atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#921: Captain Fantastic

So I was going to make a copy of Captain Fantastic (CF) for my boss.

CF is a movie (er, "video") that some friends and I made in 1991. Patrick and I were talking about making movies Monday night, and I mentioned that CF will be 20 years old in 2011, and it would be great if I could finally get the raw footage dumped into the computer and edit it in the PC, with new titles and all-stereo music and real scene transitions.

The present version is all-analog, edited using an "A-B roll"--hook VCR A to VCR B, and swap tapes and do other things as needed to get the video pieced together.

If I want to make a "master" tape, it ends up being a 1.5-hour ballet which takes about 7 hours to set up for: get music ready, get sound effects ready, hook all the equipment up, etc, etc. Start recording, start playing the edit, and then work like a club DJ. It's not hard but it's complex and time-consuming, and I haven't made a new "master" since 1991 anyway since I need an audio mixer to do it. I don't have one; at the time I used a friend's 4-track recorder as a mixer.

The current "edit" has some bad scene cuts and other failures, and I could do a lot better with computer editing. I could also precisely set where I want music to begin and end, and do other things such as add fancy scene transitions. It needs a new title sequence (both OP and ED) and a couple of the fight scenes could do with a bit of editing.

Anyway, so he told me, "When you do that, shoot me a copy." I told him I could do that now; so I made a note for myself to make a copy of it.

In 2002, Walgreen's had an ad in their weekly flyer: they'd transfer 2 hours of video to a DVD for $30. It was a good deal, and I knew I wanted CF on DVD, so I jumped at it.

Tuesday evening, then, I sat down at the computer with the DVD in hand, intending to use the "disk copy" function of my writable disk software to copy the disk.

...of course, the DVD+/-R/RW/CD-R/RW/WTF drive couldn't read it. It just made weird grunts and groans for a couple of minutes. So I hooked a DVD player up to the DVD recorder and--of course--did a good old "A-B roll". *sigh*

The video quality shouldn't suffer much, if at all, and I used the S-video port just to keep degradation to a minimum. This made me a disk which can be copied by the computer, so all is well.

Why this particular disk is unreadable in the computer, I don't know, other than the fact that if it were, that would have been too m-f-ing easy.

As for the movie, it's still funny to me, even though I've seen it about 85,000,000 times.

Doing a "digital remaster" of the movie by 2011 will, hopefully, not be beyond my capabilities. All I really need to do at this point is get some kind of reasonable video editing software. The software I have is junk, and probably won't work under Vista anyway.

But I've transferred the video to DVD+R, using my DVD recorder, and I can pull it into the computer with ease; this way I don't need to buy any hardware to digitize the video.

I've got an Iomega Buz, though, and the software for it was pretty easy to use. It took fourteen hours to render a 30 MB MPEG into a smaller Quicktime file. (To be fair, though, this was ten years ago, and I was using a Celeron 333, which is practically an abacus next to the multi-core, multi-GHz processor I now use.)

The edit of the video is just the first part, though. I know what needs to be fixed, and with the precision of digital editing it'll be easy to trim scenes by the frame if need be; the second problem is the music.

I have several tracks of classical music which are musts for this production, but I've only got them on LP. CD is probably out of the question for these unless I can accept different versions--and I'd rather not do that. But I can surmount this hurdle pretty easily, too.

The third problem is that some scenes just aren't complete; we didn't shoot enough video that I can "rescue" them from looking crappy. I can fix a lot with selective editing but I can't change the fact that we really needed this or that additional shot to really make the scene complete. But, what the hell: it's an amateur production, not a Hollywood blockbuster (though it SHOULD be!) and the roughness of some scenes lends a campy air to the whole thing.

The movie itself is meant to be parody of the superhero genre, and on that level the technical deficiencies of the production values don't really matter. It's just that some things could have been done better if we'd tried.

Also touching on this point is that the primary director of the effort, Keith, at first tried to do all the editing "in-camera", as we shot the film--so some cuts, while rough, can never be corrected without re-shooting, and that won't happen for a variety of reasons.

So even with digital post-production, the movie will never be "slick" or "professional". But it'll be fun to watch, even so, and very easy to duplicate.

Heck, maybe someday I can post it somewhere.

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