Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Editing Tricks for Amateur Vacation Video #144 - Nazca, Peru

Peru 1999: #2 of 5   NAZCA  (edited in 2012):

Extraterrestrial Production Assistance?
I normally offer a short description of each video before analyzing the editing technique.  This one, however, deserves a longer explanation.

When I was in high school, Erich Von Däniken published Chariots of the Gods?  The author hypothesizes that aliens once visited earth and were worshipped as Gods.  Däniken's evidence includes the extensive drawings formed by excavated channels in the parched sand near Nazca, Peru.  Rod Serling narrated a 1973 television production titled In Search of Ancient Astronauts that featured aerial photography of the "Nazca Lines".
(A popular television series was spun off;  In Search Of enjoyed a five-year-run and was narrated by Leonard Nimoy following Serling's death.)

Our 1999 vacation in Peru included a sightseeing flight over Nazca.  I remembered the book and found the Rod Serling video on YouTube.  Thirteen years later I decided to merge my vacation footage with some scenes from 1973 broadcast television.

Searching for good vacation video among all this alien stuff?
As you might imagine, I have hours of footage of the Nazca Line fly-over.  The unedited video is impossibly boring; but my edited vignette is only three minutes long.

It begins with twenty seconds of establishing shots and titles.  They make only marginal sense, some of the analog video is flashing -- obviously damaged.  Perhaps this should have been cut from the final version.
Once Rod Serling starts talking, it's a flashback to the Twilight Zone.  We're on a small propeller aircraft.  My grainy and shaky video mixes well with the old television footage (I did some color matching within Final Cut Pro X.)   Some cheesy animated effects were borrowed from a 1950's sci-fi movie and are good for a laugh.
Details of the line drawings are easily seen, and the tiny "alien" toy on the pilot's dashboard is cute.  My two favorite things are:  The alien visitor in a Far Side cartoon resembles one of the Nazca figures; and the out-of-tune Thus Spake Zarathustra by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.


Lessons Learned:
Technically speaking, this video production is pretty horrible.  But it provides four solid laughs in 2-1/2 minutes.  Strip off the unnecessary introductory scenes, and I'd consider it a success!
Don't be afraid to try something crazy!  In this case it mostly worked.

Once again, "too much ownership" prevented me from ruthlessly cutting stuff that didn't work.  I think a trusted advisor needs to be called upon for constructive criticism before the final edit.
Take some time to learn your software's basic color correction tools.  FCPX allowed a one-click fix to match my footage to the faded colors of the old Rod Serling video.

More about Chariots of the Gods?
Much of Von Däniken's evidence has been debunked.  But the whole concept of prehistoric alien visitors still captures the imagination.
By coincidence, my vacation videos have previously documented two other "alien technology" examples cited in Chariots of the Gods:
  • The Iron Pillar of Delhi, a non-rusting wrought iron column found in India
    (Check out HENBC Blog #33 an early edit that includes a glimpse of the Pillar at the 2:00 minute mark.)
  • The Moai, monolithic human figures found on Easter Island.
    (Check out HENBC Blog #27 for a primitive edited look Easter Island.)
  • A third example would be the Stonehenge in England.  But we haven't been there yet!

Copyright Considerations:
This original audience for this video was friends and family who would view the DVD in my living room.  It contains identifiable material 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.  Please understand that I do not encourage improper use of copyrighted material.

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