Video Project

For our group’s video project, we decided to a remediation of various video works to talk about existentialism in a typical college student’s life in a humourous way. Our larger group of 5 people initially started out to shoot footage of a college student and examples of good student behaviour and bad student behaviour. We shoot a lot of footage of typical activities of a college student, such as going to the library, going to the gym, meeting up with friends in bars, and waking up hung over. We wanted as much visual evidence as we good get, hence the variety of footage we shot. Within the variety of shots we took we had some abstract footage that could be used in various different situations, but also concrete images of our actor doing very tangible activities. While shooting, I wanted to get a sense of observation, hence most of the footage being third person and from a observing gaze of the subject.

While the initial ideas for the video was to showcase good and bad examples of a college student, when we split off into our smaller editing groups we had different ideas. In my smaller editing group, we wanted to do something that we saw in our actor’s expressions while shooting. Even during the scenes that were supposed to be more fun, a la the bar scene, he looked like he was not as interested. This has inspired me to create a final video that was sadder and darker in tone. Then we were inspired by our instructor to check out Henri the Cat videos, which really inspired us to do something similar. The Henri the Cat videos reminded me of Godard movies, and everything clicked into place. I wanted to do a remediation of a French New Wave film (as they often dealt with themes of existentialism) and the cat videos (which were also a tribute to French New Wave cinema).

In the end we ended up using the sounds directly from the cat videos. I think if we had more time we could have done a more serious job and recorded our own narrations, but with our tight deadline we did not have the luxury of doing so. After deciding on using the narrations from the cat videos, it turned into something more comedic – as it was a voice of a cat talking about cat struggles, but our subtitles were talking about something very different (the main character’s existential struggle through college life).

In terms of visual editing choices made, I tried to reflect a lot of editing techniques used in Godard’s iconic film Breathless. Our video is entirely in black and white, which gives it a more sombre and artistic feel. I also used multiple jump cuts, which is something Godard was famous for using in his films. I used most of the jump cuts in the video during the bar scenes to depict time passing aimlessly and to add a sense of discomfort.

If we could improve on the video, I think I would do a lot more differently. For example, I would really like to record our own narration to better reflect what is happening visually. Using pre-existing audio sources I felt that we were limited in what and how much we could say. Also, because we had to use two different Henri audio tracks in the video, there is a point half way through the video that is awkward in terms of visual and audio matching each other. I would also like to explore more with shooting the video, perhaps with more close-ups of the main character’s face, and perhaps experimenting with more first person perspectives.


Film Trailer Editing Analysis

The film I picked was David Fincher’s remediation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I picked this film because I remember one of the trailers being extremely memorable. The film is a very gritty thriller with very explicit visual imagery. Both of the trailers do a very good job at delivering this mood, but in different ways.

The first and shorter trailer is edited using fast cutting. Sans the opening establishing shot of the car turning into the snowy drive way, all the following shots are extremely short. The trailer does not reveal anything about the synopsis of the film, and just provides very appealing visuals to promote the movie. The music used for the trailer, Karen O and Trent Reznor’s cover of “Immigrant Song” originally by Led Zeppelin, is very intense and is ideal for setting the gritty mood of the movie. (It is also used very effectively in the gorgeous opening scene of the movie.) In fact, the editing in the trailer seems to reflect the music as the cuts are made in tune with the song.  The shots jump back and forth in time and is not in chronological order. It also varies in terms of colours: darker scenes are often contrasted with very bright yellowish scenes to give the trailer an even more jagged and chaotic atmosphere. The trailer does consistently flash back to the initial scene with the car driving into the snowy driveway, showing the car getting closer and closer to the mansions between other short shots, which adds suspense to the trailer as it appears more frequently near the end of the trailer. The trailer does some interesting editing using match cuts, as the characters’ actions reflect each others through transitions, adding some continuity (along with the repeated driveway scene) to the trailer. The trailer reaches climax at the end when the tagline “The feel bad movie of Christmas” flashes in huge stenciled letters in fast cutting in tune with the song turning into loud noise effects. From this trailer one can assume that the movie will be violent and gritty with a lot of gruesome imagery.

The second trailer is edited in a more traditional trailer style. The main difference from the first trailer would be that this trailer actually introduces the story. It still incorporates same scenes used in the first trailer, but most of them longer than in the first trailer. Through the main characters’ voice-overs, the story is introduced, as the scenes showed reflect what is being said. From this trailer, one could safely assume that the movie is a crime/mystery thriller, as the most of the trailer is spent introducing the mystery behind the murder of Harriet. Another interesting editing in this trailer is that although it starts out with relatively longer cuts, the shots become shorter and shorter as the trailer progresses, becoming quite similar to the first trailer near the end. However, the music used in this trailer is more ambient and low-energy compared to the aggressive and noise-filled music of the first trailer. If the first trailer’s music gave it a sense of violence, the second trailer’s music adds a sense of mystery. The second trailer definitely makes the movie appear more reserved and quiet.

From someone who has seen the movie a couple of times, I think it would be really interesting to re-cut the trailer using different music. I would love to see the trailer edited with Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”, a New Age song that doesn’t suit the movie’s overall mood at all but is used in an extremely intense and crucial (SPOILER) torture (SPOILER END) scene during the movie. If I get to re-cut the trailer, it’d be a relatively short trailer (30 seconds). I think I will start out with “Orinoco Flow”‘s chorus with fast cutting of the movie’s more violent scenes. The song will contrast the visuals being showed and fascinate the audience (hopefully). I would still like to use the tagline “the feel bad movie of Christmas” because that seems extremely fitting to the movie and is also fascinating being contrasted with the somewhat ironic music choice. Although the song does not reflect the movie’s content at all, I think it would be nice to have a strangely paradoxical trailer of the movie because the scene involving the Enya song was mindbogglingly bizarre because of the gravity of the situation being contrasted with the Enya song. Furthermore, for people who watch the movie after viewing the trailer would slap their knees so hard and remember the trailer better.


Visual Evidence and Documentaries.

  • Visual evidence. Visual evidence is necessary to make a good documentary. It is the actual footage that will support the narrative of the documentary and convey the message of the film. Without visual evidence, the documentary will come off as false or fake. Also, a film really isn’t a film if it doesn’t have visual evidence. For example, a film can’t really be called a film if it doesn’t have any visual elements but only sound. Sound is secondary to movies, it’s the visual evidence that is the most important aspect.
  • Footage. In order to have the appropriate visual evidence in your movies, you need real quality footage. Particularly if you are shooting a documentary because footage is extremely important in telling the truth as it is. For example, the writer talks about the teacher and the student knitting and sharing a profound moment. However, he failed to retain decent footage of the event, and in turn could not showcase his message through that particular scene. Even if you are more interested in what people have to say, it is equally, if not more, important to shoot people doing what they do.
  • Concrete images. In order to make a movie you need to have concrete images. It is not possible to ‘shoot’ abstract ideas. To build up visual evidence for a film, you need images that are “solid, tangible, existential”. For example, “on Tuesday, the mail didn’t come” cannot be filmed. Instead, to make up proper visual evidence, you will shoot various footage of perhaps a character waiting for the mail, constantly checking her mailbox, with references to the fact that it’s Tuesday by using a calendar or the radio. This is a concrete image that could become visual evidence for the film.