Video Project: The Sound and the Fury

Here is my completed video.

Reflections on the creation of my video project:

This is my first attempt at making a still-image video with background music.  It took many hours to complete because I was totally engrossed in searching for tutorials, downloading images, and listening to lots of great original music as part of the process. I used an older version of Windows Movie Maker that came with my computer years ago. This presented a problem, as I wasn’t able to work on it in class or get peer feedback.  Finding tutorials for my old program was nearly impossible, but I could usually figure out what I needed to accomplish from tutorials of newer versions.

The assignment was to create a short, video advertisement for a book. I chose William Faulkner’s 1929 classic novel The Sound and the Fury. The novel is written in a stream of consciousness style which moves the story quickly along a very non-linear path.  My audience is comprised of readers who began the novel once before and were scared off by the often confusing time-line and prose. By focusing on Caddy, a main character who never tells her own story, I hope to narrow the novel’s focus long enough to capture the attention of those readers once again.

I began the pre-production process by brainstorming descriptions of novel’s characters that I wanted to portray in my video. Next, I narrowed my choices of characters down to three; Caddy, Benjy, and Quentin. Then I paraphrased the plot of the novel as tightly as I could. Finally, I wrote a script of single sentences that I could include on my slides. Ultimately, however, I let the images speak for themselves as much as possible.

The tone of the novel is one of economic, moral, and familial doom.  I see it as being portrayed on video as cold, gray, and lost in the past, just like many of the characters. I used Creative Commons images of some beautiful cemetery statuary that I downloaded onto Flicker from Compfight. I followed Creative Commons’ guidelines for citing images that I shared.   I imported my images to PowerPoint where I was able to write text onto the images. I made a few text- only slides, using PowerPoint’s “Apex” template, that has a slash of light running through it. This effect helped recreate the silent movie feel I was attempting to mimic. I used four different fonts for the text; AR Decode, an elegant, undulating script, to express a personal, conversational tone (like telling a secret); Book Antiqua for a newspaper effect; Elizabethan Script, a simple rounded script, for Caddy’s signature on the young girl statue; and Baskerville Old Type for the text on the ornate iron fences. Maybe for my next attempt, I’ll create my own font out of ice cream sticks, like Jeanne Verdoux (New Media Design 43). Luckily, I found a tutorial explaining how to upload a PowerPoint presentation as individual slides on Movie Maker.  The trick was to change the format to a PNG (Portable Network Graphic) file where it says, “save as type.”

Once I had uploaded my PowerPoint images to Movie Maker and dragged them into the time line, I chose the special effects for each one. The drop-down menu at the top is easy to navigate for including special effects and transitions:

  • For all of the text-only slides, I used the Old Age Film effect which I further distorted by using the Brightness Increase effect.
  • For the edited images, I used the Film Grain effect to make them look like old photos.
  •  I used the Pan Out/Zoom In effects liberally throughout to give the effect of visual story progression.

I used several different transitions to serve my purpose:

  • The simple Fade transition worked best on several slides.
  • An interesting transition I used to simulate Benjy’s confused state of mind was the Spin. I used this transition to spin the previous image into the hands of the little girl holding the leaf.
  •  I used the Circle transition for both the fence images to mirror circles in the iron fence.
  • I used the Diagonal, Down Right transition because it perfectly meshed with the Brightness Increase effect I used on my text-only slides.
  •  The Wipe Normal Right transition worked well for the young woman image with text that was presented in two columns.
  •  I used the Reveal Down transition on the path through trees image to move the eye down from the text to the detail of the image.
  • Finally, I used the Dissolve transition to move into my citation credits slide.

The most difficult part of the project was choosing and synchronizing the background music.  In a silent video, the music is equally as important as the images. I found the track I used on Free MusicArchive.org. I tried several searches to get an olde-tyme, southern feel that echoed the era of the novel,1929. Then I easily uploaded it to Movie Maker using the Upload Media option. I had some difficulty timing the music to the images until I expanded the timeline out far enough (just click on the + or -) to be able to fine tune it. I chose to continue the music in black-out for several seconds at the end to emphasize the demise of the Compton family . I was pleased with the result.

I enjoyed making my video and learned a lot in the process. I will definitely be making more videos, hopefully with a newer program. I’m encouraged too, that once one has the tools, like Jeanne Verdoux says, creativity basically involves the “eyes and mind to observe the world we live in. . . [then] using technology to concretize my ideas” (43). Rereading her description of the creative process (pen, paper, and hundreds of storyboard images) reminds me of how impatient I can be when working on even a simple computer design project consisting of twelve static images. Next time I would like to experiment with movement in my video project that, as Tricia Austin and Richard Doust explain, “unfolds over time and allows the designer to play with rhythm, pace, and narrative” for a stronger emotional impact (45). Time, or the lack of it, is the key word at this phase of my studies, and I would have to argue with Lev Manovich on his insistance that computers are a fast and efficient method of digitally drafting complicated compositions (21).  But, I will admit that I’ve certainly created something beyond my “unaugmented human intellect.”

Austin, Tricia. and Richard Doust. New Media Design. London:Laurence King, 2007. Print.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. 1st Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

Manovich, Lev. “New Media from Borges to HTML.” 13-25. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds. The New Media Reader. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. Print.

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Posted on March 17, 2012, in ENGL 539 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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