On the Cutting Room Floor of Oblivion - 2 Years Later
On July 30, 2005, I published the most challenging video I've produced to date: On the Cutting Room Floor of Oblivion. It all started when I got the song "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung stuck in my head. I had a discussion about Wang Chung's music video for this song with a younger coworker who had never seen it. It was hard to explain to him the jitter effect in the video, so I thought I'd shoot a few quick shots and recreate the jitter effect myself. What started out as a simple, quickie video to amuse the guys at work, turned in to an undertaking of epic proportions for me. Instead of sticking with the very basic original premise, I was driven to take my (quickly shot) footage and wrap it up in a trippy visual presentation, filled with strange imagery and animated oddities.
What I initially expected to take me a few days to complete, ended up being several months of hard work on what I've dubbed The Digital Editing Deck of Doom. Needless to say, I didn't exactly have the right video tools to make this kind of production, but figured out ways to do things with the limited, glitchy, crash-prone video editing application I used.
Although the video ended up being far more than I initially set out to make, it also fell short of what I had hoped it could have been. I didn't have the right tools to create some of the imagery I wanted to do, and I ran out of time in the end. My life was getting very busy and I had to basically cut and run with what I had. I never got to complete the giant eyeball sequence that would have preceded the ending credits. I had been planning on making the credits a lot more entertaining to watch, but had to go with the rushed sequence that's in there. The imagery seen in the background of the credits is actually some of the very simple background footage I originally shot and had intended to put in the video when I first started out.
The production process was a difficult one, as I mentioned. Several times, weeks passed by where I wouldn't touch the project at all. It frequently kept me awake at night with ideas and imagery popping in to my mind as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Like a junkie going back to a destructive drug habit, I would open the project back up, attempt to make the Digital Editing Deck of Doom work for me, and try to pull those images out of my head and put them in to the video. I also suffered a fair amount of what I call "creative constipation" with this project. Writers get writers block, I got backed up creatively at times - not knowing what to put in there and sometimes, just not knowing how to put things in there, given what I had to work with.
The day after completing the video (about two days before publishing it on my website), I screened it for some coworkers via projector in the conference room. They enjoyed it, some very enthusiastically. I was very happy when upon completion of the short two and a half minute video, I was asked to play it again, and then again after that. It felt good finally being done with the project. I had been dying to show it off to people for so long. A big weight had been lifted from my life. It may sound strange, but that video had become like an obsession to me. I knew if I completed it, I would rest easier at night.
After such an enthusiastic reception from my coworkers, I had high hopes for an internet audience. There was kind of a retro-80's vibe going on and this video was loaded with 80's - from the song, to the retro-tech look and style of the video. I believed it might get some good attention.
I notified my internet friends know about the video once it was published. They seemed to love the video and me some great comments. I also sent a link to InternetVideoMag.com. That wasn't exactly high-end promotion or anything, but I thought it might get the ball rolling and word-of-mouth would do the rest. Unfortunately, not much was happening and the video was only getting a few hits a day. I posted a link on a fairly popular links website and it got a couple hundred views there, but that died down quickly.
A day or two after the link website posting, Aaron Williams posted a link on his Henchman Publishing blog (this link is his actual posting - the link to my video is at the bottom of his article). He had some very kind words to say about my video and it ended up getting a couple thousand hits as a result of his linking to it. That felt great - finally my hard work was being seen and admired... well, at least seen. That is all any artist really wants - is for their hard work to be seen by others. The increase in viewers was short lived and within a week, it was back to just a few hits a day.
That's about it. I had high hopes and expectations for this production to wow audiences. I really thought it would attract some attention and perhaps even be one of those things that would be passed along from person to person via e-mail (they call that viral video these days). It did almost nothing. Most of the people hitting the video via web searches were finding it by mistake, instead looking for video on the upcoming game "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion".
So much hard work and I failed to draw in much of an audience. All those months of doing battle on the Digital Editing Deck of Doom. All those sleepless nights. My obsessive insistence that I actually complete the video, even though nothing was working right most of the time. I guess it just wasn't very impressive to today's audience. The video is very impressive considering the shoddy tools I had to work with and that I did EVERYTHING myself (minus the music). It's amazing I was able to make it appear so, dare I say, professional looking? I am not a professional filmmaker. Most people don't know about the limited tools I have to work with, and probably don't care. Compared to today's film and TV standards, my humble little video is very lack-luster. It would have been a far more impressive sight to see back in 1986, when the song "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" was topping the charts and this kind of animated video would have been considered "break-through". I'm sure even MTV would have wanted to air the video back then. But in 2005, these visuals just were not cutting edge stuff. Perhaps the song may be considered silly by today's internet audience, many of which were not yet born when that song came out.
Though this video remains my personal favorite of all my productions to date, it has also been my greatest disappointment. It simply failed to impress the masses. That kills me, but people dig what they dig, and this video just ain't it.
I doubt I'll ever take on another production with this level of complexity again. Certainly not without proper tools next time. I probably won't go there again though anyway. I got this out of my system. I had always wanted to produce a video with techno-geeky imagery and bizarre animation. Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" is my favorite music video of all time. Although not intentional, I am not surprised that my video resembled it a little when complete. Not in content or technique, but in the sense that it was mostly just a head-shot with strange and cool animations taking place around it. I had been wanting to do something like this since the 80's. It wasn't until recent years that I had the tools with which to do so... well, actually I didn't have the (right) tools, but I figured out ways to make use of what I did have. ;-)
Even though my video failed to attract much attention, it did seem to impress most people who found their way to it. I was pleasantly surprised when I received an e-mail earlier this year from Jack Hues himself, sharing some kind words about it. I posted what he said in the comments section of the video page (which I haven't updated with new comments in several months).
Thanks for reading and checking out On the Cutting Room Floor of Oblivion. I hope you enjoyed it. If you know of anyone who may find this video entertaining, please pass along a link to a friend or two. I'd appreciate that. :-)