Thursday, March 26, 2009

25 Random Things about Instant Videos

1. Growing up, the main way I got exposed to pop music was through music videos. I just loved watching Video Hits on CBC after coming home from school. And I loved the late night Good Rockin' Tonite with hosts Terry David Mulligan and then Stu Jeffries. I would stay up many nights watching one music video after another.

The Instant Video project makes sense when I think about all those late nights...

2. I almost never know what the song or what the concept is for the video until minutes before hand. This spontaneity defines the Instant Video for me. Having even small plans for videos almost always fail.

3. We started this project in September. We're almost halfway through a year's worth of videos now with Instant Video #25.

4. I want to go further with the videos. I'm getting an itch. I'm responding to my own worst critic. I want to experiment more within the Instant Video construct. I want to conceive special projects and self-contained stories. I want to take it as far as it can go.

5. It's a chronological project. With each new video the number increases. Yet, listening to the playlist on YouTube, I often like to randomize the autoplay. Listening to the final playlist would be the ultimate end-result of the entire project. YouTube even provides a way of embedding a playlist player: see below.

6. After twenty-five straight weeks, we are going to take a wee pause from the project to regenerate...a little spring break. Not to worry, we'll be uploading some lost rare gems from the Instant Video vault from years past for those that can't go without their weekly fix.

7. One of the working titles we had for the then unnamed Instant Video project was Post-It Video, in part, to reference the post-its that Tammy writes and sticks to the wall after a new one is done.

8. Making the videos can be exhausting and I'm feeling a little burnt out.

9. Making them keeps me going. Keeps my chops up. I'm always thinking of ways to make them different. Always working. Must. Get. Some. Rest.

10. Only two Instant Videos were shot outside of Peterborough. Most of them are shot right in our living room. We re-arrange our couches every week.

11. We get by with a little help from our friends...big strong light, microphones, other gear used in Instant Videos are mostly from other people. :-) Thanks!

12. An idea for the next phase of Instant Videos is to invite collaborators for key projects. There are areas of art, costume design and choreography that could be explored in future projects.

13. We are also working on an idea to create a narrative serial out of the Instant Videos - a "high concept video playlist" inspired by David Lynch called Songs for Dark Highway. Some funding would be awesome.

14. Then again, there's something simple and perfect about them already. Maybe I'm just getting restless for no good reason. But I ask myself, what do I want to see? Two seconds. That's all I get to catch your attention.

15. The clapboard was shown in two videos: Sweet + Sour and Rolling Stone.

16. If a singer sings in the forest does anybody hear? In other words, do we care if anybody is watching? We'll leave this collection for history to discover. During our growth, feedback keeps us going. Science says the object changes just because it is being observed. I want to focus on keeping it together. Just by watching, the audience influences the progress of this creative challenge. I promise to be frank and diligent in my reporting. This is part of it.

17. I almost spent that $10 bill we used in Money at Walt Disney World in Florida last year.

18. I don't want to stop making the Instant Videos completely until we reach 100 videos and 1 more for good measure.

19. I wonder what the kids will think of these videos when they grow up.

20. The longest video so far is 4 min. and 46 sec. - SHOCKER.

21. The shortest is 1 min. 56 sec. - The Gravity Song

22. The only song in 25 Instant Videos that Tammy didn't write: The Girl from Ipanema.

23. There have been only three videos shot with a hand-held camera: Full Force, My Waves and Is it Alright?

24. The biggest heart in a video so far: Start Over Again.

25. I feel like celebrating. Whoa! 25! It's been a blur. A big learning experience. A big block of time. And a lot of content. Where will it go from here?

He Listens
by Tammy Lin Foreman

I wish I couldn't see
the way they always look at me
they want my body I can tell by their eyes
crawling over my skin like flies
I want to wear my blue jeans boy size
with a straight line drawn from my chest to my thighs
and no dips and curves along the way
maybe then they will hear the words that I say

but I don't mind the way he looks at me
his vision slides so softly (softly)
from my eyes, to my lips and to his hands
ride his body to the grave 'coz he understands and

he listens
to what I have to say

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Constellation of Numbers

You know what it means when a 12-hour download just happens to finish in the morning. You get to have it with your cup of coffee.

Depending on how strong the coffee, installing can be as confusing as Sudoku. First I have to install 10.4.11 to run Final Cut Express. Then, I have to install Quicktime 7. All of this, hours of waiting.

You know what it means to rewind a cassette tape with just the perfect pencil.

Like some kind of slacker archeologist, I manage to rescue a mangled cassette tape using a pair of tweezers and Scotch tape. I get to extract Marless Star from this very limited self release called Songs for Dark Highway / Music for Parking Lots made just after Sunny was born in 1997. Sixteen songs have been lost until now.

You know what it means to have time fly.

I launch Express and it tells me I need more RAM to run the software. So I run some tests. While the kids play outside. It's warm enough.

Yay! It still works! Parumpumpumpum.

I need to refer to Memory - Instant Video #18 really quickly for this next one. I've been waiting for this. Because, in my head, #24 completes the prophecy that Memory foretold.

In the constellation of numbers, Instant Videos are distant stars. There it is! The Sweet + Sour supernova and the My Waves neutron quasar. It's finally mapped out.

You know what it means to need to have a way of explaining things to yourself.

You can see it in the sudden cutaway shot near the end. That's where she grabs the coconut halves from. They're just hanging from the back of the chair.

Marless Star
by Tammy Lin Foreman

they don't care
they toss their hair
won't let it show
still I know

when they're all saying
that it's okay
their laugh sounds funny
it seems so grey
coz everybody is wanting

for their heart
to be held
for their heart
to be held

but I won't say
that it's okay
coz I miss you
in midnight blue

and the sparkles that shine
from your eyes
when you're happier
than the skies

you are a
marless star

and everbody knows it
everybody can see

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She's a little bit country...

...I'm a little bit rock 'n roll. Rolling that Earth globe with one hand and lowering the tripod head slowly with the other... Phew. It's take 17.

I'm not writing this on my usual computer. It feels...different.

First the looper died. Now my computer is on the fritz. It keeps making a painful noise. Making me wince. Each time. I have to get it looked at. Seriously.

The making of the video ultimately killed it. Making the video was epic in Instant Video standards. The computer cacked in mid-compression. We drove to a friend's house in Toronto to borrow a computer with Final Cut Pro that could open the project I've been working on to output a Quicktime file. The video was uploaded from his computer.

I didn't have time to write this blog. This is a project in creation. You are witnessing the birth. Blah. Blah.

Country / City started off as an elaborate idea based on creating a a green-screen dress effect with fancy lights borrowed from another shoot. It got later and later that night. Then Tammy realized that she had to sing the song another way. I started hating the shag rug I tacked up on the wall behind Tammy.

We went to bed.

We had too much time to think about it. The effect didn't work. I needed more instant in the Instant Video.

The next day, I am thinking about the Instant Video "story" as it was told last week. I'm thinking that Tammy was off to space on a blinking intergalactic transporter in Lights Blink.

If that were true... She would see the Earth from space, wouldn't she?

My eye catches the glint of the globe in the attic. The globe is so last minute. But that's somehow "country/city" to me.

The green-screen heart on the banjo is kept in the video as a reminder of the other idea. And hauntingly, the song stays.

Country / City
by Tammy Lin Foreman

You've got a style
a rhythm
That comes from within
and when I see your smile
I can't help myself but grin

Come now
I know a place
out of this rat race.

I want to go off

That's what I want to blow off
Let's go off

I've got a plan to build
a place of my own
no more landlords
calling me on the phone
paying rent is like
throwing money out
I want to live without a doubt

I want to blow it off

Say you will go off with me
Say you will go off with me
Say you will go off with me
Say you will go off with me

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Never Ever Seen Anything Like This

The Looper is really dead. Tammy's been going on the false hope that there was life after batteries. But it's actually really really dead. And we are about to shoot the next video...right now!

Fortunately, she rented another Line6 from Long & McQuade in Brampton when she visited her Mom yesterday. She was hoping to use two loopers for Lights Blink. But now she's gonna have to just make do with one. Well, at least we have one that works!

Last week's video actually really felt like some kind of death. The end title card in SHOCKER even looks like some kind of epitaph.

There's a fraction of me that wants to throw in the towel and end the project right here right now. It's that fraction of me that's tired and with a lot on his mind. The part that just wants to rest in peace for a little while.

Tammy suggests we take a break after #28. But I'm scared that if we take a break - we'll end up killing the project.

Tammy's gung ho. The situation doesn't give us much time to mourn the looper's death. It's late. We're set to shoot. There happens to be a replacement looper. Let's go.

Yes. Magic moments continue to happen. Fortunate coincidences that conspire to create each week's video without too much effort.

Lights Blink very much feels like the Instant Video version of Life After Death complete with Tammy's new halo outline and angel's wing... We've finally crossed the threshold.

And all those blinking lights? Maybe the song is really saying when we die a giant UFO mothership will come and take us away to some twinkle twinkle version of Heaven. All aboard...wheeee!

Lights Blink
by Tammy Lin Foreman

Lights blink blink blink
Lights blink blink blink
Way up high

Lights blink blink blink
Lights blink blink blink
Don't ask why

I've never ever seen anything like this
Never ever seen anything like this
It feels like bliss
It feels like bliss

Drivin' drivin' always arrivin'
Drivin' drivin' always arrivin'

For this week's heart, a strobe light and the cardboard packaging for some new health bars came together effortlessly. And thanks to Geoff for designing the "spaceship window" seen in the opening credits. Brilliant, sir! Hope you like...