Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Sacrilegious Scorn + Vampire Hunter D

Video Editing: 3 music videos - a retrospective (Part 2 of 3)

--- Project Info ---
Track Title: The Sacrilegious Scorn
Artist: Dimmu Borgir
Film: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2001)
Completion Date: Dec 2007


This was my second major video editing project and this time I was a lot more ambitious. First off, I actually did almost all of the planning before even starting the editing as I knew exactly what I wanted to set out to do.

I had tried live action previously so this time I wanted to use an animated film to see how it would differ. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was ideal for me as it has been one of my favourite animated films since seeing it years ago and I knew the film pretty well - which helps considerably when you come to plan which sequences and shots you want to use.

The vampire imagery of the film went well with Dimmu Borgir's 'The Sacrilegious Scorn', a black metal song tinged with gothic and melodic elements. There were a couple of songs I could have used from their album In Sorte Diaboli, but I chose this one as there were many bits in the song that I could play with in regards to editing as well as distinct shifts in its structure and mood.
(note: At the time I also picked the song because at the time there was no official music video for it. A few months later the official video did come out as Dimmu Borgir decided to release the song as a single. Why not peep that video on youtube for a comparison? ;) )

Story-wise, half way through the planning stage I had an epiphany.
I had always wanted to include the love story between the characters of Meier Link (the main vampire of the film) and Charlotte (the 'kidnapped' girl) to some degree - although this was only really a subplot of the film.
The main character, simply called 'D' takes up most of the screen time and the majority of the set pieces include him to some degree. Currently, on Youtube they are countless anime music videos and many of Vampire Hunter D. This would usually have put me off, but at the same time I was pretty sold on using the film.
And then it came to me...
'What if...' I said to myself, 'this video focused on just Meier Link and Charlotte... and D wasn't even in it at all...!'
This would serve me in two ways. Firstly, to distinguish my videos from ALL the other Vampire Hunter D videos out there by not showing scenes of D at all; and secondly, it would allow me to take the scenes with Meier Link and Charlotte and use them to craft my own narrative that differs from what actually happens in the film.

So there you have it - the story of Meier Link and Charlotte presented in the video is pretty different from the one in the movie - those who have seen the film previously will definitely notice this.
I also had the additional idea of having the character of Gilbert bookending their story as if to make out that the whole thing is a drug induced dream that progressively gets wilder - another concept that is completely different to the film.

Anyway, here are a few notes on key bits of the video that are of interest:

- The bats flying in at the intro - these are actually different scenes from the movie stuck together in a single sequence - its regrettable that the resolution drops and results in some 'blocky' bats when it gets particularly hectic but that was unavoidable. The bat noise was taken from a particular scene in the movie and lengthened to cover the whole sequence.

- Meier Link baring his teeth to 'aah' out of the moon. (Note: with the exception of the bats at the very beginning all sounds in the video exist in the original Dimmu Borgir song).

- The first bookend featuring Gilbert getting injected as he "enters" the dream. It works well with music and is re-arranged interestingly from the original context of the movie.

- The heavy drums coming in with the carriage thundering on was a good combination I think. It sets the tone for Meier Link's arrival. Similarly, the cuts to him laying dormant inside and the beat hitting of the crosses being crushed and water freezing was particularly effective.

- Conversely, the first melodic part of the song heralds the onscreen arrival of Charlotte, as Meier Link comes to get her.

- The choral part coming in when Charlotte is in front of the mirror - introducing the love story element between the two. I like the lingering shots of them here. In the film this an indication of their mutual love. In the context of my video it can be seen as Meier's vampire seduction of Charlotte.

- The carriage driving away marking the 'abduction' of Charlotte. Fits perfectly with the music - as does the subsequent sequence involving the carriage driving up to the castle and into its grounds.

- Meier Link speaks! With animation, at times the heads are static and just the mouth is animated to make the character speak. With clever cutting and the repetition of certain frames, I was able to make Meier Link match the voice speaking on the track.

- The zoom through the mirror on beat.

- The piano part coming in as Charlotte starts to ascend the stairs - also Meier baring his fangs (all on the original track).

- Cutting away to the flowers on the coffin (taken from the ending of the movie) when Charlotte is being bitten - symbolising death.

- Gilbert crying out - hitting that scream but also to remind the viewers we are still in his 'dream'.

- With the arrival of Carmilla at the end (representing the downfall of Charlotte) I wanted lots of images of vampires and teeth cutting in as the 'dream' reaches its pitch.

- Carmilla opening her eyes on beat.

- The 'talking' trick is repeated here for the old man.

- Carmilla crawling towards the viewer and the showing Gilbert's frozen eyes at the end finishes the video abruptly after the climax. The limp hand holding the syringe falling to the floor was always the way I wanted to finish the video since I first thought of using Gilbert as the bookend. Very effective as a final image.

On the whole an improvement on the last video.
Although the preparation did take a long time, I am pleased with the end result - particularly with being able to craft my own narrative from the available material.

Here is the video for your viewing pleasure:

Coming next:

The Truth of Edge + Vexille
Video Editing: 3 music videos - a retrospective (Part 3 of 3)

Friday, 19 June 2009

--- As I Destruct + Ultraviolet ---

Video Editing: 3 music videos - a retrospective (Part 1 of 3)

--- Project Info ---
Track Title: As I Destruct
Artist: Threat Signal
Film: Ultraviolet (2006)
Completion Date: July 2007


My first go at video editing proper. The project started out after I watched the film Ultraviolet, directed by Kurt Wimmer (of Equilibrium fame) and starring Milla Jovovich, and was kind of annoyed at how although visually very striking, the film was let down by hammy acting, underdeveloped plot structure and characters and an over reliance on CG.

Although the film was released in the UK, not many people know about it due to its limited success. So I had an idea of 'what if I could make a music video using Ultraviolet and make it look Ultra-cool'? After all, the action scenes were all there - I could just remove them from the context of the film and create my own storyline.
So that was the basic premise: for people to watch it and go "wow- that film looks cool, I wanna check it out", even though the actual film was not.

Threat Signal are a small metalcore band from the US and I knew that I wanted to use one of their tracks for this video due to their songs being both hard and melodically epic at the same time. I picked As I Destruct as I already had in mind which scenes would go with which parts of the song - such as the zoom and slice intro, the getting dressed scene and the guitar solo bullet dodging scene.
The rest of it, I pretty much did as I went along after importing many scenes into iMovie, many of which I didn't end up using.

There are some bits of the video that are still scrappy but on the whole I am very pleased with the result as it was my first effort and I managed to communicate many of my ideas well. The video has over 70,000 views on youtube (at time of writing this) which probably has to do with Threat Signal being a small band and anyone looking for videos on them will most likely run into this.

Some of my favourite bits are:

- The zoom onto the roof top at the very beginning and the guard falling on beat.

- The getting dressed scene soon after that. Sets the tone well and shows that Milla means business.

- The first fight scene where she is smashing the guard's armour - interesting because the actual sound from the film is present here and you can hear the smashing sound at times.

- The injecting and screaming scene - although these are actually two different scenes in the movie (oh the wonder of editing...)

- The bike sliding on the lyric '...tiiiiiime to gooooooo...' and the following rooftop shooting scene. My favourite shot in the entire movie is of Milla standing on the roof and 'gun-fu' shooting the guard below her.

- The bullet dodging guitar solo scene. Fits so well with the music - although the sequence did need considerable editing to make it so. If I could change anything about this scene however, I would make a smoother transition into the beginning of the scene.

- The body scan scene with cut-aways - I dont know quite why but the 'triumphant' feeling always gets me here.

So on the whole I am happy with the end result as I achieved what I set out to do - create a video that makes a not so cool film into one that looks very cool.
I'm also proud of the fact that I managed to create a slightly different narrative in my video than that of the film. Something which is returned to in my later videos.

Here is the video below:

Coming next:

The Sacrilegious Scorn + Vampire Hunter D
Video Editing: 3 music videos - a retrospective (Part 2 of 3)

Video Editing: 3 music videos - a retrospective

Last week, I completed work on my third video editing music video project.
'What in the hell is one of thems?' - I hear you clamour out in want of an explanation.

Well, settle down and let me tell you...

I love music.
I love films.
Music videos are kind of cool, especially the ones which successfully manage to convey the passion and emotion of the music; Ones that tell a story and can communicate themes and ideas without having to expressing them in words.

I've always loved the idea of telling a story to music and since I usually lack the resources and patience to film things myself, what better way to make a music video that to edit an existing work?

So with that idea in mind, I set about attempting to make a music video using a 700MB .avi DVDrip file of a film, an .mp3 and iMovie HD.

It turns out there are actually hundreds, if not thousands of these kind of (shudder) 'fan made' music videos out there on youtube. I have watched a few but grew bored and frustrated with the majority of them.
Many of these were simply just made up of whole scenes or sequences from the film cut together with no thought to story, coherence, musicality, etc...

So whenever I set out to edit a video I keep in mind the following:

1) Does the chosen music marry itself to the chosen film? Not just in terms of style but also thematically - I also tend to pick music and imagery that builds and packs an emotional punch.

Choice of film - I try to use films that aren't too well known, but also not so obscure so that people can never track the original down. Again, for me, the film has to have parts that move me to a certain degree or feature striking imagery that I think will go well to music.
Personally, I don't think that the choice of film matters as much as the choice of music for the simple reason that the film footage is going to be edited and so you can mould it largely to your liking. A good example of this is my first video of Ultraviolet. But more on that later.

Choice of music - More important than choice of film in my opinion, for the simple reason that the music is not edited.
Therefore, it already has its own emotional beats, lulls and climaxes and so on, and it is up to me to fit the images to the music in a pleasing way.

2) What story do i want to tell? A rookie error in making a video is to just pick the 'best bits' of the film, or as they are known in the industry: the 'money shots'.
Always at the forefront of my mind is the importance to tell a coherent story, one whose emotional beats are inextricably tied to the music and not just a random collage of images taken from the film because they 'look cool'.
William Goldman says that in film-making you must "kill your babies" - in other words the spine of the story you are telling is paramount. In this case, even if you really want to put something into the video (for example a cool action sequence), if it doesn't make sense in terms of the overall story you want to tell - you have to get rid of it - you have to kill your baby...

For each of the 3 video editing projects i have undertaken so far, I have approached them with slightly different aims in mind.

Here are the three projects in order of completion with some notes on each, as well as a link to the video itself. I will be writing about each in a different post.

1) As I Destruct + Ultraviolet

2) The Sacrilegious Scorn + Vampire Hunter D

3) The Truth of Edge + Vexille

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Its been a long time coming...

Yes it has been - but I've finally gotten around to starting it.

So this is the grand unveiling of Kinsta presents... a place where I can talk about my ongoing and recently completed projects.

The purpose?

Hopefully, to keep interested parties updated on forthcoming projects as well as breaking down some of my finished items with an explanation of the hows and whys and wherefores. You may be enlightened - you never know.

Mainly, however, this is for me. To get my thoughts out of my head and into writing. A central location for my creative output other than my cerebral cortex. The confines of this bubbling vat can be somewhat claustrophobic at times and I need room to vent.

Anyway, enough of this babble. Move on...