Life In A Day

Part One

Creating this remix was my first experience working with digital video in order to complete an assignment. As challenging as it was, I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this medium. I downloaded Windows Movie Maker 2.6 and also used the online file conversion ZamZar. Since the theme of my video was to create one full day using clips from online, I relied quite heavily on ZamZar. The only major difficulty I came across while using this software was that certain YouTube videos that I wanted to use were too big for conversion. Luckily, MovieMaker worked very well for me also (only freezing once!).
My advisor has continually told me that, “editing video is the most exciting form of writing.” Throughout the Writing Arts program I have continually gained a larger understanding of the fact that writing does not always mean using traditional pen and paper. Using video as a form of writing has proven to be much more difficult for me to do, but I’ve also created something that I never would have imagined doing before. Trying to find the right clips to portray exactly what I wanted was the hardest part. Typing in, “My Morning Routine,” and getting hundreds of videos of teenage girls doing their make-up was not exactly what I was going for. Along with YouTube, I searched for clips using AdViews from Duke University Library. I also used the Moving Image Archives.

Another challenge throughout this process was discovering the proper song to go with my video. I started out with, “Circle of Life” from The Lion King, but that didn’t quite fit. In order to search songs that I might want, I used Jamendo. Using this website made it a lot easier to search songs that fit the mood and tone that I wanted the song to portray, rather than searching through my mental collection of songs. The song I wound up with wasn’t from Jamendo, but it helped immensely to narrow down what type of song I wanted to use.

Watching the, “Life in a Day” documentary was my original inspiration to create this project. I thought that it would be a lot easier to find clips that portrayed different parts of the day than it was. I quickly realized after my first draft that I needed to search for specific things. For instance, instead of searching “morning routine” I searched, “making coffee” and “latte art” in order to find what I wanted for the portion at the beginning of the video. After looking at my first draft, I also realized that I didn’t have much of an argument. I had a lot of videos saved that showed different times of the day – but they didn’t mean anything. In order to change the tone of my video I also had to start searching for more specific clips. This is how I found the “Behind the Brothel’s Walls” video which shows a 17 year old prostitute.

Part Two

As stated previously, the “Life In A Day” documentary was my original influence in creating this remix. After watching the documentary, I realized how little we are aware of what goes on in the rest of the world. In my remix, I wanted to somehow portray how naive we are about what other people live through on a daily basis. I understand that sometimes it’s easier to keep a blind eye, but sometimes we need to take a look at what is going on around us.

I struggled a lot with coming up with a solid argument for this piece. I wanted to show different areas of the world and how different they are, but that wasn’t enough. My first draft was full of light-hearted scenes combined with a song that gave the same tone. Ferguson states, “we can’t produce anything new until we are fluent in the language of our domain.” When I first heard this, I thought that I understood what it meant. Reflecting back on this quote now, I realize the processes that I was going through while trying to come up with the right clips for my video. It wasn’t until I became aware of what to search for, how to search, and exactly what I wanted for me to be able to successfully start compiling clips that were useful.

My first attempt at juxtaposition comes in at 58 seconds. I took a clip that I found on YouTube of two granddaughters kissing their grandfather (I assume this because it was the title of the video) and mashed it together with live footage from Afghanistan of a bomb exploding. By doing this, I contrasted a few things. First, innocence vs. violence. The granddaughters look to be only a few years of age, and are sharing a happy “kodak” moment with their grandfather. This clip is interspersed with images of the bomb exploding in the other clip. I chose to do it this way instead of showing one clip directly after another because it gives a more dramatic appeal. Besides innocence, I also wanted to show how naive some of us are about what is going on around the world. Some of us are blessed with a home filled with family and loved ones, while others are just trying to survive getting from one place to another alive. In such a short time, I felt that it was important for me to show extremes in order to get my full point across.

Next is a series of clips from “Behind the Brothel’s Walls.” In the original YouTube video, it shows two young female prostitues that are 16 and 17 years of age. I tried to choose clips that portrayed very harsh realties rather than just brushing on the surface. In the final frame of this part, I let it linger on a picture of her face for more than just a few seconds. Burgin discusses the awkwardness that we feel when being forced to look at something for longer than we are comfortable with. When looking at this picture for only a few seconds, the viewer is able to understand that it is the girl that was just seen in the previous clips. Looking at the image a little longer forces us to also connect with her innocence in this picture, and the understanding of what her life is at such a young age. It forces us to recognize these things while looking at her, rather than just catching a glimpse and moving on.

Starting around 1:32 I show scenes of abused patients at a mental institution. I also have these clips showing longer than what is comfortable because it forces the viewer to take in the reality of the situation. The last couple seconds shows a row of cribs with the patients literally tied to the bars – among other awful things. I followed this clip with a twin baby that climbs up and escapes out of his crib. I use this as a much less dramatic juxtaposition than the granddaughters. This is much more simple which in turns shows how ridiculous and awful it is that these people are literally tying their patients to cribs, while this one-two year old is climbing out of his.

My last major attempt at an argument was showing the clip of models being photographed interspersed with still images of starving children around the world. For this, my argument was also simple: we portray women with these so called perfect bodies who starve themselves in order to look that way while we have children around the earth who are literally starving to death. I wanted to drive home the point how shallow our media has become. It must be such an insult to other countries where they are dying because they can’t afford food or there simply isn’t any for them to eat, while we show half-starved women everywhere and portray them as having “perfect bodies.” It’s absurd.

Finally, I end with a few of the faces that were shown in previous parts of the video. I did this for the sake of familiarity. Ferguson states, “Audiences just prefer the familiar. Most box office hits rely heavily on existing material.” Although I didn’t use this quote directly, I think showing the same people a few times throughout the video creates more of a connection for the viewer. I think this holds especially true for the young girl who is in prostitution. By ending the clip with her, the viewer has already seen her story, and isn’t left with a view that everything is happy in the world.

I chose to use the song Lump Sum by Bon Iver. After much contemplation and changes, I stuck with this song for a few reasons. One, I loved the tempo and calmness of the song. I wanted the focus to be on the images rather than what the lyrics were. Also, the song constitutes a journey of sorts which is what I wanted all along. Even the way the beat moves, (staring out slow, picking up pace, and then fading off) creates this feeling.

References

Burgin, V. (1977, 2003). Looking at photographs. In A. Wells (Ed.), The photography reader (pp. 130 — 137). New York, NY: Routledge. [PDF]

Ferguson, K. (2011, 2012). Everything is a remix, parts 1 — 4.

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This entry was written by tarrmart and published on May 7, 2012 at 12:05 am. It’s filed under Semiotics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Life In A Day

  1. Outstanding, Tarrah. The best work you’ve done this semester. Bon Iver’s Lump Sum is spot-on for the song. The project from rough to final draft has changed radically and poignantly. The moments where you enact Burgin’s theory on lingering on the image are incredible–incredible and uncomfortable and necessary. Extremely well done.

    • tarrmart on said:

      Wow, thank you so much! It’s an honor to have you say all of that. It’s rewarding to know all of my hours working on it paid off! =)

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