Phew, this took a bit longer than expected, but it's here!
A new post in which I shed light on the creative process after dumping Draft One of AJ's trailer. I'll be updating the OP.AJ Entry 2: Plant Our Tiny Seeds
with proper care and sunshine
the PMV it feeds...
Thus the AJ video was killed and I was sad. Undeniably sad, since I had already put so much effort into it. Scared too, realizing that this was the first time I dropped something so consciously and after so much work. What if I didn’t reach that level I wanted to? Do I need to drop the song altogether? What kind of song should I pick then?
It was a radical choice, but really the only choice. I wasn’t happy making draft one and if I’m not happy making something I see that reflected in my work, so every time I see my work I’m reminded of how I’m unhappy I am with it which in turn affects how I work, feel and act until
This is something I’ve only recently learned about myself. Pony videos! A look into one’s soul!
Fortunately, I don’t like lingering on issues like this and instead of thinking too much about fitting it all together I went with a more instinctive approach, making it up as I go along. I would find a way, I always do... somehow.Rebuilding The Core
The initial draft was flawed at the conceptual level and thus required some digging. In short I was making Shine Like Applejack. Rarity’s trailer was still very much in my head with its bold visual language fitting our favourite four legged fashionista.
AJ though isn’t Rarity. She’s hard working, dependable, helpful, down to earth, western, modest, proud and a “mite stubborn”. She has no real need for showing off or being the center of attention.
So I needed to flip a switch in my brain.
What kind of visual language would fit Applejack? Are there any sources of inspiration I could seek out?
“Western” was a good place to start, since they’re a filmgenre and provide a lot of music I could use.I particularly like the expertly paced westerns of Sergio Leone which allow the viewer to take in the scene. They move slowly, but are at times the most intense viewing experiences one could ever have.
That DNA was among the first elements I introduced to the mix and in my head I started to connect the dots and formed a story of sorts:
It’s late in the day and after a long day of work AJ’s relaxing under a tree like she did in Fall Weather Friends. But trouble is afoot! Rainbow Dash yells “Stampede!” and Applejack looks up (Lesson Zero), signalling a shift and starting off the video.
With Sergio Leone of course comes Ennio Morricone and he was the composer I gravitated towards when looking for music. I was looking for something slow and light. Something I could construct slow pans and zooms on.
After a short search and plenty of suggestions by some very helpful people I stumbled upon Night in the Desert
, from Two Mules for Sister Sara. I was in particular interested in 01:40 and onwards, which could provide a great opening.
I played with the music, trying to combine the song I already had with Night In the Desert but found that there really wasn’t a way to smoothly transition from the slow beginning to the high energy everything else. The change was jarring, too abrupt I felt and would provide the viewer no space and time to adjust to the new pace. Plus it didn’t feel like Applejack. Subjective, I know, but I’m going with instinct here.
Instead I needed a slower, steady build to transition from Ennio into the inevitable climax.
Around the same time there was a discussion about music on a certain IRC channel. Kid Koala came up and I was reminded of Slew Test 2
0:13 and onwards was exactly what I was looking for. The song has a very unique vibe with its march like pace, retro voice samples and wailing guitar. It even includes a ton of scratching which might not immediately bring to mind “Western”, but I liked the idea of combining these new school elements with old school ones. Kind of what the song itself does.
Sergio Leone scratched, a Spaghetti western remixed, AJ the modern cowpony.
The mix was getting tasty.
So with a general idea I started laying the foundation of the video, taking into account the lessons I’ve learned from Shine Like Rarity:
This here is my whiteboard, it includes an (old) shot of the timeline, a list of the shots that’ll be in the video and a couple of ideas for future shots. I update this whenever I have a section done or whenever the timeline is updated.
As you can see Pinkie Pie is thinking hard about what’ll happen in section 7. It apparently involves “ding ding ding ding ding ding*...
While setting this up I thought of ways to visually play with Slew Test 2. With the excellent riff and scratches in my mind I made the connection with Micheal Gondry. What I ultimately want is to create an audiovisual experience that’s more than the sum of its parts and Gondry does exactly that with Star Guitar and Around the World.
I’ve expressed my sheer desire to do something Gondry before and I figured “why wait?”
Thus Gondry was introduced to the existing mix of Remixed Applejack with a dash of Leone and Morricone, creating a well defined creative sandbox in which I can play and develop.
There are no huge lingering conceptual issues plaguing the back of my mind and I can just sit down and get things done.
So far then the process has been far smoother than the first draft and I’m far happier with this than I ever was with Draft One. Next to that I’ve picked up After Effects for all heavy duty motion graphics work, set up a smooth workflow and have danced not once, but twice in my seat (the default sign that you're on to something). One time I actually stood up and danced around my room for several minutes (the default sign that you're on to something times ten).
Thus continues the story of AJ's trailer! I'm not sure what the next entry will be about. I'd like to shed some light on the more practical side of things like After Effects work.
If anything I'm happy.