- Member: 808-buma
- Title: Blue Ambition
- Premiered: 2005-11-17
- Cure Why Can't I Be You
Original working title: WCIBP - Why Can’t I Be Priss?
Only a dollar short and a few weeks late, but this project is finally done! This video was originally slated for SSJ's Big Character Profile Contest but due to time issues and a vacation that fell right in-between the start/end dates, it never quite made it in at the deadline. Which, I think turned out better as a whole as I did change some items at the last minute to help flesh out the ending (more below).
Why Can’t I Be You by The Cure - edited by buma
Having never really done a character profile before (and from what it turned out to be at the end, I don't think that I succeeded in this goal either, but none the less...), I wanted to figure out a way of telling a story instead of just falling into the trap of just using random shots of said character set to music. I believe that I had this song in a mix of other music I was listening to at the time and thought that it would be perfect for my entry as it wouldn’t just concentrate all the aspects of the video on just one character, but spread it out over the rest of the cast lamenting that they wanted to be more like someone else (the main character). My first choice in anime was…
Bubblegum Crisis Toyko 2040
This is one of my favorite anime series and to me, this one surpasses the first two series put together. It is hard to judge however, as the first two series (the 8 Bubblegum Crisis OAV’s and the 3 part Bubblegum Crash OAV’s) were rather disjointed and were put out one by one instead of being serialized like 2040. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of the BGC series, it’s just that BGC 2040 got just the right mix of story, music and animation together to put out a very compelling story; there’s even an ending!
Basic Ideas and Themes
Well, who else was I going to do a character profile on if not my favorite character of the series: the Blue Knight Sabre, better known as Priss Asagiri (and hence, the title of the piece Blue Ambition). I must admit, I had little structure to the story when I first started this project. I had some random images and ideas that I initially placed down in my timeline, but it never really gelled until I decided to dedicate each section of the song to one of the other 3 Knight Sabres and their lament of ‘why can’t I be like Priss’ (hence the working title). Below is a summary of the ideas behind each section:
Section 1 - Linna Yamazaki (the green Knight Sabre): The first section is dedicated to Linna as she is trying to find out more about and actually become a Knight Sabre. I pulled scenes from her initial contact with Priss as well as creating a more dynamic chase scene (the chase scene does occur, but I pulled other scenes in as well to sort of parallel the action between Priss and her motorcycle and Linna and her scooter). This section ends with her trying on her hard suit armor for the first time, showing that she has reached her goal of becoming ‘Priss-like’. From start to finish, this section has stayed pretty consistent as is shown in the final.
Section 2 - Nene Romanova (the red Knight Sabre): Nene had never really been the fighter of the group; that task falling to our hero Priss, of course. In this second section, I primarily used scenes from a single combat where Nene rashly takes the lead in the attack of a rogue boomer and falls short due to lack of experience. In comes the cavalry in the shape of Priss who shows Nene how it’s done – get in fast, strike hard and get out. The end of this scene shows Nene frantically complaining "Why can't I be you!" while flailing her arms, which is then countered by Priss' withering stare: all the high-tech gadgetry of the hard suits cannot replace effort and training. This second section too, like the first, has stayed pretty much consistent throughout the creation process of the video, with some minor tweaking.
Section 3 - Sylia Stingray (the white Knight Sabre): this last section is almost a complete fabrication as I couldn’t for the life of me figure out just why Sylia would be envious of Priss. I had initially a great series of clips of where Priss walks into Sylia’s establishment, Silky Doll and talks to Sylia. Problem was, there was no real story going on that fit the theme of why Sylia wanted to be more like Priss, so I pretty much scrapped about 80% of what I had already done. This was the point when the video was due for the contest, so without an ending, I notified the contest coordinator and officially pulled out.
With the pressure off, I decided to go back through the 26 episodes to find something that could use as a story for this section. I finally hit on paralleling the relationship between Sylia and Nigel (the Knight Sabre’s technical wizard and part time motorcycle mechanic) with Priss’ relationship with Leon (the AD Police officer). Sylia and Nigel have more of a ‘casual sex’ sort of relationship going – basically fulfilling a physical need for each other with little else. Priss and Leon on the other hand are burgeoning on an actual love relationship. So with this in mind, I was lucky enough to find some footage that I could edit in such a way to show that Sylia seeming to want something more from Nigel than just sex. After he storms out, Sylia is at the computer watching surveillance and catches Priss and Nigel in a full on embrace which wells up a lot of emotions in Sylia. As she takes her nightly dose of alcohol, she remembers the kiss between Priss and Nigel and her semi-neurotic side comes out as she smashes the glass to the table, lamenting “why can’t I be you”. Not wanting to leave Sylia hanging like that, I found another scene where Nigel embraces her to end this section. As stated previously this section has gone through at least 3 different iterations prior to the final that is shown here.
Well, as the contest had restrictions on editing styles (only fades, cross fades and overlays could be used, no digital effects), I pretty much kept to these rules (but may have bent some in my first attempt at lip syncing). Pretty much everything you see in this video most likely could be done in a 2-track linear editor (except for the more complex overlays at the Sylia section and at the end). I wouldn’t want to try it, but it probably could be done (having 16 tracks to edit with has spoiled me!).
As it seems to be my ‘signature’ if I have one as I’m still new at this, I’ve edited the song down from its original running length of 3:14 down to a final length of 2:45. I basically got rid of the very repetitive beginning and initially I cut down the last choruses to only 2. However, as I neared the end of the video, it didn’t seem to flow well with only 2 of the 4 ‘why can’t I be you’ repeats, so I added them back in which allowed for a better flow (at least to me).
Well, as it was against the rules of the contest, there really aren’t very groundbreaking (for me) visual effects in this video. I do have a few somewhat complex overlays (like the Sylia scene where she’s watching the monitor and it flashes over to Priss and Leon) and I did play a lot with the adjusting the playing speeds of the clips as well to get the storyline across. The only other area where it could be called a visual effect would be my first attempt at lip syncing. I tried different methods: constructing the lip-flaps from still frames, using lip overlays, and creative cross-cuts and fades. For a first time effort, it isn’t too bad, but I think that I won’t be doing this again anytime soon.
This video was created on 2 machines and a portable HD
Home computer - Pentium 4, 1.8ghz, 1 gig ram (that extra 512 megs helps out a lot)
Work computer - Pentium 4, 3.4ghz HT, 1 gig ram
Portable HD - 200 gig USB hard drive
Video editor: Magix Movie Edit Pro 10 (NLE)
Audio editor: Audacity (becoming pretty good with this too)
Encoder: Tmpegenc (mpeg-2)
Time: about 70 hours or so over 2.5 months
Things I wish I could have done
I really wish I could have gotten this done in time for the contest as I was excited to put my work up against others with similar restrictions in the creation. After seeing the winners, I probably would not have stood a chance at winning at all! However, it would have been fun – maybe next time.
At the beginning of this project, I just learned about doing alpha channel masking and really wanted to do this for the video. The scene that I originally had the alpha channel on was at the middle of the AMV where Priss punches out the heart of the boomer. I wanted to use a ‘shatter’ type effect as the punch landed and transition to her ripping out the boomer’s heart. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t use it as it does sound sort of cheesy, but at the time I really did want to try it.
Lastly, I'm not really sure if I've actually succeeded in making a character profile in the strictest sense. Yes, the video is about Priss, but in more of an abstract way. Instead of using a lot of clips of her, it's more subtle as it is only implied through the desires of the other 3 Knight Sabres - well, okay, not subtle, it's all of them screaming "Why can't I be you" for goodness sakes! Maybe one day I'll do a 'traditional' character profile, but until then, I hope you enjoy Blue Ambition!