Day: October 26, 2010

She’s got Bette Davis eyes…but whose mouth does she have?

It’s video progress report time.

This one is the longest yet — just a hair shy of half an hour. I didn’t plan it that way. I guess I had a lot of stuff to ramble about. I could have said even more if I really let myself go. I feel like one of these days I’m going to end up making a video progress report that’s close to an hour long…though it’s probably best to keep them in the twenty-to-thirty-minute range so things don’t get too tedious.

This month’s re-contextualized public domain film is Of Human Bondage from 1934. Quite a different beast from Bride of the Gorilla. Bette Davis chews the scenery and creates a character so hateful it’s almost surreal. She did her own makeup for the scene near the end of the movie where she’s a prostitute dying of tuberculosis so she would look sufficiently grimy. Pretty daring stuff for the time. RKO Pictures made some interesting movies during their heyday.

A few things worth noting:

THING 1: The CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN-inspired collage book/magazine is about thirty pages of brain-bending awesomeness. You only get a bit of an idea of what’s there from the video. You kind of need to see it in person and put in some time to see all there is to see. That still has to be the best surprise I’ve ever received after sending music to a friend.

THING 2: While talking about that album, the “reissue”, and why it’s one of the more important things I’ve done, I could have mentioned that it also marks the exact point at which I made some sort of peace with more conventional song structures after spending quite a while treating repetitive song forms like they were a contagious disease I didn’t want to come near. By the time it occurred to me to mention that, I was already close to being finished editing the whole video and didn’t feel like throwing the whole thing into disarray for one more twenty-second observation. You can read about that on the album’s proper page over on the sidebar, anyway.

THING 3: The way I’m slouching while playing guitar near the end of the video kind of creates the illusion that I’ve got a beer gut, which is a little funny. I’m not nearly as lanky as I used to be, but I don’t think I’ve reached paunch territory yet. That won’t happen until Faith Hill chains me to a radiator and forces me to eat homemade pumpkin pie after every meal. That’s right! Faith Hill will feed me pumpkin pie under duress! You mark my words. Someday it’ll happen.

THING 4: This is the first progress report video I’ve edited using Sony Vegas. The results are pretty much as I predicted. Everything came out a little smoother, though the results still aren’t anything you could call “slick”. While there was a bit of a learning curve, I managed to figure out how things work pretty quick without relying on the interactive tutorials (which I hear are quite helpful). This program is a fair bit more intuitive than I first thought it was. I do have to say the way it’s set up for editing the audio volume of individual clips is a little strange to me, but it does the job. It just seems a little more complicated than it needs to be. While past progress report videos necessitated turning the volume up pretty high because I had to bring a lot of the levels down to match the quiet output of the Flip video camera, now I’m able to even things out at a higher volume without anything getting ugly. Ultimately, in spite of a brief period of frustration when it seemed like Vegas wouldn’t do half of what I wanted it to do, I think the video editing crisis worked out all right in the end.

THING 5: WMV still seems to be the best file format to use for these things. As I discovered a few weeks back, MOV files look pretty impressive for how small a file you end up with, but the sound suffers far too much from the compression. When I tried rendering things as MPEG or MPEG-2 files I wasn’t too fond of the video quality, though the sound seemed to hold up fine. WMV seems to be the best compromise. In this case the uncompressed AVI of the full video comes out to an ass-shaking 35 GB. WordPress starts to get grumpy when you try to upload anything larger than a single gigabyte. The most I’ve ever managed is close to two, and even then it’s dicey, it takes the better part of a day, and the upload process often fails at some point. I’m not aware of any video hosting/embedding service that will handle 35 GB files. So being able to shave that all the way down to a little less than 600 MB while losing almost no noticeable quality is fine by me (it’s not like my footage started out looking amazing). The old movie clips are the only things that really take a noticeable hit, especially in scenes where there’s a lot of black on the screen. What can you do?

THING 6: Just to be clear, the little intro song is not meant to make light of suicide at all. It’s a parody of moronic love songs that reach for pathos only to come away with clumps of rooster crap, hence the song’s title, “Every Slightly Angry Love Song Ever Written (in 43 Seconds or Less)”. It’ll show up on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE eventually.

THING 7: I should reiterate that I shouldn’t have said “most” people don’t acknowledge getting CDs from me. The majority of the people i send CDs to do acknowledge them, and I appreciate it. There’s just a small handful of people who consistently fail to respond in any way, and I guess that tends to stand out a bit. It gets a little frustrating when you go to the trouble of putting packages together, which involves a bit of work (cutting bubble wrap, copying and printing CDs, folding CD inserts, paying for the shipping, and writing letters by hand, to name a few things), but you don’t even get the slightest acknowledgment for it. Like I say in the video, it takes time and money to do this. So I think I just won’t send new CDs to those select few people anymore, and then I won’t be frustrated. Maybe that sounds a little passive-aggressive, but these days I’m not a big fan of spending my time and resources on people who for all I know don’t even bother listening to the music I send them. I already did that with record labels once upon a time. I’m not about to do it again now.

THING 8: I did get around to recording my take on “Wind Chimes Sing with Her” shortly after I finished editing the video, and I think it might fit nicely on the next album after all. It might even end up being one of my favourite things on the album, and it’s not even a song I wrote myself.

Eight things are probably more than “a few”, but never you mind.

All in all, I think this might be the best video progress report yet. You’ve got A Tender Moment with Elliott and the chopped-up-bits-of-old-movies thing both making their mark as permanent fixtures, cameos from Fuzzy Duck, Wenceslaus, and Nikolai (the latter now complete with subtitles), at least three or four little montages, some snippets of new and unreleased music, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Paris Hilton insult, and — as usual — a whole lot of me talking about random stuff. There are even proper end credits that aren’t insanely minimal for the first time ever, now that my video editing program gives me some wiggle room in that department.

The future looks bright for no-budget videos, I tells ya.

Elsewhere, the box of CDs at Dr. Disc was empty again…so I refilled it again, this time with a bit more variety (I threw in some reissued things). As of the early evening time, the box at Phog is also full of CDs once again. Who are all these people who keep taking the CDs? I have no idea. It’s long passed the point where things normally die down. They just keep going, and going, and going…