Digital Blehs of the Afternoon

Editing is my favorite part of making films and videos. I even like old school editing with actual strips of 16mm workprint, and destructive linear 3//4″ to 3/4″ editing. But for most of my career we’ve had fancy computer editing programs. I remember when they first came out video art went through an awkward phase of computer editing overload. Every effect possible was used, to the point where a serious look at race or class could be upstaged by a constant fly in transition to another interview subject. I mostly avoided that phase, primarily because I was broke and taking advantage of the fact that the last few linear editing suites were dirt cheap. Generation loss be damned, I was making a 5 minute video for roughly $80.

But I really do like the way editing has changed with technology. When the technology works it’s a pretty intuitive process. There’s a lot more freedom. People compare it to the leap between typewriters and word processors.

That being said, ten hours of editing inevitably involves two hours of troubleshooting and two hours of rendering. If you’re really good it might be a smaller ratio, but you will always always have to spend some of your time tinkering around with settings and so forth. If you want a predictable workhorse, old school editing is where it’s at.

But I kind of like the inevitable problems. It’s like a puzzle.

Unless you have a deadline in four hours and are beginning to suspect a process circle is just an “ahhhh! I don’t know what to do with the program!” circle.

I’m transcoding some video, and when I read the manual for the program I’m using it said something along the lines of “Don’t be surprised for this process to take a day or more depending on your computer.”

It’s like rendering.

Rendering takes a really really really long time. Or it used to, I don’t know if it’s better now. I used to set my video to render and then walk away for an hour and drink coffee and smoke with my film school pals, and the ever suffering intermedia students.

Intermedia students had the shittiest program at Emily Carr. It was a grand idea, but since they never had priority for various media classes they ended up not being able to learn a lot of things, like 16mm film. I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine used to try to compensate for being in crap Intermedia by signing in for twice the allowed number of editing hours by using the name Maya Deren.

She was nervy, that’s for sure. She did it for two years before anyone noticed. How an art school can overlook Maya Deren using the editing suites is beyond me. You practically get assaulted with a print of Meshes of the Afternoon as soon as you walk into the film department. The second film print they whack you with is Un Chien Andalou, which has some creepy misogyny in it and I still get grossed out with the razor and the eye scene.

My friend Elaine and I were having a beer once and talking about film and she said “I know we’re supposed to like Peter Greenaway and oh, he’s so amazing blah blah blah, but he is FUCKED UP about women, it is so creepy! Why do we have to like this guy?” I love Elaine.

It has been two hours and only seven minutes of video have been rendered.

Well, I think I’m nearing the end of this video process, so I should go do other computery things to it. Here’s scenes from Meshes of The Afternoon and other Maya Deren clips set to Aphex Twin care of YouTube.

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