Monday, October 03, 2005
Video Salvation

As I write this, I'm sick -- not horribly sick, just a cold, but enough to make me feel decidedly craptacular. The good part of being sick, though, is that if you're lucky, you get to have visions. Sans delirium, my cold-induced visions haven't been particularly impressive -- just whatever can be mustered during the interminable sleep-twilight brought on by a dry mouth, sore throat, and the discomfort of post-nasal drip -- but they're mine, and I'm glad to have them.

Last night I spent a good hour or two watching with my mind's eye an image of a round, plump aircraft of some kind -- something like a zeppelin, but with propellers and wings -- struggle valiantly to achieve take-off, bouncing off the ground and thumping back down again, skidding along, lifting off the ground for an instant, landing on the ground again with a thud, and so on. It was heavy, leaden, completely lacking in buoyancy. (Yes, this is going somewhere... if you think this is incoherent, you should read what I wrote to post yesterday. Upon reading it over, even I couldn't figure out what the fuck I was talking about.)

That funny-looking blimp-plane thing was my film.

I'll admit it, I've been in editing hell for the last few days -- for all my cutting and re-cutting, as of last night I was despairing that I'd made a complete flop of my post-film-school filmmaking debut, and wasted everyone's time in the process. I could recognize my thought processes in the footage I saw in front of me, but I just couldn't see the film I thought I'd shot. The bits of pasted-together video seemed incapable of becoming more than the sum of their parts -- and it was my fault, my failure. It was thumping and scraping along, a leaden thing that would never make it off the ground.

This, of course, is a completely typical stage in the process; it's just that you never believe it when it happens to you. Everybody else suffers from a perfectly natural crisis of self-doubt; you, however, are a talentless failure and a hack and will never be loved by anyone ever again after they find out utterly mediocre you are. Still, the least you owe everyone is to at least finish the damn thing, so after spending a night or two sequestered with your hair shirt and your flogger, you go back and sit down and engage your failure once again.

Which is when everything starts to fall into place.

My self-appointed challenge tonight was to spend as much time as necessary getting this whole "time-remapping" thing figured out. Y'see, it's easy to take a film clip and change its speed, so long as that change is constant throughout the clip: you speed it up to 130%, or slow it down to 65%; modern technology renders such formerly-daunting tasks a matter of a few mouse clicks -- truly a piece of piss. Remapping, however, is a completely different animal -- it involves changing the speed of a clip back and forth within the clip -- say, starting out at 100%, then increasing to 130%, then dropping back to 65%, then finally coming back up to 100% to finish. Unlike a constant speed change, a variable speed change is a fucking pain the in the ass, and I've spend tens of fruitless hours trying to figure out how to make it work. It was genuinely getting to the point that I was about to say "fuck it" to the entire endeavor. But tonight, just as I was on the verge of frustrated tears, I got it. Oh, it still wants some tinkering, but essentially, I got it, and it changed the whole film. My little movie isn't about to go soaring with the proverbial eagles, but now I'm thinking it'll at least float along happily enough.

There's no denying that I'm rusty, though -- I'm like a musician who's got the theory down, but hasn't practiced in... well, about three years. I'm not unhappy with what I've got -- mostly I can only see flaws in my work, which is no more an accurate impression than only seeing the successful parts -- but it's frustrating in that it's still not demostrative of what I think I can do. It'll take a few more films before I get close to that, though. The most important thing is that I broke through my reluctance to do my own work. Hopefully it won't be another three years before I make another one.
10:34 PM ::
Amy :: permalink