My hope to get all that video-related business taken care of by the end of the week was pretty optimistic — and, as I’m realizing now, not very realistic. I think I underestimated how much work was involved. Or maybe I wanted to believe the editing process would be a little more straightforward than I knew it was really going to be. Bouncing back and forth between two different computers doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to save files on one flash drive or another on my MacBook, only to transfer those files to the external hard drive plugged into the crusty old Acer laptop so I can work with them in Sony Vegas.
It’s a little complicated. But it’s fun. I’ve been eating, drinking, sleeping, and even dreaming this homemade documentary over the last week or so. There’s no turning back now.
I’m enjoying the process of piecing things together. There’s a lot of narration, because there’s a lot that needs to be said, but I’m trying to take a “show don’t tell” approach as much as I can. For example, I could talk for a long time about how I felt I came into my own as a guitarist and found a way to speak through the instrument for the first time when I was an angry teenager with a short-lived band. I think it’s more effective to drop a fiery guitar solo from a live performance in the appropriate place and let the music do the talking.
There are some things I can’t touch on if I want a final assembly that’s less than ten hours long. But that’s what the forthcoming album-specific blog post is for. This film — if I can call it that — is more about putting the album in its proper context within the full arc of my artistic life and stuffing in as much behind-the-scenes footage as I can while I’m at it.
Working with a voiceover track instead of speaking to the camera has been a new experience for me. I’m used to treating public domain film content in a very specific way, using it to break up the rhythm of my monologue while commenting on what’s being said in an absurd or irreverent way. Now it’s become a different tool, serving as a visual counterpart to the words when I don’t have appropriate footage of my own to lean on or I want to mix things up a little. I’ve never been so thankful for the existence of the Internet Archive and the abundance of material that’s fallen into the public domain for one reason or another.
I had a bit of a scare the other day when I was trying to stitch a few segments together with Steeper. I kept getting all these messages telling me the program couldn’t find something called “delete.exe”, and everything went wonky on me. “Great,” I thought. “I find a simple solution to a problem, and now I have to find a work-around for the solution itself.”
After a number of failed attempts to join four or five files, I took a look at the different elements of Steeper I downloaded. There was something I’d forgotten to click on. It was “delete.exe” — the part of the program that allows you to overwrite old joined files. I downloaded it, tried again, and the issue was resolved.
Note to self: when a program comes in a few different downloadable parts/executions, it might be a good idea to grab all of them before trying to run the thing.
Being forced to break everything into chapters has been even more of a blessing than I thought it was. Making a change or fixing a rough edit is much easier when you’re dealing with smaller sections as opposed to one big chunk. It’s much less overwhelming when you don’t see the whole pile of work in front of you. And it helps to maintain a sense of structure, which was something I was concerned about having never done anything on this scale before.
I’ve got about an hour of footage assembled now, and I’m still far from finished. I’m getting there, though. Every day I either get another segment finished or I put a good dent in one or two of them. Today I should be able to finish three. That feels pretty good.