Thursday, October 25, 2007

Saying Yes to the Mistake

yellow_stringI have clocked far too many three and four and two in the mornings recently. (Four is really the worst.) The upcoming performances in New York generate excitement and nervousness, and so I've been back to work on this summer's video patches. I really do want the images to look as clean as possible, but high fidelity comes with a price, as yesterday I wrote to A--
Now that I'm looking at this new version, I'm starting to worry that it is "too correct." Seeing the videomix without so many dropped frames...I don't know? I'm starting to feel that the "big mistake" (the dropped frames, the lurching and jerking playback rate, the slightly frayed edges) was somehow much better, closer to the aesthetic of the actual content. We lived with the flaws for so long--for this whole summer--and now that I've "fixed" things, well...I have an eerie feeling we are going to miss the way it looked, even if that was imperfect, even if I expressed frustration with the picture clarity on numerous occasions, even if it was technically a "mistake." Does this happen to you in the audio world? You think you're working towards correcting a mistake, and then when you "fix" it, you decide the mistake was a whole lot more interesting?
fingersThere are two video projects in question: my dear butterflies, of course, and then a new mix, all shadowy and brilliantly lit, of Miss Hannah making string figures. Hannah looks great (thanks to some sage advice) but fails to run at a smooth, continuous rate, while the butterflies (in this new version) flip and flutter around the screen with seamless speed but look fuzzy, ragged, and pixellated. The mistake was so much better! What am I doing trying to make things "right?" I like my butterflies when they look great, even if they "fly" in completely stunted, artificial spurts. The dropped frames give a stop motion effect to this project, and the scissors are definitely more ominous when they look about to snip but then (drop frame, drop frame, drop frame) falter and halt and leap ahead. The deed gets done (snip snip!) but you never actually see the completed motion of the act... (Hmm, and does anyone else notice how the butterflies like to be fed at four in the morning?)

The problem is...I feel the exact opposite for Hannah, though I should admit that she never existed as a midsummer's mistake, and so I never grew used to her in an "imperfect" or mistaken version. She was on my drafting board, of course, but her time is now, or at least, very soon, and I turn my intentions on her with a firm and deliberate idea about the relationship between thematic content and visual clarity. I am willing to sacrifice pristine image quality if she would only "play" at a rate that compares to the original video footage! Play fair, honey! Play with rhythm and grace! Play well! None of these dropped frames, dammit! (See what wee hours of the morning can do to a person?) So it's back to the drawing board for the next few days, except for tonight. Tonight, I sleep.


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