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Vid: Grave

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Title: Grave
Song: Grave (Digger Mix)
Source: Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Artist: Hungry Lucy
Vidder: Lizbetann

Note: Image at end from Jeffrey Thomas, part of the "Twisted Princesses" series.

Download link (MP4, 199.8 MB): Grave, Sleeping Beauty

Extensive notes below:

Death of the Author Theory holds. What I intended, what I say I "did", is not any more valid than anyone else's interpretation. I'm just supplying my own thoughts (lengthy, lengthy thoughts) and what I had INTENDED to do. Whether or not I did that is up to the viewer.

The first thing I remember about the development of this vid was babbling at WiliQueen at VividCon a few years ago. I said, "I want... I want to just show her hand reaching for the spindle over and over and over again."

Val said, "Do that."

The vid kept hovering on the edge of my consciousness, going through so many variations that it dizzied me. It was going to be a scathing indictment of the violence we glamorize for our children! It was going to re-Grimm-ify the Perrault-ed Disney versions of fairy tales!

Jetpack Monkey proposed a horror vid show. He wasn't trolling for vids, but I thought this one would suit his show nicely. We discussed it to heck-and-gone. He proposed a three-movie structure, similar to his "Club Foot", which uses three Vincent Price/Roger Corman collaborations from the 1960s to tell one story.

Once again, this vid went through variations like mad. Sleeping Beauty/Beauty and the Beast/Snow White. Cinderella was more of a rom-com, so no, but could I get Tangled in there? How could I handle the very different looks of the source? What *was* the story, actually?

That last question is what finally drove me batty -- but also drove the vid. What was this vid? Was it a story? Or was it just a nightmare?

Slowly, other concepts fell by the wayside. Recognizable content from other fairy tales, grabbed and imported into Final Cut, sat unused. The fact that there was visual continuity between Aurora, Belle, and Snow White running through the forest, something that I thought would tie together the sources, had no place.

I IMed Nate pretty much constantly. "OMG!" I said. "I just realized. There's no Prince. The Prince is a dream. He doesn't exist."

The last day before premieres for vid shows were due, I finally buckled in, went head-down in the vid, and put together a cut.

Dianne, who will watch 15 versions of the same thing and give me good critique on all 15, gave me still more good critique: It didn't jell. The horrific images didn't make sense out of nowhere. She'd heard me babble endlessly about this, and still couldn't get what I was doing.

So I sucked it up, told Nate I had failed to make the deadline, and was leaving him with a hole in his show. He was kind. However, he explained, patiently, in very short words, that if Grave didn't show in the Premieres show, there would be hell to pay.

I put the vid away for about three weeks. A week before Premieres were due, I pulled it out again. Vid marinating is wonderful -- it gives you amazing perspective. I showed it to Nate (who hadn't seen it before I put it on mothballs for the show), who said it was creepy as all get out and he would have taken it as it was for the show. (Wibble. Wibble. Well, I knew it wasn't as good as it could be, so it was better that I hadn't, but, you know. Wibble.)

Dianne and Nate both said that the horror images needed to be highlighted in a way that made it clear it was what Aurora was dreaming. Dianne suggested matting them inside the swirly frame used elsewhere in the movie, to indicate they were separate from reality. (Actually, I *think* she was suggesting something else, because she said later that what I did wasn't what she had planned. But she liked it, so yay.)

(BTW: A simple shape matte over a background movie? Is really, really easy in Final Cut. I was scared, and it turned out to be both fairly straightforward and really sharp looking.)

The final version of the vid is substantially different in terms of clip placement than the version I had done (left undone) in April. The iconic hand-reaching-for-spindle image I timed to hit on "Life's blood" in the song, which made it happen too early ("blew your wad too soon on the spindle"). I changed it for it to touch on the first instance of the word "grave" and suddenly the entire first verse was now in synch, and told its own story. The mattes and additive dissolves over Aurora's face as she sleeps tied together the external "nightmare" source and our sleeping beauty for the second verse.

And then the third verse -- that one never changed once I got it laid down. Prince Philip charging in to the rescue, killing the dragon, running up the stairs to the princess, waking her with a kiss... blissful perfection.

Snap. Back. Aurora asleep. Aurora climbing the steps to the spindle again. Maleficent laughing. Everything in a loop.

The last image, on the "pop" of the soundtrack, was supposed to be Jeffery Thomas's Twisted Princess image. Except... it didn't work. It was too short a moment to really display a complicated image, and (since I had never ended up using any footage of "peasant girl" Briar Rose) it didn't fit with the rest of the vid. I tried an early shot of Aurora lying on a bier. I tried nothing (and that was the version that Dianne betaed before I sent the vid off to VVC). At the last minute, I used an image that had been cut when I had drawn out the reaching-for-the-spindle bit, of Aurora lying on the floor, crown spilled from her head. It supplied the gut shot I wanted, the final image of her.

In the end, the vid isn't about anything, particularly. It's a nightmare, where you think you are escaping, where you think you have escaped, and then it all starts over again.

Sweet dreams.