Thursday, July 10, 2008

M.A.S.K Volume 2 confirmed!

After a long wait, the UK region 2 DVD of M.A.S.K is almost confirmed as a go! This DVD will carry the remainder of season one and the short lived season 2.

I'll be doing the cover, interior artwork and there is some talk (but nothing definite) of a special feature that might involve yours truly. All is subject to the usual gremlins that can change, bugger or halt the release of a product. Should be looking at starting work soon on the title!

When the final definitive 'yes' comes through, I'll let you know!

Doctor Who Trailer Maker and the art of Fan Video Montages!

Just for the sake of irrelevancy, I've been enjoying the Doctor Who Trailer Maker (UK only). A sort of Flash Imovie variant that allows you to compile preselected clips, sound FX and music together into one 30 second piece.

It's a great little way to pass.. well, a few hours. I've always been big into editing. I did music editing/production at college, produced a single and even heck, I still still cut and remix music tracks on the old laptop. Even in less technical mediums, I enjoy the editing process. I've been working on a script for a Quarry Grove animated proposal as well working with the author supplying additional material to his second book. I love editing - its a fascinating process. In the book I'm writing part of the satisfaction comes from the swap, cuts and changes that comes in the post edit of a chapter.

So this little Doctor Who Trailer Maker has got me spellbound. Sure, I could make my own with far less bugs on Imovie, but that requires the tedious research of clip compiling. No, what I love is editing - choosing from required clips, searching for the most appropriate cuts and splicing in synchronization to a score. The Trailer Maker allows you to do that, albeit with a few glitches.

First off - as you'll see on the following links (UKers only unfortunately), a couple of plays will give you slightly different transition points - this makes it very hard to make a tight edit. When I had finished and saved the trailers, I found that the more smoother playback option (only available once saved and dusted) revealed hiccups that were not present in the suite. One of the trailer maker's good points is it does allow you to - with a little difficulty - manipulate what elements of a given clip you use. Problem is, the suite doesn't make the cuts very clear so on final playback you see a hint of a pre-directed cut within in a clip that was never in your suite playback. The second clip has a couple of instances of this - watch out for the slight glitch in the "Blink" segment.

Another problem that presented itself in the second clip is memory capacity. The trailer maker only has a limited memory size, and with the second clip running fast cuts to the pushes in Gold's score, it counts those mere seconds as full clips. Therefore you find your trailer is so crammed, gremlins start taking control - in particlar, loss of sound! And after a few hours your final clean up gets somewhat marred in your efforts to hear the music that accompanies your clip! Makes it very hard to touch up those transitions!

My other grumble is the lack of non-talking clips, and the different sound quality in clips with sound. The latter problem informs the former; when the sound levels vary, you need to look at nulling the audio on the clips (which Trailer Maker allows you to do), of course this creates a problem in what clips you can have. How so? Well, it's an issue that so many fan video montages fail to understand - if you are running a silent montage to music, DO NOT use clips with people talking. It's sloppy, distracting and immediately looks amateurish. But when a great deal of the available clips have a great a deal of chat - especially the primary Doctor sourced material, it makes it hard to create a decent cut.

But overall, it's a fun piece of Flash software that shouldn't be taken seriously. It would be great to be able to easily adjust and tighten your selective choices, but it really is a resilient program to anal perfection.

So anyway, here's my two attempts. They aren't brilliant - more thanks to the choices at hand and the buggy nature of Trailer Maker - oh, and the fact I'm not a professional, just an over-enthusiastic home video editor with a sheer love of splicing!

Before I finish, here are my 5 pieces of advice to those who enjoy the thrill of making homage montage for their favourite show!

1. Keep your clips short: I see this so much on Youtube, fan videos which just let clips roll on and on and on, letting the production crew behind the clips do the editing work rather than the fan! Don't be lazy and don't let the clips you are montaging do all the cut work.

2. Don't use clips of characters conversing, unless the audio is present. It looks unprofessional, distracting and plain weird.

3. Don't do chronological. Nothing is worse than watching a montage which is an episode from beginning to end - to music. Be creative, look at how the music can work with the clip to invoke its own special relevance!

4. While it's great to link clips to particular lines in songs, don't over-rely on this technique. Music is an evocative medium, sometimes far more than the lyrics themselves, don't allow yourself be dragged down in making a video too focused on complimenting the lyrics - go a step further and see if it can match the mood as well!

5. Try using music other people do not. Popular scores/pop songs that have had serious over-use include Requiem For a Dream, virtually everything by Linkin Park and Green Day, or that famous song by Evanescence. Especially avoid Linkin Park with Final Fantasy - it's been done to death.

Anyway, here are my sloppy, buggy Doctor Who Trailer edits. Try and enjoy!

Trailer One (done a few months back)

Trailer Two (done yesterday!)