Silence in the Moulin Rouge

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Video Assignment

Return to the Silent Erads106 assignment worth 5 stars

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.

One of the best sources for music is Incompetech or the Internet Archive. For the title cards, try a google image search

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.

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 :P ).  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.

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