Civil: Community in the Stars

A scene from the Community episode “Virtual Systems Analysis,” which I used in my remixed intro.

My project was to take the NBC comedy, Community, and remix it as a sci-fi show in a new intro.  I used clips from about eight episodes from seasons 2 and 3 and the “theme song” is an original song called Run One from the film Run Lola Run. Its name is Civil: Community in the Stars (civil is short for civilization, which is a synonym for community with more of a historical or sci fi feel, in my opinion).  It runs for approximately 105 seconds.

I knew that I could use sci fi signatures to convince the audience that they knew what was going on, when in fact they likely don’t (since the original context is lacking).  As Edgar-Hunt said in The language of film, “one look…and we feel we understand exactly what is going on.” (Edgar-Hunt, 2010, p. 2) I employed this principle to my advantage; for example, one clip shows the “crew” walking dramatically in slow motion.  In reality, this moment in the show is a comical one because one of the characters is making everyone else walk intentionally slowly; there was no editing to slow them down.  This scene is an example of the iconography of the classic genre films that Thomas Sobchak discusses in “Genre film: a classic experience.”  (Sobchak, 1975, p. 4) The slow-mo group walking in a straight line is a classic straight out of a variety of genre film types (action, gangster, etc) but is absolutely a staple of films with crews of some kind, like space crews as is the case here.  This wasn’t even my doing; this was the show itself paying homage to a genre, as it often does.  When I was picking my font, I decided on one called Xirod.  I knew the type of font was a big decision from Kim Golombisky & Rebecca Hagen who insist among other things that the type impacts readability, legibility, and visual hierarchy. (Golombisky & Hagen, 2010, p. 86)

I made a lot of intentional creative choices for this project.  I knew I wanted to have clips of every character shown simultaneously with the name of the actor (as is common in TV intros), so I carefully chose clips that prominently featured a given character as the one for which I would put that actor’s name.  I didn’t want to begin with the credits, since most TV shows don’t do that.  Since this is a sci fi show, I began with the “enemies,” then showed the group as a whole before introducing them individually.  I had thought of two awesome soundtracks I’d like to use for this intro: Drive and Run Lola Run, both of which have incredible, futuristic, unique soundtracks.  I eventually settled on Run Lola Run, though, because it was faster paced.  The song from Drive that I liked seemed too morose overall and I wanted a more action-packed feel as opposed to introspective and sad.  I worked very hard on choosing the clips; Community is a comedy that takes place at a community college, but in its later seasons it has experimented with different genres.  Never do they actually, completely break reality, however–one episode I utilized liberally was about the study group being stuck in a KFC flight simulator.  I also used scenes from the Dreamatorium, a room that offers the viewer a glimpse into the mind of one of the characters, Abed.  As stated before, I worked hard to find a font that satisfied what I wanted; I had to use one from dafont.  I picked the color green because it is traditionally a sci fi color.  Instead of having the credits roll in in a dull way, I chose a standard “zoom” video transition, while for the title at the end, I picked a “zoom cross” transition and put it on both sides.  I added an effect to the video that made the colors pop a little more, as well as adding a “ghosting” effect to one of the first clips to emphasize the slow-mo.  Other effects I added were a fade-in at the beginning and a fade out for the audio at the end.  Most TV intros I’ve watched use short clips with regular cuts to separate them, so this is what I did (no clip lasted longer than a few seconds).

Yet again with the fonts, I had trouble finding one I liked.  I showed the trailer to a friend before picking a cool font and he didn’t understand what I was going for.  Yikes!  So I realized the incredible importance of a font.  Early on a noticed the trouble lots of people had (audio and video not synced) but I didn’t want to use any dialogue in mine so it wasn’t a problem.  To be frank, I encountered few problems or frustrations.  Probably the biggest frustration was finding clips I wanted.  I had a bounty of action-ish clips, but not all were sci fi esque.  Cutting down on these in order to keep the intro pure was difficult but necessary to keep the vision the way I intended.  Advice for future students: definitely familiarize yourself with Premier early on because it’s incredibly fun!  I tried out every transition and effect to see what they did, and this was not only fun but really helped me get acquainted with Premier’s capabilities.  I was able to shape my intro by experimenting with all sorts of cool effects.

REFERENCES

Robert Edgar-Hunt, John Marland, and Steven Rawle (2010) The language of film. Lausanne: AVA Academia.

Kim Golombisky & Rebecca Hagen (2010). White space is not your enemy: A beginners guide to communicating visually through graphic, web, and multimedia design.

Thomas Sobchak (1975, Summer). Genre film: A classical experience. Literature Film Quarterly3(3), 196.

 

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