The above is a video essay I've created about the significance of Captain America's assassination and rebirth with a gun on his belt (something the old Cap didn't have). Over the last three weeks plus, I've clocked anywhere from 2-6 hours a day on this puppy. I started by gathering video clips from YouTube and DVDs, along with soundbites from Podcasts, radio broadcasts, and special effects sound offline. I've got footage from all over the place in there: video blogs, fan news videos, Fox News, the Colbert Report, NPR, and film clips. Then there's the exorbitant amount of comic book stills and covers from DC and Marvel Comics.

After I gathered all the pieces, I spent a lot of time just playing around with how to organize it all. I decided to take a journalistic approach. I let the stills and video clips go first, telling a story of a character once revered to murdered. I originally planned on a voiceover but then I just kept creating it without one, everything seemed to just flow so well. Finally, I did run out of audio clips and decided that I wanted to insert my voice in it, vis-a-vi, voice of God style. I looked at the clips I'd created and wrapped my voice narration around the edited content already there. I recorded the audio with my iPod, using the voice memo application, and emailed myself the files when I was done. I did have to redo one clip because it peaked when recording (and you can probably tell which clip it is since I couldn't get it to sync). Before this project, I didn't know how to get images to move across screen, something I had to learn since I was dealing with vertical comic book covers over a horizontal visual space. Thankfully, somebody posted a YouTube tutorial to do just that. The second to last main piece was locating sound effects. The beeping sound at one part of the video in one beep copied and pasted many times over--and the military document that goes with it is several different frames, one for each new letter added to a sentence. Everything else was just learning how to structure it all. Thinking of essay form greatly helped with that process after several changes to the structure.
It was a conscious effort not to choose "Patriotic" songs because I wanted to show that what's been happening in the Captain America storyline is helping redefine how the character wears the American flag on his chest.
The last part of the puzzle was music. It was a conscious effort not to choose "Patriotic" songs because I wanted to show that what's been happening in the Captain America storyline is helping redefine how the character wears the American flag on his chest. Instead, I chose mood music from Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream), Cliff Martinez (Solaris), Nine Inch Nails, Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica), and The Appleseed Cast.

I used KeepVid to rip videos offline and Quicktime to convert them to use in Adobe Premiere. I also used Photoshop to prepare images for video, edit some images ("Dust and Speckle" helped me smooth out a few), and create some photo art as well. The biggest problem I encountered with this projects was Premiere's tendency just to shut off on occasion without warning...and more importantly a chance to save the work I'd done. This process alone added several hours of work. It was an exhausting process to create this film but I'm very broad of the final product. I've done other videos before but never without having to shoot anything. It was both a challenge to solely use other people's material and refreshing not to have to worry about importing.

We showed this videos in class today and I do agree with the criticism. The video moves very fast. This comes from both my frustration with online videos I'd seen that stay on any one image too long without moving and my love for fast-paced film (yes, I did like the new Star Trek, along with films like 300, but not Transformers 2, that's the line). There was just so much to say in 5 minutes. I realize that my familiarity with the material made it difficult for me to notice this but, at the same time, I created a video that would appeal to Captain America fans on the viral webscape. My intention was to create something that move quick for people that already have a working knowledge of Cap but also something short enough that it could be viewed multiple times and still have something new to offer the viewer. That said, I definitely should've spent more time showing the main image I address. If I were to do this video again, I'd redo the voiceover to it flows smoothly, spend more time on volume settings, and extend it to about 8-10 minutes. I have enough footage here with images alone to do that.

1 Response to 'Death and Rebirth: Captain America Takes Up Arms (video essay made Visual Research Methods)'

  1. Anonymous Said,'> February 26, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    Tim: The real strengths of this piece are its "weaknesses" as well: it is expertly edited to create a zippy, smooth, fast, polished whirlwind of a ride composed of a multiplicity of elements that add up to one forceful argument. Your hand is one of directed dynamism. A weakness, as I said, only if one is not familiar with the material. For example, you don't identify where clips come from (and this is probably evident to fans), cementing the power of your voice. This said, your voice over performance is not as foreceful as your editing, an interesting tension is created. For instance, the voice-oer leaves ultimate conclusions to the reader although I think you are pretty clear about how you feel about this gun (at least visually). Great work.


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