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Monday 5.9.05: Obsession

I've swung now from being uselessly restless to being obsessional. With all my feedback in hand, I'm entering into the final revisions and polishing of "Mission & Magic" for the zoo. In this phase I have moved from having to force myself to keep butt-in-chair to having to force myself to get out of the chair.

The fun part is that all the big creative decision-making is done and approvals bestowed. Now it's a matter of applying my craft and racing to the finish line. The decisions now are about making the production pretty, and less about reading the customer's mind.

The frustrating part is that my craft doesn't always measure up to my aspiration. I love problem-solving and learning as I go along, but it drives me crazy when I know there has to be a way to do something but I can't figure it out or find it in a book somewhere. I also worry that, as I challenge my skills, I will leave the realm of simple good taste and go completely cheesy. I worry that the final product will look like those local car dealer commercials with twirling transitions and half-baked special effects.

Yesterday was a completely glorious spring day in Rochester. The lilacs are starting to bloom and the air is full of sweetness. But here I was, in my chair, pulling my shade halfway down so I wouldn't be bothered by the light (i.e., the gorgeous blue sky glowing through the tree branches). If my eyes drift right I can see a couple birdfeeders. I finally went out and filled them, because I couldn't stand watching the chickadees fly up, then fly away in disappointment. I forced myself to drive to the bird store for more seeds, simply to breath the air. Then back to my chair.

I wound up spending nearly all afternoon on 18 seconds of the 4-minute production. My clients love the crowd scenes but I need to blur them so that people aren't identifiable, which makes the footage look, well, blurry. My clients also love seeing their animals. I got the idea of having some animals appear in an oval in the middle on top of my blurred zoo visitor scenes, one in each quadrant. A montage. Five things happening at once on the screen. Was this clever? Or was it a variation of something I'd seen on Zoo Parade in the 1950s?

Getting the quadruple visitor footage all lined up was one issue. Getting my animals to behave was another. In this project I learned the skill of stabilizing a wobbly camera (what happens when you are shooting a telephoto of an eagle with a handheld camera), but when I tried to get this eagle into my center oval, the eagle was stable, but the oval wobbled around it. What the hell? It was only late last night, after I abandoned my eagle for a tortoise, that I discovered a solution.

When I finally got my 18-second montage working, I was still not sure I hadn't spent all afternoon on a jumbled piece of crap. I asked Jim to look at it. He was viewing it in the editing program and was disoriented with what was happening on the screen over and above what was happening in the video clip. He was frustrated that I didn't explain. I was frustrated that he didn't have immediate access to my fevered intentions. We finally decided the clip was not complete crap, but seeing it in the context of the rest of the piece would be more enlightening.

Obsession. Another day begins...







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