Over the last two years on this course I’ve met many people I wish to continue to know, and I’ve learned a lot, despite Covid-19’s best efforts and my Final Major Project is meant to be the combination of everything I’ve learnt, I think it is.
The idea of my Final Major Project came from watching a movie, the movie in question was ‘Megamind’ released in 2010 to underwhelming mediocrity. The movie itself I (along with a large amount of critics that reviewed the movie) believed that it’s a masterpiece in breaking down the SuperHero/SuperVillain dynamic, but there was one scene in particular that inspired the entirety of my project, the scene is the ‘Presentation’ scene (as seen below)
The idea started with the basic idea of ‘SuperVillains have really good showmanship’ this quickly developed into the initial idea of ‘What’s the difference between Villains and SuperVillains?’ a rhetorical question that was going to be the focus of my Final Major Project and what I wrote my FMP proposal about and around, but the idea didn’t stay like this, as I started to to write my script however it developed into more of a dive into what makes SuperVillains Super, where I dived into the aspects of SuperVillains such as common themes between them, similarities between SuperVillains and Villains and “Villgonists”.
“Villgonist” was an affectionate term I use to refer to Villains who are also protagonists, the “Vill” taken from Villain and the “gonist” taken from protagonist, the alternative that I initially thought of instead of “Villgonist” was “Prolian” and I didnt think that it worked all that well so I dropped it. I’m also sad that I couldn’t work “Villgonist” into the final script more, It only made it two times.
One major risk with this project that became apparent to me very early on was that due to the nature of me not needing to film any footage for my Final Major Project there is a fairly high chance that I won’t get a distinction, and I fine with this as I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t have been able to make something as good as I have I was doing something else, I know my strengths and I think that this project played to them, but there was another reason I chose to do a project that didn’t require original footage, Covid-19. I’m a sceptical person and back when we were assigned to come up with our pitches for our Final Major Projects the situation regarding Covid-19 was uncertain and I didnt want to be in a situation where I was stuck at home unable to make my proposed idea, so I thought it was best to play it safe and go for a found footage documentary which later evolved into the video essay idea. Hindsight is twenty twenty and I would say that I wish I didn’t play the safe card but as previously stated I still firmly believe that what I’ve made reflects on most of my experience on this course due to Covid-19, which is research and theory with little practical practice.
I started by looking at video essays namely by ‘Leonardo Da Sidci’ (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCujjLOPLW92zVBlhaL8wxPg) and ‘The Sin Squad’ (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNpkJ9sQUkmXoFrXBwi7XxA) whose respective channels focus around the ‘Video Essay’ genre and where massive inspirations to me throughout the entire process. I wanted to emulate an inbetween of the two channels styles in my project, having a calm tone and backing track (like Leonardo Da Sidci) but with more active visuals (like The Sin Squad). I also wanted to originally have videos playing in the background of my video essay but I later decided that it made the project far too overwhelming to look at so I opted for a static yet colourful background (as seen below)
In terms of background music I decided to go with ‘George Street Shuffle’ as thought it matched the relaxed tone of my voice. I didn’t come to a decision on what song I wanted to use until I had completely finished the editing, as I wanted something that went well with the whole video and even complimented it, and I believed I achieved this with Kevin’s ‘George Street Shuffle’. I also decided to go with instrumental over vocal as I believed that if there was a second voice playing under my one it would make it more difficult to understand, as I know I struggle with multiple different audio sources due to a hearing disorder, so I thought instrumental was best for accessibility.
For one segment of my research paper and for my Final Major Project I talk about ‘Queer Coding’ which is when a character is given characteristics and/or attributes typically associated with ‘Queer’ indivituals. For this segment I mainly focus on ‘The Joker’ so to make sure I knew what I was talking about I watched The Sin Squads ‘Lego Batman’s subversive Qu33r Coding’ (https://youtu.be/FWzY5d9G5mI) and I also read a thesis by Zina Hutton who was a student at The Florida International University (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjStpeB39jwAhUlx4UKHfdQCsAQFjAAegQIBBAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdigitalcommons.fiu.edu%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D4756%26context%3Detd&usg=AOvVaw0i63SLlx2wUQmK0pOzQzPj ) who in 2018 wrote a thesis on the queer coding of DC Comics’ Joker, I learnt alot about both queer coding (and its effects on both media and the people who consume it) and The Joker through this thesis which I reflected within my work through using The Joker as my prime example of queer coding.
One very useful thing I learnt from The Sin Squad is the existence of ‘The Seduction of The Innocent’ a book written in 1954 by Dr Fredric Wertham a German American psychiatrist who had a vendetta against comic books. The Seduction of The Innocent (https://archive.org/details/fredricwerthamseductionoftheinnocent19542ndprinting) is a four hundred page book that I found difficult to read, but read the whole thing and learnt something very important, people in the 1950’s were far less exposed to realities such as murder, theft and complex characters so much is evident in Dr Wertham’s book as he believes that a woman watching her husband being beaten to death and screaming out “stop! I can’t stand it anymore!” is getting some level of sexual pleasure from the experience (as seen on page 181 of The Seduction of The Innocent), either he was completely socially inept or he was trying to twist a scene in a comic book to be perverted. As you can probably tell I harbour some strong feelings toward Dr Wertham.
Naturally for my research I had to spite Dr Wertham and read comic books namely “Batman. Dark Knight Triumphant” (written by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley), “Batman Catwoman, The Wedding Album” (Written by Tom King), “Batman, Death of The Family” (written by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion), “Batman, Endgame” (written by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and Fco Plascencia) and “Batman, White Knight” (Written by Sean Murphy). There are two things that all of the previously listed comics have in common, one, they’re all Batman comics and two they all contain at least one scene each in which it is either heavily implied or outright stated that The Joker loves Batman. The Batman Joker dynamic is a part in my Final Major Project that I initially wanted to be significantly longer, but I soon realised that if my project was any longer than ten minutes I wouldn’t have been able to be completed in time so I shortened it, if I had the chance again I would have given myself more time for editing so I could have done a more indepth dive into the topic.
My pre-production for this project is mainly in the research since I wasn’t filming on a set or with other people and Video Essay type videos don’t exactly require a story board as its all pictures and text that I wanted to put together in the editing without pre-planning much in terms of visuals, as I wanted the visuals to match the pace and tone of the voice over and I didn’t have a very specific idea of what that would be like, with the twenty twenty vision that comes with hindsight I should have made at least a rough storyboard as I had issues at some points with what I should put on screen.
I also spent a large amount of this time gathering what pictures, audio and movie clips for the editing, this was a long but fairly mindless process, and resulted in me now having around twenty three pictures of The Joker of which I used fourteen. I also made sure I did not infringe any copyright laws, and I didn’t as what I’ve made is for educational purposes and thus is protected as seen here: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjY8ZGx69jwAhUZ5uAKHTQJC-UQFjAAegQIBBAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gov.uk%2Fguidance%2Fexceptions-to-copyright&usg=AOvVaw3f_scUeAyj_YcboV_c9TVC.
I took heavy inspiration from Leonardo Da Sidci and his video essays when making mine, as I’ve been watching his videos for almost three years now and wanted to sort of pay homage in a way to his videos, with a similar calm monotone voice and have the video end on a more somber note, I believe I achieved this in my Final Major Project.
The script for my Final Major Project was an incredibly important part to get right as I believe that the final product should show all the research put into the project, and while I am happy with the script it was a very long process taking the better half of a week to complete. The script went through many iterations initially it was going to be less serious and have more jokes, but I quickly felt that the jokes came across as either far too niche to be understood by a wider audience or too ‘in your face’ and almost lazy, another iteration of the script was far more detailed, but it was boring and complex, so I thought the best course of action was to make a more simplified script that had more subtle visual jokes (such as the recurring “Many” joke in which when I said many the text on screen had many many’s) or on the times when I say “Well” as a segway a picture of a well appears on screen. But I made sure that the jokes wouldn’t distract from what was being said and I believe I was mostly successful in this the only exception in my eyes being the first time the “Many” joke crops up, as there are also multiple other voices (Harley Graham and Gareth Edwards) that say “Many” and I believe their voices don’t mesh well with the monotone voice that I use throughout, I should have either dropped the audio or asked them to have a more monotone tone.
I also had issues in the being of the script writing process (as seen on my website here: https://jharper.90bloopers.com/the-script-making/) I found It difficult to structure the script and both how to make it sound like a person talking and still be informative, I had a creative block for an hour or so before looking back at my research paper and realising that it was much more like a script than my script, so I used parts from my research paper in my script which helped to jump start the rest of the process, of course (as detailed earlier) it didn’t immediately help me in the pacing of the script. I wanted the script to have a smooth pace to it, this meant making sure that no one area was seemingly covered in too much or too little detail which did take some tinkering to do but I believe I managed it and I also wanted to make sure that no change to a new topic felt jarring, I wanted each topic to blend together almost like colours, I think I was close to doing it seamlessly but I also really wanted to make sure the audience didn’t feel as though I got off topic, so I made each new topic be announced and I frequently re-asked myself if I was finished to help segway to a summery or new topic. Overall I believe what I did (in regards to transitioning between topics) works really well, but at the cost of me not getting to do the seamless transitions I wanted to do.
As stated earlier (in The Idea section) this project was inspired by the movie ‘Megamind’ and in particular one scene (https://youtu.be/k7xy7gFH0lI?t=45) I wanted to put the part when Megamind says “Presentation” in as a nod to what inspired the project, so I knew I wanted presentation to be a major part of my script and this slowly developed into revolving the whole “Presentation and Showmanship” section around ‘Megamind’ and since I love the movie so much I found it easy to write about, but it did end up being one of the main parts of the script that was cut down, but I still believe that it was the right choice as because of it the script flows a lot better.
My Production wasn’t every eventful, I sat down one afternoon (Friday 14th of May 2021) and recorded all my lines, but I do wish that I properly listened back to my lines as there are many points were my voice goes almost silent or I didn’t properly pronounce a word, I did manage to save it in some places in the edit but some weren’t savable. Otherwise it was a sort process and in all honesty I can’t really write more about it.
Editing in this project took a lot longer than expected, taking four and a half days to complete, but I believe that this time and effort shows in the finished project as it turned out exactly as intended. But I would be lying if I said that there weren’t any difficulties along the way.
One annoyance when editing my project in Premiere Pro (version 14.9) was that whenever I wanted to change the audio levels for a track it would automatically start the process of making a keyframe sequence (when you make two frames with changes between them and Premiere Pro automatically fills in the frames between them) with the audio thinking I was going to make the audio steadily increase over time when I didn’t want to, I couldn’t find out why it was doing this, perhaps just a glitch with version 14.9 but that’s just assumption.
In my Final Major Project there are segments where there is just text on screen, in some of these segments the text moves more and/or is positioned in more interesting ways (example below)
This was inspired by “Kinetic Typographies” a genre on YouTube in which the visual elements are a sort of fancy and interactive subtitles, this is usually done by fans of bands or musicians (example here: https://youtu.be/ogsbUiSY2TU) I wanted to reference this less mainstream genre within my Final Major Project and it also served to keep the visual aspect more entertaining outside of movie clips and pictures, but as I got further into the editing and as time started to run thin I stopped doing these segments as they where very time consuming, I wish I didn’t have to but I was starting to get close to the deadline so had to stop doing them.
The editing process was very draining to do, as I hadn’t made a storyboard I had no real guidance in places, and while this was fine if not brilliant in most areas there where sometime when I would no idea as to what to put on screen which caused me to not beagle to edit other parts as I would start to obsess over the area I left blank. However this lack of storyboard also helped me to better come up with visual jokes (such as the “Many Manys” recurring joke) since I felt under no pressure to keep to a storyboard, since there wasn’t one.
There are some fun (or at least I find them fun) details that are in the visuals of my Final Major Project which are, at 00:39-00:45 when I state character’s names they appear in the background for a second or so before being covered up, I do a similar thing again at 04:36-04:41 where I am listing attributes of The Joker I use “The” to segway to each attribute and so it stays in the background but on the last attribute I use “And” instead so in the background “The” changes to “And”. At 03:21 I used a picture of Dr Wertham (famous for hating comic books). The picture in question is of him reading a comic book. I did this as I thought it was funny, having a picture of someone adamantly against comic book reading one. At 02:40 the title “Queer Coding” comes up and its made out of the (current) Pride flag I made this by using twelve custom mask effects one for each letter plus one for the tittle on the lower case “I”. At 00:52 there are pictures of Loki and Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe originally the text above them said “Brothers” but I later changed this to “Siblings” as I remembered that Loki is gender fluid (As confirmed in the comics when Odin is talking to all of his children and refers to Loki as neither his son nor daughter: from “Original sin” a Thor comic published by Marvel Comics in 2014). From 01:10 to 01:13 I list the common connecters for Heros and Villains, I use “Or” to connect each one and for the last time I say “Or” a picture of an “Oar” comes up as a sort of visual joke. At 01:57 for one second “Thyme” moves across the screen whilst I say “Time” this was a jab about how “Thyme” and “Time” are pronounced the same but mean two very different things, immediately afterward at 01:58-02:00 there are two versions of the word “Society” with the only difference being a “2” on one of them that falls off in a way that is meant to be like it falling off its hinges, this was done as a jab at how little we’ve changed as a society. There are many more visual jokes and details throughout but I’ll spare you any further insight. As you might be able to tell I had a lot of fun working in these jokes, details and jabs.
One more major issue I had with the visual mediums (particularly pictures and movie clips) was that some images and clips where significantly better quality than others and I should have made certain that all images where up to the same quality, and similarly with the movie clips but this was difficult to do as I dont have the best internet and sometimes the quality would drop suddenly or wouldn’t be up to scratch, if I had more time this wouldn’t have had been an issue as I could afford to spend a day or so waiting until my connection was good enough for long enough to get clips to the best quality. Speaking of internet.
I genuinely struggled to frequently update my website there are a couple reasons why but one of them is that I have terrible WiFi causing difficulty in online lessons as it was hard to keep up with the lesson and when it came to posting on my website, as my WiFi likes to spend more time not working than working which I found very frustrating early on to the point where I gave up on updating my website for a long stretch of time, luckily in the past two or so months it has steadily been improving.
But when I did finally have the drive (and WiFi) to update my website I quickly organised everything to make sure that it was easy to navigate, using dropdown menus. But on at the top of each dropdown menu (if clicked on) will lead you to a page that has “buttons” to each page on the dropdown menu, I did this because when in class one day I saw one of my teachers struggle with operating a dropdown menu, clicking at the top of it instead on hovering their mouse over it, so I added the buttons to make sure my website was easier for less tech savvy people to navigate.
All in all it was a fun if not stressful experience that if I were to ever do again I would definitely do a lot differently. I hope the effort I put into this project and in fact the past two years shows. I really wanted to go all out in the research and editing as I believe those are my strong points and in some ways I may have gone overboard, looking back on it I don’t think that reading all four hundred pages of Seduction of The Innocent was a particularly bright idea, but I digress.
I in all honesty felt that in my projects this year I didn’t really show off my expertease as I always worked in a group we would all almost always fall into our default roles, and I was usually always acting and so I didn’t get much of a chance to direct, operate cameras or work on pre-production and because of this going back into a solo project was more than a bit jarring and I found it difficult to get started and manage my time effectively.
But as a final note, I hope that this project shows my strengths to their fullest, and now that this final Final Major Project is over I can get some sleep and relax a bit.