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, and i could have said 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 20-30 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 scenery and creates a character so hateful it’s almost surreal. it seems she did her own makeup for the scene near the end of the movie when she’s a prostitute dying of tuberculosis, to make sure she looked 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 30 pages of brain-bending awesomeness, so 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 where 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 20-second observation. you can read about it 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. 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. it’ll happen.

THING 4: this is the first progress report video to be edited using sony vegas. the results are pretty much as i predicted — things are a little bit smoother, though nowhere near being “slick”. while there was a bit of a learning curve, i’ve managed to figure out how things work pretty quickly, without even relying on the interactive tutorials (which i hear are quite helpful). the program is a fair bit more intuitive than i first thought it was, once you know what you’re doing. 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 needlessly complicated. the upshot is, 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 fairly 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 really just needed to spend some time learning the mechanics of it all), i think the video editing crisis worked out alright 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 in the past, i wasn’t too fond of the video quality, though the sound seemed to hold up fine. WMV seems to be the best compromise. the sound and video quality is still not quite as high as the original uncompressed files were, but hosting and streaming a 10 GB video file is not exactly realistic. 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 1 GB…at most i’ve managed close to 2, and even then it’s dicey, takes the better part of a day to process, and often fails at some point in the uploading process. i’m not aware of any video hosting/embedding service that will handle 35 GB files. needless to say, being able to shave that all the way down to a little less than 600 MB while losing almost no noticeable quality is alright 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. rather, 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, and i appreciate it. there’s just a small handful of people who consistently fail to even say “thank you” or “hey, i got mail from you”, 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 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 chronically silent people anymore, and then i won’t be frustrated. better to share the stuff with people who do appreciate it. 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 at all. i already did that back in the day with record labels, and i’m not about to do it again.

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. in fact, i think it might 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 one 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 fuck, 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 actually gives me some wiggle room in that department.

the future looks bright for no-budget progress reports, 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 — older solo albums, and a few guys with dicks and papa ghostface cds). 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…

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