Revised Version Below
Reflection on the Medium:
When I read on the course schedule that our last project would be creating remixes, I was nervous. As someone who is easily intimidated by technology, remembering all of the challenges working with iMovie HD presented when making my Oral History for Writing, Research, and Technology did not ease my nerves at all. I dreaded this assignment for the entire semester. As a very sequential and linear writer, the associative nature of this project was a daunting task to undertake. I was nervous about my abilities to successfully convey my message seamlessly by marrying a collection of video clips, images, and music. In his book, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud states “Writing and drawing are seen as separate disciplines, writers and artists as separate breeds—and ‘good’ comics are those in which the combination of those very different forms of expression is thought to be harmonious. Words, pictures, and icons are the vocabulary of the language called comics” (p. 47). While McCloud frames this definition in the world of comics, as I composed my remix I found that it can also easily be applied to remixing as well. Prior to this class, I thought remixers were a separate entity from writers. I could not understand why a writer would choose to create meaning via a remix rather than a traditional writing avenue. Since completing this project, my opinion has drastically changed.
I began working on this project with a vague idea of what I wanted to accomplish with my video. Through the act of searching on YouTube for possible videos to go express my message, my idea expanded and became much more multi-faceted then I could have imagined. In his book Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the Age of Media Convergence, Chuck Tyron states “compilation videos rely upon the ready availability of Hollywood film history, on the degree to which YouTube not only materially but also metaphorically keeps all texts available for reuse and recycling into new narrative” (p. 169), and searching on YouTube acted as inspiration for my overall message. Each new clip led me to a sidebar full of possibilities, which was something working within the confines of a traditional writing space would not have afforded me. Eventually, I narrowed down my topic to commenting on how the overabundance of newscasts and reality television shows hinder our ability to connect with each other in healthy, compassionate ways.
Locating the clips, while time consuming, was relatively easy. Waiting to receive my free clip conversions from zamzar.com was the difficult part. While I worked with the clips that were already converted (a couple of reality show clips and one news clip from Fox 5 News), I found that most of my misgivings about working with iMovie HD were unfounded. Rather than encountering problem after problem, iMovie became a great medium through which I could experiment with and construct my remix.
Remixing also lends itself to composing with several different materials, something that writing in the traditional sense does not afford. For this project, I was able to create one message by using a combination of video clips, still images, and music. Manipulating the length of each clip and image to fit in time with the music’s tempo attributes a different meaning to the clip or image. For example, the beginning of my remix begins with a collage of openings for newscasts that rapidly change along with the music. By doing so, I hope to convey not only the amount of different news venues available to viewers, but also how we, as a society, are bombarded by a constant stream of information.
Attempting to complete this project and deliver this message via traditional writing avenues would not have worked. The very nature of my topic would have been difficult to convey with words alone. I would have been stuck in an endless loop of descriptions while working with video as the main text allowed me to focus on manipulating the clips and images to successfully convey my message.
My first task in constructing my remix was to find a suitable song. While I had gathered clips prior to beginning my search for a song, I knew that the song I chose would be the pulse of the remix, providing both a beat for me to design the progression of clips around but also conveying a specific mood and tone. My first draft didn’t a consistent audio track and I knew that I didn’t want to use a song with lyrics. I had toyed with the idea of using the audio from each of the clips, but I wanted to challenge myself. In his essay entitled “Rhetoric of the Image,” Roland Barthes states “Anchorage is the most frequent function of the linguistic message,” and I didn’t want to force my clips to match up with a specific lyric (p. 275). Rather, I wanted to challenge myself to let the clips and the order in which I placed them to convey the message instead of relying on an audio track with accompanying lyrics. After searching on Jamendo for hours, and I do mean hours, I finally found a song from mindthings’s album Life’s Path entitled “Reversal Situation.” I chose the song for its frenetic and lulling beat simultaneously, emotions I believe the ever-evolving technologies of our society induce that would have been difficult to capture in written text.
While my clips is comprised of a number of different clips from a variety of videos, in comparison to other remixes on YouTube, I feel as though mine is fairly straight-forward. The beginning sequence of my remix is a compilation of opening themes from each of the major networks’ newscasts. Mashing all of these opening themes together shows the number of different newscasts aired daily on television. I also wanted to state that each of the major networks will be reporting on the same big news stories and a more diverse variety of local news stories, all of which are aired toward the end of the program after all of the lead stories had been covered (if it bleeds, it leads).
After the first fifteen seconds, I inserted a clip of a SWAT team emerging from their vehicle from “NBCNEWS NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Open (2012)”. After another second, a title card reading “Moment of Crisis” materializes at the bottom of the screen. While I didn’t want to anchor my clips to specific lyrics in a song, I did want this title card to anchor the rest of the remix within that framework. Our society is at a pinnacle moment of crisis, and the rest of the newscast clips convey that same message.
The following sequence of clips all pan around to give the viewer a peek into the surrounding areas; I chose these clips to represent that this same “moment of crisis” is happening across the globe and doesn’t pertain to one particular current issue, but is universal amongst them all.
As the tempo of the music changes after the first thirty seconds, the progression of clips increases as well. Every clips shows a different issue, a different problem, and a different enemy for our society to overcome. I chose to cut the full newscasts and intersperse them with other newscast clips in order to convey the constant flow of news streaming at us. I chose to leave each of the clips within the framework of the network news design because each network news station slightly skews the actual events in order to fit into the station’s style. As I was editing the clips together, I noticed some of them were more blurry than others. While I was initially bothered by that fact, I quickly decided those clips could convey the distortion that occurs when we watch the news through a network’s platform.
At the close of the first verse of the music, I inserted a couple of seconds of television static as a metaphorical representation of someone changing the channel. I then copy and pasted a portion of the beginning verse of the song where I previously inserted the newscast themes after the static. This time, I inserted the opening title cards from several popular reality television shows and dedicated a few seconds to an image of a television screen, which says “I must have my reality tv.”
Then I cut to a faster-paced portion of the song and cut several different over-the-top, extravagant clips, including performances from the “America’s Best Dance Crew Season Seven Official Trailer” and several clips of frenetic performance from the “Fashion Star Trailer.” One of the clips in this section of the video, “America’s Best Dance Crew-Champions for Charity-JabbaWockeeZ,” features a performance by the JabbaWockeeZ, reigning champions from the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew who are best known for their robotic and in-synch movements. The clip focuses on one JabbaWockee who taps out a “code” to the music and appears to control when the clip transitions to the next one. This represents our society’s belief that we are in control when in reality, there is always someone higher up in the chain of command who is pulling the strings. After the JabbaWockeeZ’s robotic dance, the clips transition to the “character-driven” reality shows in order to begin the transition back to humanity while still keeping the over-the-top quality of the previous clips.
At the three minute mark, there is a natural break in the music which I use to transition to sections of the newscasts that focus on human suffering. Most of the clips reference an Ohio school shooting and Columbine, but I intentionally cut out anything overt references made in the videos. I then used the soft focus feature in iMovie HD to further blur and distort the clips, which signify our loss of empathy toward each other as a result of the overbearing nature of television. I continue on this same vein for the rest of the video.
As this project comes to a close, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish with my remix. My ability to manipulate and use iMovie HD to successfully convey my desired message has grown so much within the last few years, and I hope to be able to use this software as a writing forum in the future.
Barthes, R. (1977). Rhetoric of the image. In A. Trachtenberg (Ed), Classic essays on photography (pp. 32-52). New Haven, CT: Leete’s Island Books.
McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.
Tryon, C. (2009). from Reinventing cinema: Movies in the age of digital convergence. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. pp. 161 – 173. [PDF]