain scenes were presented when they were.

Lately, I've also seen a lot of vidders using an effect that's used several times in this vid -- a fast zoom in on a face, or scene, and then zoom out to the next scene. While I've seen this used effectively, here it jarred me badly when it happened. It may be that this was what Carol was going for, to slap her audience around a bit.

And, this is going to be an extreme nitpick, but this is the second vid where I’ve seen a vidder use the clip of Jack, sitting and looking through files for a replacement for Daniel. While I understand that it’s the context they’re going for, all I can see when I watch the clip is… Teal’c, with his enormous tray full of fruit. It completely eclipses any emotion I might get out of the scene, and I have to wonder what viewers who aren’t knowledgeable about SG are taking away from that shot.

10. I Kissed a Girl, Multifandom, by Smut Cutter

Okay, so this one was pretty damn fun. I liked the opening setup, and I was seriously impressed by some of the effects that were used at the very beginning to indicate electricity around the computer. Not to mention, it must have been a bitch and a half, putting scenes inside scenes as was done in spots during this vid.It is, of course, the reaction shots that make this vid (and sometimes the choice of kisses), and the fact that the vidder knows perfectly well that she’s just playing to people who will get the joke.

The end of the vid felt a little weak to me (mainly the choice of the Sentinel clip to end on), considering the beautiful set up and beginning, but this was partly made up for by the Sugar Plum Sith Lord credits.

11. My Beautiful Reward, Firefly, by Gwyneth Rhys

I had seen this one previously -- in fact, I came close to putting it into the Narrative Show at VividCon this year, for the rather lovely simple story it was telling. I hesitated, because I couldn’t be sure how context dependent it was for someone who had never seen the show. It goes along nicely -- These are the things I thought I desired; I thought I wanted money, I thought I wanted the girl, I kept searching for my treasure, turns out I had it all along in the form of my ship, and the family on it. It’s a lovely, slow paced vid.

It had a few weak spots -- I wasn't sure about the use of torture for "valley floor" although I took it to mean a low point in his life. Also, Inara showing up during the section of the vid where the search still appears to be for material goods was a little confusing -- as though a clip from her section had been slightly misplaced, a little too soon in the vid. It would have felt stronger if her chunk of the story had started without a reference to her as a reward earlier on. I wanted a slightly stronger delineation of sections, I think.

The show itself provided some beautiful visuals that were used along the way -- the two escape pods swinging away from the ship, and the ship itself flying, were used at nice points in the music that helped give the vid a languid feel overall.

12. Bibbidy-Bobbity-Boo, Harry Potter, by Thalia

This mainly seems to have been an exercise is matching music to certain visual cues. I’m guessing the vidder was just trying to go for cute, which is fine, as far as it goes, but there wasn’t much else to get out of it, and it wasn’t all that strong for what it was trying to convey. There was no story, or even much of a general theme being presented. On the other hand, it got in and out fast, and wasn’t some long drawn out sequence, so you didn’t have time to get too annoyed or bored, and it provided some mild amusement for me.

There was also a jerkiness to this vid -- I wasn't sure if it was intentional, or a result of the source, and given that I couldn't tell, I don't think it worked out.

This may have been a stronger vid for HP fans, which I’ll admit I am not.

13. Someone You Might Have Been, Dead Zone, by Lynn & Sandy

Why yes, I do love The Dead Zone, and yes, I do love this vid. I’ve seen this one a number of times already, in fact. This is a gorgeous vid, and hopefully one that will help suck in a much needed fan base for a show that seems to be slipping under the radar of most folks. (I could write an entire book on how much I don't understand where the fandom is for this show).

The show itself provides footage out the wazoo, for those of you who are wondering about the effects in this vid. Amazing, incredible shots, full of color and details and, a lot of the time, effects. The vidders here are presenting much of the story of the show, and telling you about the character himself. His life has been taken from him. He is constantly living the lives of others, seeing what might have been, knowing exactly what it is he has lost. There are some great shots in here -- shots exchanging Johnny and Walt, focusing on Sarah, showing how essential she is to what Johnny was all about.

The sense of isolation and loss conveyed in this vid was palpable. A lot of the scenes are of Johnny alone, lost, confused, in places that seem cold or desolate or hidden in some way. He's surrounded by death and loss, and just on the other side of that, he can see a happy life that was almost his. There's a beautiful use of a kiss that should make him happy, while he's actually crying, because he knows he can't hold on to this moment.

The parts where it felt a little weaker for me? Despite the fact that the scenes are beautiful, Johnny and the shaman together felt out of place. I believe this was probably a scene that was used because the character of Johnny and the shaman are basically carrying out the same roles, each in their own time. Despite this, it felt like this scene took Johnny somewhat away from the core of the vid -- his wanting to reconnect with what should have been his life and family. The other shot that didn't quite do it for me was the standoff outside (not inside) the bank with the police -- the context didn't work for me. And, one more -- the small, half crooked smile at almost the beginning of the vid, when Johnny is amongst a crowd, seems out of place, because it gives him a more confident, self assured feel, when much of the vid is about how lost he feels.

There's a fantastic use of the opening instrumental to give you the happiness that was his life, before things became bleak.

14. Next to You, The Police, by Sockii

I’m not really sure what to say about this one. I was fairly surprised – by what it didn’t do, which was to tell a story of any kind. While I’ve seen other vids about singers & bands, most of them seemed to be presented more in the form of an actual tale. Not always one I cared about all that much, but there was always a definite history of events concerning the members, or something of significance being conveyed. If there was a story here, I missed it. This seemed more just a selection of clips from… a documentary? Footage of the band on the road clowning around? I honestly couldn’t tell if this was one source, or many. Perhaps part of the problem here was that other vids about bands that I’ve seen have had movies to work with – this was restricted to footage of the actual band, which I can see might be extremely limiting.

If it was meant in a lighthearted way, then I guess I can see that, but for someone like me, coming at the vid cold, with very little knowledge (okay, complete ignorance) about this band, I’m not leaving the vid with anything more than I entered.

15. Something to Talk about, Stargate, by Carol S.

The song has been used to death, but not quite this way before *g*. She got in and made her joke, and made me laugh, even as I was going "Noooooooooooooo….." so it pretty much worked for me.

God almighty, talk about your frigging incoherent ravings. Please excuse Seah's lack of vocabulary in the previous vid reviews. She was trying to say: "weren't those vids amazing?"

The next half of this review will occur... at some point in time. Yeah.
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