ASCII by Jason Scott

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A Little More Front, for Context —

It occurred to me to mention a couple more things about this video shoot from the previous entry. People who are shooting stuff might make assumptions about how I did it, and those assumptions might be quite wrong because I didn’t give information out. So, here we go.

  • The video cost me roughly $50 to shoot, because most of the infrastructure was already in my possession, such as the camera/av equipment, set and props. I’m already shooting a film, after all, so this was something shot entirely on the side while the “main” production was going on. If I’d had to rent equipment and a location and decorate it and all that, it probably would have been around $3,000-$5,000. This is my case for re-use of available materials! Cost included lamp oil (no kidding!), and beer and gas and so on. All minor stuff.
  • I did roughly 10 test screenings with various people, to get feedback. Shots were removed and others added based on this. One glaring example was that I did a “shaky-cam” shot with Frontalot rapping that I liked and which I thought really fit in. Nobody else thought this, they all thought it looked amateurish and crap. So out it went. On the other hand, I had one of the crew (Oliver) note how there was a lack of a computer screen shot during a sequence when it really could use one. When I threw one in, it was like watching gears engaging. That was Oliver’s doing. So while I’m the director, and likely the final word, all ideas did not spring from me; they sprung from many other folks.
  • I have watched this video over 500 times. I would just let it run and contemplate it, see where it felt smooth, see where my mind hiccuped watching it, watched just the background, just his eyes, just his mouth, and so on. Nothing beats careful study of the actual thing you’re working on. This approach is also why the BBS documentary took 8 months to edit.
  • There are shots of Frontalot typing at an Apple II from the Apple II’s perspective. To get this shot, I removed the monitor, mounted the camera low on a tripod, zoomed, and stuck a really thick book underneath the Apple II so it was aimed up at a ludicrous angle. I.e. the entire thing is unbelievably faked up. It’s amazing how much you often have to fake stuff up to make it look “real” on screen. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I sometimes wonder how much nascent filmmakers see things and try to do it like they think it’s done, instead of how it’s actually done.
  • I am a completely spastic director working with people towards a goal, in this case, to be lip-synching to a rap song. I can hear myself going nuts on the recordings as I’m shouting out directions. A lot of this was just to not waste Frontalot’s time, but when you’re in the heat of trying to make stuff seem spontaneous, you say whacky crap.
  • There were three people helping me on the night of the shoot, and three others who helped clear out the space for the set. So that’s six people (plus Frontalot and myself) working on this project directly, plus the dozen people who were given the opportunity to give feedback about the project. A good project is almost never done as a solitary project, if you expect it to interface with other people.
  • I have now had G4/TechTV, Deth Vegetable, MC Frontalot, and Mark Hosler of Negativland in my basement. Someday I’ll let them out!

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  1. Deth Veggie says:

    It isn’t so bad. I have fashioned a hut out of Apple LISAs and a Commodore PET. At night, when the ice weasels come, I am generally able to fend them off with a club I have constructed out of a DEC Rainbow keyboard.

    – Veg