Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Find Wally

I've always been amused by the easter eggs producers put in their show. I've been doing that in the shows I produce too. Sort of my idea of social re-engineering. In most of the programs I edit, I like to play Find Wally (Waldo in the U.S.).

In current show I'm doing, I had a few cameo shots of myself in there just for kicks. I had my hand in one episode. I see the trill directors like Quetin Tarrantino and M. Night Shyamalan (did you know his full name is Manoj Nelliattu Shyamalan? I wonder if anyone calls him Manoj on the set) get by appearing in cameo appearances in their own movies. It's just something fun to do I guess.

Another easter egg I have in the current program I'm editing is the songs I used. They're all from a certain era. Actually, the idea wasn't really mine. I didn't do the first episode so I inherited the rest of the show, concept and treatment from another producer. The first episode had a song by ABBA and I thought it would be a fun continuity if we had songs from the same era. Something cheesy to play through out the whole season.

Some episodes didn't have any songs at all. Some of them just didn't fit in any of the songs that comes to my head. Some of the songs just came to me in an instant. One of the episodes had a bulletproof vest, the song I picked was Pat Benatar's 'hit me with your best shot'. Another one was about a business woman, I thought about for one whole day and I finally remember hearing the chorus of this song:

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

It was an old feminist song by Helen Reddy. I thought it was fitting. Putting the songs into the show puts a smile on my face. I wonder if anyone out there actually gets it. Doesn't matter, I get it. I let the lyrics tell the story of the person in every episode.

I have to becareful in picking songs. I have to google and wikipedia each song before I use it. Some songs may sound innocent but if you read about the history of its origins, it may mean something totally different.

For example, I love listening to Peter, Paul and Mary. Their song Puff The Magic Dragon is a popular children's song now. However, back then a lot of people assumed the song was about smoking opium. You know... chasing the magic dragon smoke.

Then there's also the song by the Beatles, Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds. Lennon claims it was a drawing done by his song that inspired him. A lot of people thought the song was an acronym for LSD. Whoa... way out.

Another type of Easter Egg I've always contemplated putting in is a flash frame. How this is done is by putting in a one frame shot of something totally not related to the current sequence of event on screen. In the movie, Fight Club, Brat Pitt slots in one frame of pornography into a cinema movie reel. It goes by so fast people are not sure what they see. I found that really amusing. No, I won't put any porno on national TV.

Me and most of my colleague can notice a one frame difference. We've been editing visuals so long, we know when just one frame flashes. We call it a jump cut. In the PAL video system, there is 24 frames in one second. So it's pretty fast. To the normal person, it looks like an abrupt flash. It's harder to detect when it's between two different sequence. Often, this is edited in by mistake. I see a lot of colleagues (including myself) replacing a shot on a tape and marking the wrong out on the timecode by one frame. They accidentally leave in one frame from the old shot.

When I do Quality Control and watch someone's editing, I look out for stuff like that. Most of it makes me laugh, I don't get angry because I make the same mistakes too. Learning to edit is one of the hardest thing any broadcast journalist has to learn. It's more of an art than a science. Easy to learn the basic, takes forever to learn how to do it well.

Now... I wonder what easter egg I can put into the last episode I have to edit. This should be fun.

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