Video editing is not something that I do regularly, and the little experience that I do have has been on a Mac with programs such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro. Thus, doing an editing project using Adobe Premiere forced me to learn all over again. What made this movie trailer remix project less daunting, however, was that it actually sounded like it could be really fun– and for the most part it was. The movie that I chose to remix was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (link to YouTube Trailer), an action/adventure/sci-fi superhero movie, and manipulated it to create the trailer for a new movie I’d like to call X-Men: Origins of Love, a romance/drama film.
The reason for choosing this specific movie to remix was rather uninspired, as it was one of three that my suite-mate would let me borrow right before class on the day it was due. Regardless of the mediocre movie choice, I was determined to make it work. Since I perceived it as just an action thriller with a shallow plot, there should be many different directions I could take it. My first thought was that the easiest way to transform the film would be making it a sappy love story between a few of the characters, but after re-watching I realized that nearly the whole premise of the film was Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) searching for his lover–this made the direction a little less straightforward. So to truly transform the movie into something else I had to make key additions and omissions to flip the genre.
Starting the editing process was definitely the easy part: Mark In, Mark Out, Drag, and repeat. I pulled down every little part that I thought could be in a trailer, and it made me feel like I was on a roll! Then came the organizing. I had so many good clips, but how to arrange them? No idea. For a start, I began to look a little more critically at the genres of the actual movie and the one that I wanted to create. I narrowed my vast set of clips into another subset by taking clips that had some signifiers, using Danesi’s notion of semiotics, of the romance genre and leaving out the ones that primarily still supported the sci-fi/adventure signifiers. Possibly the most critical part of this transformation is that it leaves out all of the superpowers that the characters have. This was necessary because there was no way that people could take the trailer as being seriously different if one of the characters shoots lasers out of his eyes. Signifiers that I wanted to include were ones of affection and romantic drama between characters, which were typically in the form of close up shots. According to Bernard Dick, these shots highlight the emotions of the characters rather than the surrounding actions. In an action/adventure film, these types of shots are not used very frequently, but I was able to scrape enough together for the trailer.
After arranging the clips in a somewhat comprehensible mash-up, incorporating audio was the next challenge. I did not really know where t get started looking for music to accompany the trailer, but I got the idea from another classmate to use a trailer for a different movie for the audio. Thinking along the lines of romance/drama films, The Notebook was a pretty clear selection, and somehow it just seemed to fit with the clips that I had already assembled. Piecing together bits of the narration and the music track created the audio for the majority of my trailer, but there was still a big chunk missing throughout the middle. Since this section was a little more dramatic, I put in some orchestra music that was a little darker, but consistent with the other sound in the video. Similar to Klosterman’s notion of laugh tracks as manipulative media, it becomes clear that the music selections that are made for these trailers are another way of manipulating the feelings of the audience. We force them to view and listen to the message we are sending in the way that we want them to. If the way we present the media was not manipulating, then this project would have been impossible– we could not change peoples’ existing views of the movie.
With all the video and audio in place, the final stage of editing was adding audio and visual effects/transitions to make for a smooth presentation. This was were I ran into some rough spots with the program. The first issue I encountered was that when I added a transition to a clip, it would include more of the clip than I had actually put in. I had to constantly cut the clips and alter the duration of the transition, which became quite tedious. The audio transitions proved to be even more difficult, as they had the same issue as the video transitions and I could not figure out how to effectively adjust sound levels to make everything go smoothly. Ultimately, I realized this was a losing battle and it is probably the weak point on the trailer. On a more positive note, however, it was very interesting to see how changing the music and video transitions altered the overall feel of the trailer. I slowed the pace down from the original trailer and used mainly fades to make it look more like a trailer for a drama film.
Overall, this project turned out to be far better than I had originally anticipated. For all the mayhem surrounding Premiere, I was a little psyched out before even beginning, but after forcing myself to sit in the lab for a few 2 hour sessions (note to future students, this is necessary), I was able to finish pretty easily and it ended up being quite fun. What was possibly most interesting about this project was seeing how naturally themes emerged from prior course readings such as signifiers and cinematic techniques to convey certain genres.