smoking crayolas
words arts movies stuff
May 2009
rockin' on rockcrossing
SmokingCrayolas' entry in the Video Association of Dallas' 8th Annual 24-Hour Video Race.
 
With the Texas legislature in session and the race moved to Memorial Day weekend, this year's Video Race saw SmokingCrayolas' return to the "Guerilla Division" with a team of four members. Also, with three consecutive years racing under their belts, both Jake and Todd received promotions from "Cameo" status to "Core" team members. Welcome aboard, guys!
 
2009's list of requirements:
  • Theme: Misunderstanding
  • Prop: An edible fruit or vegetable
  • Location: A street or traffic sign
  • Dialogue: "...the one on the left."
This year went smoothly... until the end. Our working cut was solidified by 7:00 PM. Unfortunately, adding in sound effects, tweaking the audio mix, and making the opening credits ate far more time than anticipated, and saw us leaving the house at 11:35 with our movie still on the computer!
 
The plan was to export to DV tape in the car, as it's the format we know, and then save to a Quicktime file if we had time. It's a new format for the race, but one we were anxious to try. As we merged onto I-75 headed south, Niki's laptop decided that our DV camera had no power and would not export to tape. The camera was not aware of this fact as it turned on and off like a champ. The laptop insisted the camera had no power...
 
There are times when you have to say "screw the backup" and just fly by the seat of your pants. This was one of those times. With me barking instructions while driving, Niki started the slow, painful process of exporting our movie to an H.264 Quicktime file.
 
It started off well. "Estimated less than a minute remaining..." Who wouldn't want to see that message when racing down the highway to a finish line? "Estimated one minute remaining." "Estimated two minutes remaining." Wait. Isn't it supposed to count down? "Estimated three minutes remaining."
 
Our export time continued to tick upwards as our time-to-deadline continued to tick down. We could only pray they'd meet in the middle. When our estimated time ticked to 16 minutes, there were 14 minutes 'till midnight and 10 minutes from the finish line. It seemed our prayers would go unanswered.
 
As we steeled ourselves to turn in an "out of competition" entry, the estimated time actually ticked down. 30 seconds later it ticked down again! And then again... That's when the entire car broke out in a chorus of, "Livin' on a Prayer" that carried us all the way to the Angelika.
 
As we pulled up to the Angelika, Jake and Todd ran up the steps with Niki's laptop actively transferring the saved movie to a USB drive. Transfer completed while Niki and I parked. Our thumb drive was stamped with a time of 11:58. Two whole minutes to spare.
 
Now... it's time for a confession. The version you see above isn't exactly the version we turned in. It's the version we wanted to turn in. The content of the film itself is virtually identical. The only thing that's changed is the film's look. There just wasn't enough time to slam the footage through After Effects to give it that old-school TV reception feel. Not willing to let that sleeping dog lie, I finished "our vision" the next morning, and that's the version you see above. I've included some pics below so you can get an idea of what the "official race version" looked like, and because some of the visual tweaks don't come through with the image reduced to that small (both images below are clickable for a full-res image).
 

"Official Race Version"
 

"Final" Version
 
Either way, we're incredibly pleased with the way it turned out, and think this one will rightfully earn its place amongst SmokingCrayolas' best films.