Friday, May 08, 2009


Rather than exclusively filming mini-drag shows -- which are rife with copyright infringement -- or silly sketches -- which have a whole bunch of tiresome and restrictive requirements -- I decided to make a music video. But I wanted the video and the music to evolve TOGETHER, instead of filming footage for a song I've already done.

So I filmed some footage and moved it back and forth between iMovie and Logic Studio, massaging both the video and music until...

"Phonebox/Lunchbox," the first in a projected series of "box" video-songs.

The Background

This is all part of an attempt to broaden my horizons, and in particular to learn new skills. I figured that this project would require me to research and explore a lot of things outside of my comfort zone: concept, composition, and actually trying to ACHIEVE something instead of just letting it happen.

Remember when I got all gushy about the video stabilization feature in iMovie '09? Well it has a pretty serious bug: if you choose to stabilize your trimmed clips in the editor window (instead of stabilizing the pre-trimmed clips in the event window), and then you decide later on to change the trimming for the clips, iMovie tends to misapply the stabilization settings and it will not let you override them. Even deleting the video entirely from the project and then re-importing it will not help...iMovie never forgets.

So if you noticed the three or four jittery clips in that video, I'm afraid that there was nothing I could do: iMovie would not let me choose a stabilization value above 101%. I have learned my lesson.

Most of the phone and wire footage was filmed on a beautifully cloudy, ominous morning. The park footage was filmed that sunny afternoon. I'm totally aware that many of the things I filmed are NOT telephone-related, but heck, I'm no technician!

As for the telephone voices, I have been collecting those for years, and this project was in many ways born from a desire to finally USE some of them.


Gary said...

I liked the video's ethereal, surrealistic feel (I hope that's what you were aiming for). Some of the early parts seemed Hitchcockian (I almost expected to see/hear "Birds," or Norman Bates).

I was hoping to later hear the garbled phone messages with greater clarity, since the camera kept returning to the phone booth.

Also, perhaps a few quick cuts on the phone, zooming outward (showing the extent of the network - i.e, phone/cable/overhead wire//junction box/central office). I don't know your intent - it's just a visual suggestion. (I know, it's so easy to critique others' work.)

Nice outdoor scenery in the last half. Gave me more the sense of loneliness than the foreboding that was intimated in the "urban" beginning.

I'm not sure, but I may have dropped the thread of the story on the last quarter or so.

I got the feeling in the first half that you were seeking the other part of a conversation; in the second half, you were trying to make an in-person connection.

Perhaps it's a bit like a dream that is explainable in its part, but not as a whole.

With a little re-working, betcha you could really scare the audience (or make us really think!).

Nice job!

Kimber said...

The voice of the collection agent was the scariest!

I think it's great you've saved up all these voices for so long and found an artistic vehicle for them.

In the 90's, my dad's then-girlfriend bought me an answering machine - the kind that actually used little cassette tapes. Eventually the tapes got worn down and stretched and would turn people's messages into really bizarre versions of themselves. If only I had kept them...I could donate them to your cause!

Adam Thornton said...

Gary, I was certainly going for "etherial," with an emphasis on cropping out or avoiding anything recognizable other than phone-related things.

Good suggestions! I didn't include more messages because I wanted the audio to "progress" a bit, without returning to the same sources (or distracting anybody with audio messages), but I was probably too concerned about that.

When I remix the audio portion to turn it into an actual song, it will certainly contain more messages.

I also tried to avoid zooming this time around; I figured that I could set a mood with just horizontal and vertical pans, contrasting the static shots at the end (where the only things moving are squirrels, joggers, and cricket players).

It turns out that none of the phone boxes had any external wiring, much to my dismay...they all appear to connect underground. I was surprised that so many of them are still around!

Adam Thornton said...

The collection agent! I have a few more from her (she was trying to contact a different family member and was just calling everybody with his last name). It's enough to make you want to pay your bills on time...

I really wish you had kept those tapes, Kim...all that art waiting to be unleashed!

Adam Thornton said...

And yes, I really CAN spell ethereal.

Morgan said...

i think it's cool that you 1000th post is an original film by Muffy!

Gary said...

Now, if only you could find a "Doctor Who" police call box...

Adam Thornton said...

Morgan, it was so cool that I totally forgot to mention it. I had to settle for 1001 instead. :)

As for a Doctor Who police box, I WISH!