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Saturday, 27 November - link

Thanksgiving 2K4

I have three final presentations to make at school next week; two of them involve videos. I gotta edit down a total of about seven hours of raw footage on two separate subjects into two separate coherent 5-10 minute shorts: one fiction, one documentary. Whee!

I do love this work, or else I wouldn't have snuck a third video project into this weekend: I had planned to tape this holiday to have a record of my Mother's recipe for Thanksgiving eats. When she broke her wrist, I had to cook for my family; fortunately my Uncle was there to be head chef, allowing me a hand free to do some taping. Then, four hours of editing later, I end up with this ten minute short film about this occasion. Keywords: Thanksgiving, Nebraska, Turkey, rural/urban, ecumenical, fracture, stuffing.

The more time you have to edit, the shorter and tighter you can make the draft. Too many other assignments looming to spend more time on this now. I'm just glad to get something produced quickly - better to air some of my favorite bits now, rather than letting the footage mold while I carry the "should edit something together outta that" in my head. My family seemed to enjoy it! They probably got most of the jokes.

Thanksgiving 2K4 vid
Thanksgiving 2K4 - ten minutes - 77 megabyte Quicktime

Briefly, my self-crit: there's some obvious technical problems here - a few of the shots are wildly over-exposed or badly backlit. Some effects compensation on the latter only begins the healing. Better camera work would be best - have to figure out how to stay on top of my camera technique while I'm running and gunning.

The largest problem in this video - inconsistent or inaudible sound. Uncle Jim is missed for too much of that long conversation in the kitchen. Subtitles are an incomplete solution. Ideally I would get a mic attached to my camera that could pick up sound a few meters in front of it - drawing focused sound from forefront subjects.

You can see my setup in the photos Robin took during my recent interview with Doug. I have a small reasonable mic - I just today discovered that I can attach it to my camera! Uh, duh - never noticed that before, or forgot. Gonna experiment with using that as my primary mic in the future!

There's some music spread throughout - some is reused from other recent films (a permissible sin, perhaps, considering the time constraints). But then there are brief moments of silence as titles play - maybe some kind of underlying track could be comforting, or at least continuing room tone during those moments.

As for content, the movie could use some tightening. Some sections run long. If the audience is family members, the patience level is probably high enough to permit this cut. But for a general audience more introductions and explanations might be necessary. For example, who are these characters? Some names or relations might be useful; again, for a broader audience.

At least any broader audience that watches this film through will come away with a simply smashing recipe for stuffing.

In terms of filmic influences here,les blank definitely Les Blank's "Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers" which I finally saw after years of hunting - there was a special screening at USC for their 75th anniversary, and I got a chance to meet Blank and hear him speak about his craft. I asked him about how you can get your camera so close to food and to life and to people's details and keep the trust up and he said, basically, you've got to establish and keep good relationships. And that takes time! He said.

Blank's "Garlic" reflects something deeply earthy and wholesome, celebrating life and taste and passion across culture and language. It has a sun-dappled optimism, treating the quotidian to a depth of inquiry and exploration meant to reflect accessible joy. It was touching and exhilarating.

Posted on 27 November 2004 : 22:40 (TrackBack)
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Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.