This past summer at the Fan Studies Network Conference held at the University of East Anglia, I had the pleasure of meeting and talking vidding a bit with Tisha Turk – a conversation that, once again, made me long to be able to make sense of my iMovie app. I’ve watched from afar as video essay after brilliant video essay has made art of analysis, each one intensifying my desire to make… something. Anything – vid, essay, whatever. But every time I opened iMovie, it seemed incomprehensible.
For which I have no words; or rather, I do – all the words, in fact – but for the purposes of this post, suffice it to say that my desire to vid came roaring back to life with rich imagery that seemed to beg for all kinds of reworking (and, I mean, it has been reworked; just not by me). And that desire rekindled an old one, to vid something to the Siouxsie and the Banshees song, “Face to Face,” used somewhat less-than-memorably in Tim Burton’s 1992 Batman Returns. I’d actually tried it once, kind of, during the halcyon days of my X-Files obsession, meticulously constructing a slideshow centered on Mulder and Krycek that, fortunately, has been lost to time.
So there I am, show in one hand, song in the other, and a burning need to do something with them. A lovely friend, in fact, did do something with them just for me, the product of which went a long way towards scratching my itch. In the meantime, however, I had already started futzing with iMovie, determined this time to do the thing. And I did, in fact, finally figure out how to work iMovie, with the help of a Lynda.com tutorial and more time spent on it than I can actually afford.
But the thing was, all of this had really begun back in the early 80s when, as a kid living in Hong Kong – where we got, if we were lucky, movies on TV from as recently as the mid-1970s – I saw/became obsessed with Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise. Specifically, I became obsessed with editor Paul Hirsch’s flair for not just cutting on the beat, but matching music to image in such a way that the one seemed to visually/aurally reflect the other, in the end credits sequence of the film (which is completely and utterly absent from the Internet, dammit – ETA: I put up a bit here). It was that kind of vid that I wanted to make – one that was cut precisely to the beat, that matched image to sound in the same way; which is to say, a vid that was finally going to satisfy a 30+ year Artistic Vision just waiting to be realized.
And, frankly, iMovie is not cut out for this. It’s not bad, but it’s also not precise – or, at least, not precise enough. One tweak here nudges everything else there, in an never-ending cycle of perfectionist hell, which led me to the trial version of Final Cut Pro. Experienced editors seem to have mixed opinions about FCP (ranging from “it’s great!” to “it’s iMovie Pro”), but it was perfect for my purposes. Similar enough to iMovie that I could make the transition with barely a week’s worth of experience under my belt, and precise enough that I could tweak images to sound to my heart’s content. And throughout the process of putting it together, I began to find that it was uniquely satisfying for a rabid perfectionist like myself; like, it channeled every last need I have to get. it. just. right.
The result – or, Result Part 1 – was this, uploaded to YouTube to very little fanfare but much personal satisfaction.
(Accidentally deleted this video – whoops)
And it was almost exactly what I wanted it to be. BUT. Not only did I spell “Siouxsie” wrong in the end title thing (think perfectionist and imagine the inner irritation), but there were a small handful of shots and beats that weren’t quite working for me. So today, after I finished grading and editing and drafting (and laundry and emptying the dishwasher, etc.), I tried once more to get it right, and here’s the final version.
I have no great lessons to pass along or anything. And it’s still not perfect (the ‘dream’ thing at just past the halfway point isn’t quite right, and I’ve never been entirely sold on the ‘mouth to mouth’ thing at the beginning…). But… JFC this is fun. I have another vid percolating in my head, and I keep playing with essay ideas… I guess the takeaway is really just, you know, if I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s possible to start from nothing and make something beautiful. Well. Beautiful to me. 🙂