The dawn of cinema had no audio; silent movies created an atmosphere with music and the use of cue cards. Take a 3-5 minute trailer of a modern movie and render it in the form os the silent era- convert to black and white, add effects to make it look antiquated, replace the audio with a musical sound track, and add title cards for the dialogue. As a prime example, see Silent Star Wars.
This is one of the assignments that I chose to do the preparation work on in Week 10. I found it was harder than I expected to find Moulin Rouge clips online – the copyright hounds have been hard at work for this movie. I did, however, manage to find a great little scene from when Christian and Satine meet. The scene and the conversation are both filled with complete confusion, and is definitely a classic from the film. I love how the setting of the movie already creates a feel of the era that I’m trying to capture for this assignment – the silent film era.
For the music, I wanted something bouncy and old-timey and fun, to capture the feel of the scene. I went to Incompetech as the assignment page suggested, and downloaded Betty McFaddin’s piano piece.
For the title cards, I did a google image search, also as suggested in the assignment description. I scrolled through the images and selected the one I liked. I saved it to my working file on my computer, and then went on to take a look at where the card came from. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Google had lead me to ds106′s own Michael Branson Smith‘s blog and Return to the Silent Era Assignment post! I decided to stick with my choice, and send the appropriate nod of appreciation to the fellow ds106er in my blog and in my credits.
Next came the task of trying to figure out how to actually put this thing together. I began doing research, and began to get frustrated with how much can be done with video on a Mac, and how little can be done on a PC. Finally, I went to twitter, and browsed the #ds106 hashtag. Eventually, I found that fellow ds106er Lauren had used Windows Live Movie Maker to make her silent era clip.
— Lauren Strayhorn (@laurstray20) November 12, 2012
Thanks, Lauren! I was literally about to give up on the project completely and start a new one, despite the prep work I’d done on this one.
So I downloaded Movie Maker (and opted out of all of the 5 million other programs it tried to give me ). I had already shorted the YouTube clip (which I downloaded using the KeepVid KeepIt button I put on my browser toolbar), using MPEG Streamclip, to get just the parts I wanted. I uploaded the music into the video, created a Title page and ending Credits, and uploaded the blank silent movie title card from Michael Branson, and copied and then pasted it a bunch of times so I could have it available each time I split the video.
I already had the script out, so I zoomed in on the clip and began hunting for the appropriate split moments, and inserted the blank title cards there. I used Viner Hand IT font, just to be different and fun. I also made the clip black and white, and changed the ratio to 4:3, because in one of the assignments I’d reviewed, I had read that this was standard of the silent movie era (I admit to having no idea whether it’s true or not, but it looked neat when I tried it, so I kept it). I regretted not being able to do more to the clip to make it look old. Stupid Windows. But whatever. Do what you can with what you’ve got, right? Finally, I went through the final video and found the clips where there was only dancing and no talking. These I sped up to 1.25x normal speed. I was surprised to see how ridiculous it looked any faster than that, and pleased with 1.25x.
I had about 5,000 crashes of Windows Movie Maker while trying to make this. I learned to save literally after every click. ‘Select font, Ctrl+S, Type, Ctrl+S, Split, Ctrl+S…aaaaaaaaand crash.’ *sigh* It was beyond frustrating. Still, it deleted my credits with no explanation, and I had to redo things several times.
My husband never ceases to be amazed at the kind of craziness that happens with electronics when I come near. But I knew going into this class that this was going to happen, and did it anyway. So it’s my own fault. I made it through, eventually.
And I think it turned out half decent, at least. Not bad for a first go at this, anyway.