Pretty Well

I sometimes make videos that pair music clips with photos. It’s amazingly hard to do well: to edit the visual changes to align with the auditory ones, even when the photos are just, you know, standing there.

Once I accidentally picked music for a video of a squirrel where the squirrel jumping coincided with a change in the rhythm of the music. Woot!

Maybe that experience is why I’m so impressed with mash-ups that combine clips from old musicals — you know, where people are doing anything but just standing there — with a soundtrack that they weren’t dancing to. Here are two great ones.

Now, in some cases it’s easy to see that the video editor has adjusted the speed of the original clip to make it work: The results are still impressive, and the work that goes into them is almost unbelievable. And while we’re on the matter of unbelievable, how well do you have to know the source material to be able to find and select and modify clips that will work?

Pretty well, I’m thinking.

There’s a related video art-form that’s even more amazing to me, because it goes beyond encyclopedic knowledge and fabulous video-editing skills. This one doesn’t merge clips from disparate sources: Instead, it takes one video clip and gives it a new soundtrack. That, you know, works.

And here’s an example of that, which just came out this last week. I tell you, we have our fingers on the cultural pulse here.

And again, here’s the thing. How well do you have to know music and dance to be able to do something like this? How well to even have the thought occur?

Pretty well, I’m thinking.

I remember the first time I really understood that I don’t live in the world the same way as the people who can do this. It was when I listened to the Blind Boys of Alabama sing their version of The House of the Rising Sun.

Or, as it turns out, Amazing Grace. Who knew those could go together? Well, they (or someone) did.

And here’s the real thing. It’s not just a difference in degree: It’s a difference in kind. I could study music for the next 20 years and never be able to put one song’s lyrics with another song’s music.  I could make videos for the next 20 years — and hope I’m able to — and yet never be able to put an entire dance sequence with unrelated music.

Maybe that’s why I’m so grateful for those who can. And for all those who do their own thing pretty well.   Whatever that thing is.


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16 Responses to Pretty Well

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Somehow, you’ve anticipated my next Soft Edges column, which his about the interchangability of some (many?) songs. Stay tuned for next Thursday….

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Excellent! Actually, when I think on it, I’m surprised that I’m surprised by interchangeability. I’m aware that there are multiple tunes for several hymns, and I guess that’s not much different (if any).

  2. Indeed, I don’t have the patience! Good for you. You surprised me even more that you know the Blind Boys of Alabama and the recording of Amazing Grace to House of the Rising Sun. I bought this album just after retiring more than fifteen years ago.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – It would be *another* doctoral thesis (oops – that’s a reference to a comment on a different post – it all looks like one from this end :-)) to map the overlaps of knowledge in various circles.

  3. All great examples. Love the Muppets theme particularly

    How “they” can meld the action to the music and make it look so simple is beyond me. It can take as long to find proper music for a video as it takes to make the video (or much longer)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – I know, right? Barbara is likely right – when that’s what you do, it actually is like magic.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    How is it done? Bloody brilliantly!
    But these vid-guys have probably spent 5,000 hours before they came to do this.
    Photoshop looks like magic to anybody who hasn’t spent X-hours on it, too, or anything else that people are proficient at. It takes selfish obsessiveness, that’s all.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, I guess so. And bless their hearts for putting in the time so I can enjoy the output!

  5. barbara carlson says:

    There is one to Stayin’ Alive that I used to dance to every morning. Now where did I put that vid?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – 🙂 I did a quick search but nothing obvious jumped out at me.

  6. Ken from Kenora says:

    All excellent Isabel, what a collection of mashups. Hard to pick a winner there.

  7. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – people who can do things I could never do have always impressed me. That’s mostly because I have zero musical ability and I think being able to play the piano or any other musical instrument would be neat.
    Also, how dancers in a group all remember the dance steps and routine (with or without music) is beyond me.
    I do at least know how waitresses and waiters remember their regular customers’ drink orders. That’s usually by associating the drink to some feature the customer possesses – which in truth isn’t always complimentary to the customer.

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