Friday, December 20, 2013

SH121 - Auferstehen des B├╝roarbeits

video: Patlabor TV
music: Equilibrium - "Prolog auf Erden"
link: zippyshare [26.3 MB]
editor: Magix 2.0+ deLuxe
production date: December 2013

After more than a year and a half of not doing anything, I got off the schneid and finished SH121, a concept video that redeems itself by having Patlabor and Equilibrium in it.  This was also a good test run for a bunch of other long cuts that are still on the drawing board, even if it's pretty unlikely that a lot of them are ever going to become videos.

This video comes with a manifesto, because this is what editors do when they don't edit much any more: they pontificate about why editing is worthless and pointless.


This is the first AMV in a long while where I can think that I may have created something.  I have seen what's at the bottom of the well, and there's nothing there.

Specifically, when we think about AMVs, we generally think about sync, about story, and about the mood or feeling.  However, the first two of these are really founded on sand.  On SH119, I explored the idea of sync and found that there was less there than supposed: you could 'sync' the same video to two quite different audio tracks simultaneously.  SH119 does not have the best sync in the world, not in either track, but that it works at all -- and plays very differently depending on the audio -- undermines the idea that sync is deterministic.  If you have a 120 bpm song -- the classic moderato tempo that practically everything on the radio is at, you can count along in 4/4 if you like and put your second hand on it -- you get 2 beats to the second, so the most that any cut or movement can be out of sync with some beat or another is .25 seconds.  That's getting pretty close to the limits of perceptive closure, the threshold where the human mind just says "it's supposed to be together, so we'll interpret it as together".  If you have a faster song, your windows are even smaller: this makes it easier to synch, contrary to a lot of received wisdom, because your hits and changes are necessarily closer to something, no matter where they happen to occur.

SH115 of course attacks the idea that 'story' is necessarily a contribution of the editor.  If people can find intent and direction in SH115, they are 1) creating it themselves 2) out of the bones of the single film source.  This shows that 'story' is going to be an emergent property in anything cut out of directed footage: because we don't shoot our own footage, there is always someone else's story embedded in it.  This can be alleviated a little by cutting out of a large number of sources, or very, very, deliberate crosscutting, but this is wicked hard, and we don't, as a community, hold people to this rigorous standard when they claim to have put a story in.  What 'story' means, in the main, in AMVs, is that someone has taken only the 3 minutes of cuts needed to tell someone else's story, discarding everything that they felt was extraneous.

So if 'sync' is largely suspect, and 'story' almost completely suspect, there's only 'mood' left.  This is kind of where SH121 came from, picking up on strands from SH119: if the same video can play differently depending on the audio track, perhaps 'mood' is solely a reaction to the song, and a video would be as expressive with panes of solid color instead of animation -- or with scenes of regular office work.  This is incomplete as yet, because there's still some internal setup in this one, and a directorial hand (mine and mostly Head Gear's) setting up sequences of shots rather than forming a pure visualization of the sound.  But to the extent that this video is epic rather than episch, mood is an emergent property of the music.  Ask yourself: when did you hear of an AMV whose video made dark and brooding music light and happy, or light and happy music dark and anguished?  The music commands, and the visuals follow.

To reiterate:
- 'sync' exists in a fairly debatable fashion and can be done by accident
- 'story' is an emergent property of anything rebuilt out of parts that were directed to begin with
- 'mood' is an emergent property of the music that gets passed to the video passim
This leaves the AMV editor with very little to do; their contribution is mostly the idea, the discovery of synthesis between music and video.  Most AMVing is thus an immensely more time-consuming and nit-picking way of dropping the needle as soon as the MGM lion roars.  This is the ultimate explanation of why there is such a fascination with effects, with masking, with combining multiple titles: these are all original things that an editor can do to add value to something that in many ways would be able to function without them.  From the other side, if you're not doing that stuff, because it's hard, because it's less possible with your setup, because it's only tenuously related to the part where you combine music with animation in a way someone else hasn't thought of, then your videos do not have enough original content in them to justify words like "creator" or "artist".

That said, people eventually fall out the other side as well: no matter how much original work they spackle on, they're ultimately working with someone else's scaffold, and will eventually pursue actual original animation, filmmaking, or direction on order to break free from the constraints of AMV.  So AMV at its base is pointless, and at its most developed heights is incomplete and self-defeating.

This doesn't mean that people should stop making videos.  What it does mean is that people should be conscious of what AMV is, and then make the videos they want to make, the way they want to make them, in the awareness that this is a lot of smoke and shadows.  So is life.  If the knowledge that AMVs are an empty bucket with a hole in it stops you from editing, your potential videos were probably crap.  And if it doesn't, hopefully it will make people work harder, to produce the best and most fully realized empty buckets with holes in the bottom that they can.


The translations: the video title is probably best translated as "Rising of the Officework", like on the original .org forum ad card.  "Ein Zeichentrickfilmauseinandersetzung des K. u. K. Stromler AGs" is "An AMV (literally, "(drawn) animation video disassociation") from K. and K. Stromler Incorporated"; 'u.' is short for 'und' and appears like this in a lot of Germanic business names, while 'AG' is short for Aktiengesellschaft, a company traded on the stock market.  The point of this stuff is that Equilibrium write a lot of fancy German in unreadable fonts, and the video is all office work.  In the source cards, "tonband" is "soundtrack", "bildnisherkunft" is a clunky way of writing "visual source", "Bewegspolizisten Patlabor" is a freehand retranslation of "Kidou Keisatsu Patolabor" (Mobile Police Patlabor), and "Fernsehserie" is the longest way I could find of writing "TV (series)".  The last card reads: "Legally and Socially Responsible: fuckit, dude", because this is the punchline of the credits sequence.