New BTTM Video: “End Of The Decade Blowout!” + Analysis
Thursday December 31st 2009, 1:05 am
Filed under: Better Than The Machine

It’s the end of the decade and everything from Y2K to Tiger Woods must go! Say your goodbyes to the “noughties” and welcome in the “teens!” It’s Better Than The Machine’s “End Of The Decade Blowout” extravaganza celebration!

This is not the third video from the recent NYC Reid trilogy of sketches that I’ve mentioned, which included the past two videos (the Hanukkah video and the grammar video). The plan was to post that third video this week, but I kept mulling over how this week’s video would be our last video of the year and of the decade. The third video we shot out in NYC didn’t feel like it had the sort of gravitas I wanted for a last video of any sort.

So I came up with this idea. It seemed like a good way to cram a lot of stuff into a short video, and it also got around the problem of everyone being out of NYC for the holidays, and my not being able to send a script to them and saying “film this!” I couldn’t film anything myself, either, because we’ve decided to try to be HD as much as possible, and I do not have an HD camera, or access to friends who might have one in Denver. The idea of using preexisting media got around that issue (though I’ll admit, there are clearly some low, low resolution pictures).

I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I’m really quite happy with getting to say I directed something this year. I sort of fell out of love with the idea of directing anything, but after reediting the “How To Iron A Reid Levin” video, I was sort of reminded how much fun it is to make something out of truly disparate parts, or out of nothing. I especially like making what I call “Photoshop jokes,” so I really enjoyed making stuff for this, like the Saddam plate and the newspaper dispenser going up into flames. I really like the book that says “What The Hell Is With All These Vampires?,” because there’s just absolutely no other reference to it and you’d have to freeze it to read it and I do wonder where all this vampire love came from recently, and where it was a few years ago.

So all that stuff turned out well, but I got started working on this a day or two late. I will fully admit to being the one who broke our nearly 100% weekly video on Mondays streak this year–and on the last video, even! Between getting brain chemo, pitching this to the group and even just figuring out how to put this thing together, I think I started panicking on Saturday about it not being ready for release on Monday. My mom helped in just extraordinary ways by building a huge library of photographs and putting it at my fingertips. Without her help, the video would certainly have been released much more than a day late.

I had a version ready to show on Monday night, but I really wanted the group (and especially the two professional directors) to take a look at it and give me feedback before I posted it. I got a lot of really good advice from Paul and Ballard and did my best to put it to use. I basically rearranged everything to give it what I hope was better pacing, I messed with the audio channels, I shaved off about 10 seconds, and I added music (which Matt was the first to suggest and with which I again had help from my mom). By the time I got all that done, it was getting to be late Tuesday night and I didn’t want to break my “I will post this on Tuesday!” promise that I had posted all over the place (much to my own chagrin, I realized as the minutes and the hours ticked ever closer to Wednesday), so without showing a final version to the group, I posted it. I hope they like it (eep)! I actually have no idea what they thought of the final version.

There was also one thing I just could not incorporate that Ballard suggested I do. That was speaking faster–I cut out any pauses or breaths in my narration to make it sound faster than it had been recorded, but Ballard suggested I rerecord and actually say it faster. I’ve never been a fast talker and many people have actually told me that since I’ve been on chemo, I speak more slowly and deliberately than I used to. I tend to get my tongue tied up in knots the faster I try to talk, unless I have rehearsed what I’m saying so much that I can do it in my sleep (e.g. forensics in high school). I struggled with the “Take Aim” narration for weeks and weeks and just couldn’t get anywhere close to Ballard’s speed. His narration was great anyway, so it worked out for the best. Compared to me, he’s the Micro Machines Man.

Like I said, though, I’m really, really pleased with how this sketch turned out, I hope other people enjoy it, and hopefully I’ll be able to direct and edit more things next decade!

–Reid.


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