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StephenT [userpic]

28th September 2006 (01:28)

Something I've been thinking about doing for a while is writing some 'sleeve notes' for my vids, explaining the thought processes that went into each one. And perhaps mentioning some of the things I'd do differently if I re-did them, or things that I don't think worked as well on screen as they did in my mind beforehand (isn't that always the way?). 

Perhaps first a quick word about how I got into this in the first place... Up until just over a year ago, I didn't have the faintest idea such an concept even existed. A friend on RPGNet posted a link to one, and I was just blown away by its wonderfulness. As far as I can remember, it was sdwolfpup's La Résistance!, so now you know who to blame for my own efforts...
 
Anyway, I spent several weeks eagerly downloading everything I could find, and all the time this little voice in my mind was saying "I want to do this too!" So after much struggling with strange software and tearing out of non-too-plentiful-anyway hair, I began work on my first vid: When Did The Light Die?.

Vidpic


 
'Troy' by Sinéad O'Connor has always been one of my favourite songs. It starts out quiet and plaintive, then gets angry and passionate. It's also got the cute little device of stopping halfway through, then starting again, which I've liked ever since I heard The Pretenders use it in 'Talk of the Town' back in my misspent youth. (The only other song I can think of that uses it is 'All I Really Want' by Alanis Morissette). Most importantly for our purposes, the song's lyrics tell a story, complete with very vivid imagery. This was still early days for me - thoughts of concepts and metaphors and allusive references were still in the future. I was going to match scenes from Buffy and Angel directly up against each line of the song, and that was it... although I did at least have the sense to realise that I should concentrate on a single character or two instead of picking scenes at random. :) 

But who? The first scene to form in my mind was, naturally enough, around the caesura moment (is that the right word?) I mentioned before. The lyrics here are:

I'd kill a dragon for you
And die.
.
.
But I will rise
And I will return
The Phoenix from the flame.

The visual to accompany 'I will rise' had to be Buffy's hand emerging from her grave in 'Bargaining'... what else could I possibly use? So that was my first thought.
Next, I began puzzling over the opening verse. Here, the relevant lyrics are:

I remember it,
Dublin in a rainstorm at night.

Unfortunately, Buffy isn't set in Ireland, but sunny California, and scenes with rainstorms were rather thin on the ground. Snowstorms we could do - making this an 'Amends' video? - but I was stuck for a long time over rain, before thinking of Faith's dream sequence in 'This Year's Girl'. So that was clip number two: and we had a vid with Buffy and Faith in it. Hmmm.
That was when I had my epiphany moment: there's another line fairly early in the song:

We were so young then
We thought that everything we could possibly do was right

...and I realised that this perfectly summed up Faith's "Want. Take. Have" and "We are better" attitude in season 3 - and the way Buffy went along with it, before realising the folly of such an approach to life. And then I thought about the wider meaning of the song as a whole. Here's the singer reminiscing about a relationship she had when she was young and innocent... how it went wrong and "the light died", they quarrelled, the other person went off with another woman... but the singer's love and passion never went away: and may even have been returned, even illicitly. That seemed to sum up the Buffy/Faith relationship perfectly for me, and so, gradually, an overall story arc for the vid emerged. It would be Faith thinking back over her relationship with Buffy, and wondering "when did the light die?" Which also gave me my title. 

I did wonder if I should make this a "Faith & Buffy" vid or a "Faith/Buffy" vid... in the end I decided it would be best to leave their relationship ambiguous, and let the viewer decide. :) (My thoughts on the nature of their relationship in the show are perhaps something for another post) 

With the overall structure in place came the process of assembling the clips and slotting them into place - which took a lot, lot longer than I thought it would, and often made me curse the choice of a six minute long song for my first ever vid! It happened in stages: I'd spend a few days working on it, then leave it for a while, then come back to it. Anyway, here are a few thoughts on specific sections of the vid: 

The opening is very slow and quiet. Too quiet... (Sorry.) The song's introduction is long enough to get a credit sequence over it, rather than leave this to the end. We fade up to see Faith in her hospital bed, over the lyrics I remember it, which sets the scene: she's dreaming about the past. 

Originally, I had the clip where her eyes suddenly start open at the end of this sequence - but it was too fast to fit the slow, dreamlike quality of this opening sequence, and also made it look as if the following scene was actually happening rather than being her dream. 

I was quite pleased with the picnic scene, which fit well with Sitting in the long grass in the summer - although when I re-watch this I can't help thinking that Sitting in the short grass in the autumn would fit the visuals better. :)  Incidentally, the clip of Faith and Buffy making a bed together just as the lyrics say every Restless night is a deliberate shout-out. "Faith and I just made that bed." 

We then go into the weapon-shop scene from 'Bad Girls' for the all-important line We were so young then, we thought that everything we could possibly do was right. This, incidentally, is a scene I think works best only if you know the context - Faith's "Want. Take. Have" speech and Buffy's "I'm getting it.". My non-Buffy-fan beta viewer was a little confused by the mood shift and the sudden appearance of knives... 

From Buffy holding a knife to her burying it in Faith's stomach shows that things are no longer innocent and happy. I was quite pleased with putting Faith falling off the building and getting carried away in the truck together with and we moved, stolen from our very eyes... and I wondered where you went to. Then we get Buffy staring after the departing Faith, to the sound of the vid's title line - And tell me, when did the light die? Of course, in the show she's upset because she's just lost her chance to feed Faith to Angel, but in the context of the vid she's upset at breaking up with Faith so violently... Unfortunately, there's a slight jerk in this scene caused by splicing together two separate clips to get one long enough to fit the lyric, which annoys me every time I watch. 

Next comes Part II of the vid. Faith rises from her grave, angry at Buffy's betrayal. I'm pretty happy with most of this, although the scene of Faith torturing Wesley is perhaps out of place - I was looking for scenes with her burning things (There is no other Troy for you to burn) and this seemed the most obvious. It might be better if you imagine that it's Buffy, not Wesley, in that chair. :) Next we have the big confrontation between our estranged couple - here the thing to remember is that And I never meant to hurt you - I swear, I didn't mean those things I said is Faith thinking back about what she said to Buffy, not her thoughts at the time. 

The next verse, where the singer is asking Does she love you?... Does she hold you like I do? gave me a bit of a problem with genders, until I realised I could mentally swap the person being addressed. So, in the song Sinéad is asking her ex if his new lover loves him like she did... in the vid, Faith is addressing the question to Riley and asking if Buffy's serious about her relationship with him. (And it's a good question... does she love him? I thnk the clip where Riley grins at Buffy and she can only manage a reluctant, forced smile back is very telling here...) The bodyswap scene that accompanies Does she hold you like I do? was slowed down in an attempt to make it look intense rather than violent - and of course it ends with the soulful gaze into each others' eyes rather than Faith-in-Buffy punching her counterpart in the face. :) Remember, this is all dream-memory of Faith's. The reality is Buffy in her grave; their relationship is dead. 

Or is it? 

Just as the song's music stops dead for a moment, I blank out the screen before showing Buffy emerge from her grave. This was actually quite tricky, because the clip length just didn't match the song. In the end I had to use a freeze-frame on the hand before starting the next scene, which I thought worked pretty well. Next we get Terminator Buffy, risen from the grave and hunting Faith down. This was the bit I was most proud of myself for at the time (beginner, y'know)... I had the scene of Faith running through the graveyard, but then I realised that if I cut out the frames from the end of that sequence (where she looks behind her at the pursuing Buffy) and moved them to the start, not only did they fit seamlessly, but now the line you'll see me return would have Faith looking back exactly at the moment that Sinéad sings "you'll see me". Well, I was pleased. 

The next part was trickier... I was stuck here for a long time, and I'm still not sure it works all that well, since I've stuck together scenes from several different episodes in an attempt to make them look like one continuous scene. (Perhaps next time I'd play with lighting or tints to geta more continuous feel). Also, the lyrics are full of references to holding and touching, and finding material of Buffy and Faith holding and touching each other in a non-violent way was far too difficult. (Why aren't there more such scenes? I'm sure they would have been immensely popular with a large section of the fanbase :) ). Of course, after finishing this vid I watched several Buffy/Faith vids by other people and saw all sorts of scenes I'd forgotten about, and which would have been perfect for me. Oh well. 

I do really like the scene I've got for every look that you threw told me so, though - the B/F dream from Graduation Day is one of my favourite moments of the series, and it just fits here.
And finally, we have the song's long fade to the end. The lyrics weren't really distinct enough here to vid to them, and after puzzling over it for a while I used the long clip of Buffy and Faith dancing together. Since it was a little too long by itself to hold the interest, I added the vignettes of earlier scenes from the vid to break things up. 

Finally we have the ending, which is another bit I'm pleased with. We have the dance slowly fading to Faith in her prison cell - which, in reality, is where she's been all along - and that beautiful calm smile on her face is captured by a freeze-frame which I then fade out to a blank screen.

...And that was my first vid. Also, interestingly enough, my most popular - even now, a year after I made it, it's still being downloaded twice as often as any of my others. Not sure if that's a reflection on the song I used, or the popularity of Buffy/Faith in fandom. (Now part of me wants to make a Buffy/Spike vid next, just to see if the download numbers shoot up even higher...)

Comments

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 29th September 2006 09:36 (UTC)

Thanks - I'm listening to it now, and it's good.

No promises on the vid front though - like I said, it takes me an average of months to do these things. (Not full time, obviously).

Incidentally, I can just imagine Spike making up that Yeats poem to be about Buffy - at least if he were a good poet and not a bloody awful one... Probably mid-season 7 , with "taught to most ignorant men most violent ways" being a reference to training the Potentials. "Simple as a fire, With beauty like a tightened bow" is a good description of Buffy when she's in Slayer mode, and while "high and solitary and most stern" may not be her true character, it's certinly the aspect she often presented to him...

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