Thursday, May 08, 2014

On producing a Video Review of the Features at my last Poetry Salon...

A long, tortured blog post on the making of the Video Interview of Michael Mirolla's and Claudio Gaudio's readings at my Poetry Salon @ Urban Gallery on April 26, 2014:

While this was meant to be a simple little video, it didn't turn out that way. On Sunday I stapled, clipped and taped bolts of unprimed canvas to the walls of apartment and on painting stretchers and easels to create a little 'nook' to video in. I set a Canon 60D on a tripod, a chair, got all my notes, and gave the talk. Only the DSLR stopped running after 11 minutes (I do use a 90mb/sec Sandisk card but haven't been able to get the 29.9min promised by the manufacturer). By the time I realized that I missed half my talk, I had already taken the 'stage set' down, and put everything away. Out it all came (that 12' x 15' canvas of sewn sections is unruly and heavy) and after setting the 'talking scene' up again, tripod, light, etc., I sat down to finish what I had to say. I took the SD card out of the camera this time and checked it on the computer. All there. So I dismantled my set and had a living room again.

All Sunday night I worked on the footage. The two different clips simply did not work together with the filters I wanted to use. The lighting from the first clip to the later one were different enough that the 'fake' green screening I like to do wasn't consistent across both clips.

The video clips from the first taping, the FCPX Event and Project got trashed.

The next day I made my way down to Queen St W where there are lots of fabric stores with inexpensive prices and procured 10 x 5ft of a nice bright blue polyester sheeny satiny fabric.

I set the scene again, camera on tripod, fabric clipped to a screen, paintings, tripods, a blue scarf for a floor, a chair, a stool for the papers. I tried to 'doll' myself up a bit - something not easy to do at the best of times given my age and really what is a 62 year old woman even attempting to do this kind of thing when no-one wants to look at age and if I'd been into this sort of thing 20 years ago it would have been so easy - yadda yadda - and then the rebel in me says ya know it's an ageist society and finger up against that and I will be who I am and do what I wish to do. Grit determination, in other words.

I had a large clock near the camera. Turned the viewfinder on the camera towards me and sat and began my talk again. Mirolla's section was done in one clip. Then I turned the recording off and started it again for Gaudio's section. So good to far.

Half way through Gaudio's section the doorbell started ringing. Oh la! A few times of at least a minute of chimes. And then loud knocking. I couldn't get to the door as I was trapped in a 'stage set' of blue fabric that had blocked off any way to get to the door so I had to let it go.

I stopped the camera. When it was quiet again, I re-started it and finished the talk, but, of course, I wasn't in exactly the same position as before, a little closer to the camera, and that's even worse to look at.

Never mind. I got the talk videoed. After, I checked the clips - all there - before dismantling my set and getting to the door to see who it might have been. The postman had left a small parcel at my doorstep (that is another story and it is something I did not order).

Ok, so now we are on the cusp of Monday evening. I had agreed to have the video interview into to KJ Mullins by that evening for her on-line Toronto newspaper, newz4u.net (her Arts section is one of the best in Toronto - she covers lots of events the big papers don't go near).

With the amount of footage, the green screening, popping in bits of the clips of the writers' readings that I did, the challenge with Mirolla's clip (in 3 fragments as the clip-on mic on the main video camera malfunctioned and there was no sound from that camera, only from the 60D I was walking around with), and how to put the videos of their readings behind me while I talk about their work was, to put it quaintly, challenging. I wanted faded out, not 'in your face' background footage. The first few versions were a purple colour that was quite hideous with the green linen skirt I was wearing and so I stripped colour from it. The video has so many layers and effects that it takes 7 hours to render and another hour or so to save out a 1080p version and that has really slowed everything down.

On Tues morning I worked on the video for about 6 hours before rushing off to see the Bacon Moore show at the AGO with a friend. I had set the video to save a version but my cat must have gotten into the cords since the external HDD had come loose and when I returned home around 9pm, so there was no saved video. I began the process of saving again. It was around 2:30am before I had a version and then I began uploading to YouTube, and that went through around 5am. I was quite sick that night, probably the tempura fried shrimp and vegetables I had had for dinner and didn't get to sleep until about 5am. At 8:30am the painter arrived to fix the holes in my ceiling from the flood I had in early December due to my upstairs neighbour's portable washing machine, which had come loose from the tap while he was out. I was still feeling nauseous and so cancelled a poetry performance I was to do that night. I worked on the video between resting all day.

The biggest problem was that on the second day that I videoed the talk the sun was not shining. So I used a 300W tungsten camera light (that is 30 years old! and still rumbling) and a daylight bulb in a clamp lamp. My face is whitened out. I tried so many different techniques and filters to correct the colouring to no avail. It was very orange because I wanted the red flowers in the top to pop but ultimately pushed the spectrum towards the yellows. I also removed the purple in the background so the whole image is easier to look at (that dull grape and the green honestly were not complementary) but that meant that there was a halo in the green screen effect that, try as I might, I was unable to remove due to deciding I had to keep the differing opacities of green screen and background video clips and therefore could not ultimately pull a clean screen.

Then rendering - it took 7 hours, and after beginning that lengthy process, I discovered how easy it is to do masks in Colour Correction in FCPX and did try but even that didn't make much difference to the washed out pallor of the speaker (which is what my simulacra becomes when I edit - just another old face that has long since stopped being 'me' to myself).

As of this point, I have not watched the whole video all the way through - scared to. I might see some major boo-boo and have to take it down and correct and spend another full day rendering and saving and uploading. The video review has taken days and I have other projects to work on, a life to get back to.

At the end of it all, though, I certainly hope the viewer learns something, gets something out of this video review.

But, really, I think it'll garner like 5 views - KJ Mullins, who owns and edits the newspaper I was doing the review for; the two authors (who will say little, being mortified I imagine by my work, but will thank me); me, who will have to sit through it again once more because it is on-line and I should see what I finally posted; and maybe a few partial views by interested parties... mostly people who work for or with the two writers.

It really wasn't worth the effort I put into it, and the production quality is not where I would have liked it to be, but it is okay, if it wasn't I would not post it, so I stand behind it, however that is. And, anyway, it'll float around the NET in the years to come and folks looking to write reviews, papers or theses may find some interesting tid bits in it, and then, it is also a historical timepiece, a lady poet in the 21st c who videoed her Poetry Salon and formulated a kindly 'review/introduction' of and to these two fine writers' work.


direct link: http://youtu.be/XHm_IiL9Sh4

___

 brendaclews.com