Andromeda Streak--Fanish JMTorres
Poison
Closet
Weirds
Me
Out

American Tune--Rhade American Tune
song by Paul Simon
fandom: Andromeda, property of Tribune
vid by Juliette Torres -- juliette_torres@yahoo.com
format: Quicktime movie, 12.5 MB (zipped)
description: "Every man is the hero of his own story, even Gaheris Rhade." ~Dylan Hunt, "The Unconquerable Man."

But these go up to eleven.1
Hardware:
VCR (four head, mono, NTSC, JVC)
Digital Camcorder (Sony DCR-TRV110 NTSC)
Macintosh G4 Powerbook (18.6GB drive, 256MB RAM, DVD drive)
Assorted RCA, firewire cables

Software:
Quicktime 5.0 Pro
iTunes
iMovie
MP3Rage

Source:
American Tune, by Paul Simon
Andromeda "The Unconquerable Man" (VHS-->d8-->dv)

Compression:
Video: H.263, 352x264, 15fps, key frame every 60 frames, quality 65%
Audio: MP3, stereo, 64kps/VBR

Wizardry:
Video--I did next to nil to this footage. Not even the fades are mine, they're native to the source. I did, however, once again abuse the frame rate change, and I feel like I ought to join Frame Rate Changers Anonymous for that...

Audio--I ripped the mp3 from the CD myself, and I didn't do anything funky, so it should have been plenty loud enough, right? Right? Wrong. First off, it's Paul Simon, so it's soft to begin with, and secondly, the CD's not recent. CDs have gotten louder over the years, and my copy of There Goes Rhymin' Simon is just not with the times. This is not something I noticed as a problem myself, as I only had to up my volume from minimum to one-quarter to hear the song, but ljheadjcalanthe informed me that he could only barely hear the song at maximum volume on his headphones when his house was completely silent. You know why? ljheadjcalanthe has a PC. Probably a lot of you do. I have a Mac. You know what I found out when I did some research on the matter?

Macs play sound louder than PCs. Inherently.2

Which is all very well and good for me but doesn't do a hell of a lot for you guys, so I hunted around for a way to raise the native volume of an MP3. What I found was this: MP3Rage. (Don't believe the System Requirements there; if you read the blurb you'll see it runs fine on OS9 as well as OSX.) It does two things (that are salient here): It allows you to change the ID3 tags on an mp3 to specify it should be played at 100% over its native volume, and it allows you to export the mp3 to .aif or .wav at the higher volume. I did this twice, so the soundtrack now plays at about 4x the original volume. ljheadjcalanthe can hear it just fine now; I hurt my eardrums and built up about half an inch of earwax.

It's astounding, time is fleeting, madness takes its toll.3
It's been less than a week from conception to release of this vid. I did the first full draft in under twelve real hours, both capturing clips and cutting them together, with some sleep and class in the middle. And then there was that whole second draft of the vid to this other song... (I decided I liked version one better. But you can see a little snippet of version two here: http://jmtorres.dreamhosters.com/withersnip.mov.zip. It's rough, but I rather like the conciseness.) I have been a busy little bee. I had no frelling idea I could work so damn fast.

This is also the first vid I've ever done without a full-fledged line-by-line blueprint. I suspect such a thing would not have been possible if I hadn't been working from a single episode, and one I've watched about six times in recent weeks (when it aired, when I captured it--that's three times, for various stages of capture and compression--and twice for icon-making sprees). I had written down a few possible lyric associations, but for the most part? Flying blind. I hardly ever even looked back at the notes I'd scrawled out. It was an incredibly freeing experience. Like realizing God is dead.4

Talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you.5
I don't know how it happened, but I turned into a scary, crazy, hetshipper. Beka and Rhade are kissing all over this vid. (ljheadcadetdru says she stole my gay, so you can place the blame there, if you like.) ljheadjcalanthe asked me where my rampant Rhade/Dylan had gone, since Unconquerable Man has a fair amount of material for a slasher in Rhade's ressurrection of Dylan as a hologram. My reply was, "Man, Dylan took him for granted. Rhade deserves better. I just never knew he had the opportunity before."

Although that begs the question of why I wasn't playing with Rhade/Harper and Rhade/Tyr. (ljheadbonibaru, in discussing my sequencing with me, said Tyr was breaking up the Rhade/Beka. Somebody has to write that story now.) I don't know why, but I really like Beka and Rhade. I think he's probably a better catch than her usual for one... and, really, honestly? When I first saw the episode, up until the point when their relationship was revealed, Rhade had been so alone. I was glad that he had her, and then of course she left... It's a tragic thing. But the whole story of Rhade's life after the Fall is tragic, so it fits.

The Statue of Liberty is meant to be shorthand for a country so unlike its parts that a trip from California to Indiana should require a passport.6
Q: What do you do with American symbols in a vid about a world so far post-America that no one even much cares about the planet Earth anymore?
A: Use them on the Andromda Ascendant, of course.

I do love giving Andromeda metaphorical significance. Last time, she was the world--for two men who loved each other and lost each other on her, anyway. This time, she's the Statue of Liberty. What? It makes sense to me--she's last physical remnant of the Commonwealth that both Dylan and Rhade want to restore.

What does it mean, "the Statue of Liberty, sailing away to sea"? It's like "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" It's about disillusionment, the loss of ideals. ljheadjcalanthe asked me if I was being ironic by having Rhade's grimace for the line "smiled reassuringly." Not really. The song itself is being ironic that verse, because for all it may sound it on the surface, that verse is not a hopeful verse, it's a verse about losing faith in America. So, no, I wasn't being ironic to vid Rhade's loss of faith in his people there.

And, to return to the title of the song, "American Tune." Future!Trance shows up in Rhade's most uncertain hour and sings him her American Tune... it happens to be about leading the armies into the final war, and Trance knowing better than everyone else how to save the universe, but what kind of flaming liberal would I be if I didn't insert a little sneaky meta-political humor?

So long as a person who has made mistakes ... honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade.7
Aside from frame rate change abuse, I see one major flaw in my technique. (Be free to tell me if you see others.)

Talking heads.

Both ljheadbonibaru and ljheadjcalanthe pointed it out, and would you know it, I thought of it before they said it and had already cut several chunks of Rhade talking, and hunted high and low for bits of Harper and Trance where even if they're talking they at least stop to take a fucking breath.

Yap yap yap, as ljheadbonibaru says.

In my next vid, I will attempt to dispense with mouth-movement entirely, except where indicated by such lyrics as "'You know who I am,' he said."

Future. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.8
I'm ready to call this baby done and get it off my hard drive. I don't know why I'm not sure why I'm not suffering the separation anxiety I was last time--maybe something to do with getting some feedback before releasing this one, maybe something to do with the fact that I AM DOWN TO HALF A GIG OF SPACE ON MY HARD DRIVE and that freaks me out way more than throwing out the source files.

So when I'm done with that, I have a little more than a month to put together the vid I'm working on for ljheadj_crew_guy, which (look away, Charles) is Mutant X, Adam/Warhol to the tune of "Look Back in Anger" by David Bowie off Lodger. I'd already cut a fair number of clips for that when I got distracted by this vid, so I'm fairly on track.

I don't have a complete blueprint for it either. Some chicken scratch, and a vague idea of what I want to do with the (very long) bridges, but, I don't think I'll be working on the planning phase a whole lot more. Just gonna play it by ear, see how it goes.

Pithy Quotes (and Other Notes) Referenced Here:
1. ~Nigel, This is Spinal Tap.
2. One of the many reasons Macs kick ass. I love me my titanium baby.
3. ~Riff Raff, "The Time-Warp," Rocky Horror Picture Show.
4. ~I should completely not need to point you at Nietzsche and the existential crisis.
5. ~Oscar Wilde. The rest of the quote reads, "And at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact."
6. Anna Quindlen, journalist, New York Times.
7. Mao Zedong.
8. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.
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