March 5th, 2006  |  Published in old and busted  |  4 Comments

I’m afraid YouTube doesn’t do it a lot of justice, but here’s a quick montage I put together from the Friday night pillowfight on Pioneer Courthouse Square.

We took Ben downtown and made it to the square with about ten minutes to spare. In that ten minutes, the square went from “mostly empty in the square itself with a chunk of people milling around on the steps” to “packed with people.” You could tell something was up, just because there were a lot of cameras mounted on tripods at the most choice shooting locations around the edge of the square. That and people walking around with pillows stuffed under their jackets, looking like extras from “Fight Club” the way they glanced at each other.

I took along my Powershot S2 hoping to see how its video mode would work in relatively poor shooting conditions and I was pretty happy with it. It shoots at 640×480/30fps and it allows for use of the optical zoom when shooting (which is something the G5 couldn’t do). All that video ends up costing about a gig for seven minutes of shooting, so I ended up slipping the SD card out of my Palm to get a few more minutes of footage when I ran out my primary card.

I’m still tinkering with iMovie to get a presentable downloadable Quicktime I can put up in this space. Meantime, the YouTube version sort of gets the point across.

Update: There’s also a much better standalone Quicktime version (320×240, 6.3MB), and a streaming version.

Another Update: Quick music, editing notes:

Thievery Corporation was what happened to be in the car as we drove home. I grabbed some video clips out the window as Al drove and found myself sort of moving the camera to it, and imagining shots with it, so when I got home it seemed right to just put it in a loop on iTunes and see how it would help the composition. I wasn’t sure I’d use it as a “soundtrack” until I watched the first rough cut and realized the music was making some of the scenes look different to me in a really good way… as if I’d found some iMovie filter that gave me “subliminal slo-mo.”

The shots of Ben in the train and the slow, well, I guess you’d call it a dolly shot along the Max stop at the square were taken after the event. We rode the Max back to the parking garage a few blocks away because Ben digs Max rides, but we walked to the square before the pillowfight started. Once I had all the clips in front of me, though, I decided to turn the whole thing into a “coming, seeing, going” narrative, so through the magic of the movies I just added a train ride to the beginning, too. And I liked the people standing in the fluorescent light as mood establishers, so they got stuck in the front, too.

On the one hand, “The Little Digital Video Book” makes me a little uncomfortable with its heavy emphasis on editing and even staging the occasional reverse angle shot after something has happened. On the other, the author has a point: video’s malleable and there’s no harm in taking a little advantage of that now and then. I mean … as long as you aren’t showing Arwen fighting at Helm’s Deep or something.

If I ever decide to pick it back up, I’ll take more care to tease out some of the identifiable people in the pillowfight and rearrange their clips so they move through the composition more rhythmically.

Another Update: Much better self-hosted streaming version here. (streaming Quicktime)

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