Video Information


  • Member: jhfong
  • Studio: Ingress Productions
  • Title: First Contact
  • Premiered: 2001-04-29
  • Categories:
  • Song:
    • Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek: First Contact Main Theme
  • Anime:
  • Comments: (Commentary reprinted from ):

    The opening theme from Star Trek: First Contact is a stirring, melodic piece that presents a distinct contrast to the Borg-fighting action-adventure tone that the movie's best remembered for. It's almost like a theme music for Captain Picard, evocative of the USS Enterprise's spirit of exploration and the idealism that the time-traveling Starfleet crew try to inspire in Zefrem Cochrane as they help him build the first warp drive. I thought this piece of music deserves a better presentation than the rather boring series of pullbacks through the credits that make up the movie's title sequence, so I picked Wings of Honneamise to make a video for it. The same desire for exploration, combined with recognition of human flaws, is also a major theme of WoH.

    Okay, that's enough of sounding like a Trekkie for now.

    The source footage for this video came from the Wings of Honneamise DVD. I'm experimenting with something that I don't recall ever seeing in a video before this: because this is an anamorphic disc, I set my DVD player to widescreen mode, so that on a regular TV the picture would be stretched vertically without letterboxing bars. Then I captured this signal at 427x240 resolution instead of the usual 320x240, to produce files in the 16:9 aspect ratio. The music has a smooth, symphonic quality, so rather than using sharp cuts between clips, I transitioned between most of them with cross dissolves. Rendering preview files for all those transitions ate up a lot of drive space....

    As with my previous video, "Pulp Bebop", I used a MIDI file with numbered bars as a guide for putting the video together. The sound in the final MPEG file is encoded at 160 instead of 128 kbps because all the high violin notes produce lots of screechy artifacts at the lower bitrate.

    There are two big crescendos in this song, one near the beginning after Alexander Courage's ST:TOS fanfare (at 0:43 in the video), and one near the end at 2:33. This suggests an obvious structure for the video: I'd start with the launching of the rocket at the end of WoH, end with Shirotsugh arriving in orbit, and have the middle section of the video be a flashback to the rest of the movie.

    Because everyone can associate the Courage fanfare with Star Trek, I wanted to connect the beginning of the video immediately with the concept of space travel, with shots of the rocket and Shiro putting on his spacesuit. The pounding of the timpani at 0:25 was probably originally intended to suggest the menace of the Borg, and there I used some quick fading cuts of the battle around the launch pad. I matched up the drum roll leading up to the first crescendo with the ignition of the rocket engines, and this is interesting because this scene in WoH was originally completely silent.

    The main theme has two "verses". In the first, I show Shiro volunteering for the mission (but although I wanted to, I couldn't work in his apathetic attitude at the beginning of the movie.) The second "verse" has an additional flute motif, and here I used shots taken entirely from the flight training scene interspersed with shots of Leiqunni and Manna. I wanted the bright flash of the additive dissolve transitions to mimic the descending notes played on the flute.

    At 1:46, the shot of the plane descending into dark clouds segues into the bridge where the music changes to a minor key. Here I intended from the beginning to show the hardships Shiro went through before going into space. In the first cut of the video, this section began with the engine explosion that kills Dr. Gnomm and the funeral scene afterward. However, it seemed like I was putting way too much emphasis on Dr. Gnomm's widow and I wasn't satisfied with how it turned out. I'd already shown Shiro getting depressed and the controversial attempted rape scene -- which has never been used in an AMV before, to my knowledge -- but I couldn't work in any of the scenes from the assassination attempt on Shiro that I'd wanted to include.

    Then I dug up some old Usenet posts by Carl Horn from my archives (available from Google: ), where he talks about the reason Shiro tries to rape Leiqunni. His interpretation is that he's trying to punish her for being a hypocrite, for talking about piety and yet hoarding money in her shoe after he gave all his money away to the homeless. I went back and redid this part of the video to illustrate this scenario. Curiously, when I listened to the commentary track on the DVD by director Hiroyuki Yamaga, he doesn't talk at all about why Shiro wanted to rape Leiqunni, but his take on the scene is entirely about what *she* thinks about *him*. He says he likes the following scene, where Leiqunni apologizes to Shiro for hitting him with the candelabra, because it shows "the strength that allows her to live in this world", and thus she says this as a way of distancing herself from him. I've never seen Western audiences pick up on this in the discussions I've heard... most of us find Leiqunni's behavior inexplicable. It's a pretty clear-cut example of cultural differences in action, I guess.

    The ending of the video, starting at 2:40 with the pull back from Leiqunni with snow falling around her, uses shots in exactly the same order as they appear at the end of WoH, only cut down to fit the music. I think by doing a dissolve from the earth (or Uru, or whatever this planet's supposed to be called) to the starfield, I've made an improvement over the abrupt cut that occurs at this point in the original movie. (Yamaga's commentary says a lot of things got rushed near the end of the production.) The last note of the music was originally really short -- it had to jump abruptly to Picard's flashback to the time he was assimilated by the Borg -- but I used a time-scaling algorithm to stretch the note out to cover two bars and fade it out. This is why the vibrato on that note sounds a little weird.

    This was one of the three videos that I submitted to the Sakura Con 2001 Music Video Contest, but it wasn't screened. I think it's just as well, because the contest had another Wings of Honneamise video by ErMaC (to "Next Year" by the Foo Fighters) that employs a similar flashback structure using many of the same shots I used here -- which is unavoidable when you've just got a 2-hour movie to work with. It wouldn't have been a good idea for both videos to appear in the same contest, so I don't mind that this video didn't get shown.

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