Megamind is a family-friendly animated comedy where a villain learns to be hero. The movie concludes with Megamind, the villain, saving the city he has terrorized his entire life from sure destruction. I decided to recut the film into a horror because the movie included many scenes that could be interpreted as violent or scary. Overall, I enjoyed this assignment and think that it is useful to be familiar, even just vaguely, with video editing techniques.
Specific links to course readings
I tried to use shots that could be conceived as scary, even if they were not accompanied by any sound. I picked out shots that were horror movie staples such as an extreme close up of Megamind’s eyeball. According to Bernard Dick, “extreme close-ups of the eye are, in fact, standard in horror films” (Dick 54). Other signature horror films shots I included were of a girl screaming and of the villain’s face expressing a menacing look.
Understanding and using semiotics played a key role in manipulating my movie from a family-friendly comedy into a horror. Semiotics is defined as, “the study of ‘signs’, it is the analysis of communication and can be applied to any form of communication (Edgar-Hunt 13). Edgar-Hunt continues to discuss how film is a clear vessel of semiotics, and every shot can convey a message to the viewer. I relied on this heavily when composing my recut trailer. For example, Megamind carries around a “dehydration ray” that is no more lethal than paperclip (depending on how you use it) except I was able to us it because guns can signify violence and danger.
I also drew from Scott McCloud’s discussion on the power of the “gutter” in comic books. McCloud writes, “Here in the limbo of the gutter, human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea” (McCloud 66). I realize that he is referring to comics but I felt as though the principle could be applied to movie trailers too. I liked the idea that the human imagination could make my message more powerful and attempted to reflect this in my trailer. Therefore, the absence of any sound besides my music allows the viewer to create what they hear. I witnessed this technique of removing the sound, save some especially spooky music, in some of the horror trailers I watched. I found that, at least for me personally, the silent scream rang more terrifying in my mind.
Rationale for creative choices
After watching many examples of horror films I noticed a few trends that I attempted to mimic in my own trailer. One of those trends was to begin the trailer with longer clips but to conclude with faster paced, shorter clips. I added a very rapid sequence of clips that flash by almost like a subliminal message. I inserted quick shots of the movie that didn’t actually contribute to the plot but I considered creepy, such as clips of fire, a skeleton, many television screens with a man rolling on the ground, etc. I was thinking of how The Ring took seemingly harmless and normal clips and made them extremely disturbing. I concluded with a slow shot of a silhouette of Megamind opening a door which is meant to cap the trailer off with one final slow shot of creepiness.
In the very beginning of my trailer, I added in a quick blip of Megamind making a scary face. I took this directly from the Silence of the Lambs trailer I watched. Megamind isn’t quite as terrifying as Anthony Hopkins, the murderous cannibal, but I think it had a similar effect. I also touched earlier on the reasoning behind removing all the sound except the spooky soundtrack, but I want to elaborate a little more. In addition to contributing to the scary theme, it saved me some headaches in working in Premiere because I didn’t have to worry about preserving synchronization at all. I did attempt to match key scene changes with crescendos and percussion in the music. I admit that I did want to give the viewer’s creative interpretation of my work some guidance, so I made the choice to include titles. I wanted to keep the messages concise, because again, I believe the viewer’s interpretation of my trailer is what makes it especially creepy. For this reason I chose a simple black background with white type.
Frustrations, difficulties, and solutions
My greatest frustration might have been sharing the computer lab with so many people. There was hardly a time I went into the lab and found my workstation unoccupied. It was considerably irritating to have to continually reload my file onto a new workstation before I could start. This I realize cannot really be avoided.
A direct result from working with an animated Dreamworks film is that every act of violence or scary shot is accompanied by childish music or comedic relief. This comedic relief was found frequently by showing the unimaginably evil supervillan, Megamind, farting, falling, tripping, crying, girlishly screaming, etc. I managed to circumvent this problem by making several really short subclips where I spliced out the funny parts. I ended up with nearly 150 subclips I was working through for my trailer. I picked out a lot of great shots that I wanted to include but creating a fluid story from them proved to be a challenge. Essentially, I was making a 100 piece puzzle of something with 1000 puzzle pieces. If I were to do this project again, I would decide a story line and look for clips that would/could add to it instead of the other way around.
I feel compelled to conclude with a warning to the future students undertaking this assignment. Procrastinators beware! Not only do you need to give yourself plenty of time to play and familiarize yourself with Premiere in all its complexity, but you need also to fortify yourself against its finicky nature. The program contains so many bugs that it is certainly suffering from a biblical plague. Be diligent and start early. It will be worth saving yourself a few fistfuls of hair if you give yourself time to work problems out.
Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, space, and image,” excerpt from Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s.
Hunt, etal (2010) Semiotics. AVA Academia: Scholastic
Scott McCloud (1994) Understanding comics: The invisible art. New York: HarperPerennial.