The making of another promo

The making of another promo

This particular video is entirely in German with no subtitles — sorry about that if you don’t speak German, but that’s just the way it is.

It’s another promotional video for the upcoming YouTube gathering in Munich, and it’s another one where I asked lots of people for contributions. However, there are two big differences.

The first difference is that while the other was made in the style of a thriller, this one is an attempt at a screwball comedy. The second is that instead of writing a screenplay beforehand, I simply asked people to provide a few seconds of them doing something silly. I suggested a self-parody if they could come up with one, but anything at all would be acceptable. My challenge, then, was to somehow make a coherent whole out of more than a dozen contributions.

I was at the mercy of the contributors. The only thing I scripted was AericWinter’s narration, but I could only script that once I had put the film together. Obviously, I knew what I was going to do — a reference to my famous shampoo/conditioner movie. Beyond that, the only concrete suggestion I made was to speedyconkiwi, whose “Learn German with speedyconkiwi” series is well-known outside of German YouTube. I asked her to recreate her “1 to 10” video, but to get stuck at eight. I had expected her to repeat the 8, as the gathering is known as 8-8-8 (for the date), but she didn’t. In the event, it didn’t matter much.

Contributions trickled in, many much longer than the requested 5 to 10 seconds, but that was inevitable. PalpitatioCordis, who missed out on the other trailer, immediately apologised for sending a serious clip having not read my message properly — she does the James-Bond-style bit in the middle — but, as is often the way, her contribution fits perfectly, and actually looks quite witty in context.

Once again, luck was on my side. As far as I know, nobody had consulted anyone else about what they would provide, but with Schwammtopf’s bathroom scene, my fussing over shampoo and PockhuhnFilm’s skit, the theme of getting up in the morning and getting ready for the gathering automatically presented itself.

For me, a really fascinating aspect of the exercise is how the right context can lift something out of the mundane into the realms of true comedy. PockhuhnFilm’s werewolf skit raised a chuckle, and tavin15’s hair is quite amusing; cut together, though, the whole is funnier than the sum of its parts.

Have you ever seen a movie in the making? Here’s what it looks like in my video editor:

Screenshot of video editor (62kB)

That’s pretty complicated for something as deceptively simple as a bunch of clips jammed together. I used seven tracks in all. Here’s a close-up:

Screenshot of part of video editor showing tracks (62kB)

The first track is the main part of the video, each little box representing one clip. Below that is the soundtrack for each video clip: you can see where I have removed some of the sound completely. Track 3 is for the titles and credits; track 4 contains the narration, all chopped up to fit with the video. Track 5 is the background music: the red line governs the volume, as it ducks down in behind the soundtrack and commentary. Track 6 contains the logo that appears superimposed on AericWinter’s hand, and track 7 contains a couple of sound effects.

The hardest part to get right was the end, where AericWinter had to announce the names of the biggest stars as they appeared on screen. Both he and muserine had supplied clips which had them talking more or less from beginning to end, making it harder to fit everything in. In addition, honigmaeulchen’s clip had come supplied with a piece of music by her boyfriend’s old band, which was, well, loud. Initially, I had thought it would be nice to have the sweet, happy background music brutally interrupted by a totally contrasting piece of music, but when he saw a rough cut, xOREGx thought it just didn’t work — and it was hampering my efforts to get a coherent ending together. So I ended up ditching that piece of music.

I juggled with the order of those final clips for a day or two, eventually settling on speedyconkiwi, honigmaeulchen, muserine, xOREGx and AericWinter. I’d have preferred not to have separated them by gender in that way, but it was the only order that really worked.

And that, basically, was that. And a pretty decent piece of work, even if I do say so myself.