Friday, April 4, 2014

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #118

China 2001:  Tiananmen Square

When we visited Beijing in 2001 I was impressed with how open things seemed.  Capitalism had burst out, a people were excited to hone their English skills by speaking with us.  But at Tiananmen we caught a glimpse of oppressive surveillance.  I felt the need to be careful where I pointed my camcorder, as squads of uniformed men marched in cadence around the square.

I decided to attempt to make a video essay to express my feelings.  So please consider this video is an example of amateur editor experimentation.

My Internet research for details of the 1989 "massacre" gave me a few still photos and a better understanding of events that led up to 06/04/1989.  The photos were mostly black and white, which gave me the idea to desaturate anything that created an uneasy feeling.  Scenes that depicted openness and freedom of expression would be displayed in color.

Titles on the desaturated "uneasy" content were given a muted blood-red color.  "Happier" titles are bright white.  For the final scene I wanted to merge the two feelings.  So I composited a black-and-white image of the protestors "Lady Liberty" in its historically correct position, in front of a colorized image of the Mao portrait.  Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On" seems like an appropriate musical accompaniment.

I played an in-progress version of this video for my local Final Cut Users' Group.  They applauded and said that it was "well edited" and "interesting".  But I'm still not sure if the message is clear.  Nevertheless, but it was a good editing challenge and helped me to practice with my Final Cut Pro 5 software.

One more note about the editing challenges:  At 01m:03s there is a short video zoom into the Mao portrait.  My camera work was very shaky and I wasn't able to fix it using FCP5's rudimentary stabilization feature.  However, a new (and still controversial) version of iMovie had been introduced.  The smoothed result you see in my video was created by stabilizing in iMovie then importing that edited clip into Final Cut.  (I posted a before/after example of iMovie stabilization here).

Lessons Learned:
Wow!  This movie really s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my talent and imagination.  It a dramatic departure from my usual light-hearted touch. I've discovered that China 2001:  Tiananmen Square makes my home audiences uncomfortable; they came to be entertained, not see an anti-intolerance documentary.  
I made the choice to include this video with the other chapters on the vacation DVD.  Perhaps others would choose to create a simpler version for the DVD, and place the complex message in "Bonus DVD Features" or on the Internet.

Maybe a "vacation video" can become something more?  If something tugs at your emotions do some research, outline your ideas, assemble your media, and assemble your timeline!
Though I welcome the feeling, this sort of emotional inspiration rarely happens.  For examples, check out my previous posts Normandy, France and Nagasaki Peace Park.

All of the China trip vignettes are already loaded onto YouTube.  They may be viewed on one of my YouTube channels: HENBCtravel
I have three other channels that might be of interest:  HENBCvideo (miscellaneous videos that try to look professional, with particular respect for copyrights), RAGEAIR (advertises the licensing availability of my newsworthy videos), and this YouTube Channel of Shame (an odd collection of stuff, not respectful of others’ copyrights).

Music Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable music that is regrettably used without permission.  
Today, with digital distribution, artists' rights deserve more attention.  Since this video is intended for non-profit illustration and educational purposes only, I believe that valid arguments can be made for its "Fair Use" in this situation.  I also feel that Marvin Gaye would be pleased that his music inspired me.  Please understand that I do not encourage improper use of copyrighted material.

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