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December meme #11

Behind again! [personal profile] sperrywink asked: Tell me about creating the Shelter vid (song choice, clips,
rebuilding it, etc)

This is one of my favorite vids I've ever made, but I have so many FEELS about it that it's hard to put it down into words. So it's probably easier to just talk about it from conception through completion. I first heard the song a while ago when I saw the movie Take Shelter (which, if you have never seen it, I cannot recommend highly enough, it's truly exceptional, though a bit disturbing for some people, I'm sure). I'd made a mental note to see if I could find the song, but then kind of spaced it, and it wasn't till I watched it again after I'd seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier for the umpteenth time that I remembered the song. I was listening to it as the end credits rolled and it stabbed me in the heart, how perfect the lyrics were, how perfect it FELT for the movie.

The apocalyptic storm imagery, the protagonist of the song wanting to save his loved ones and keep them close to him for protection, just screamed Steve Rogers to me. I immediately downloaded the song and then tried to talk myself out of vidding it because all I had was the crappy Italian cam copy of the movie. Enough people in my LJ/DW tried to help talk me out of it like I asked them to, but I just kept listening to the song (because it's gorgeous and I love it) and I couldn't stop putting clips into it in my mind.

So I caved and did it. I don't know that I've ever completed a vid as quickly as Shelter, and Orange Crush, which I made a little later. I knew a couple things before I started: that the dramatic chord in the middle at the bridge would have to be Bucky turning around unmasked, because even if you knew that Bucky was the Winter Soldier going in, that moment in the movie is still the most dramatic scene with the biggest emotional payoff. So that meant the last part of the song would have to be Bucky and Steve's part, which meant Bucky didn't get a verse, just the repeating chorus and end notes.

That also meant that Sam and Natasha would get the two verses and choruses, and I just had to figure out which verse fit for which character relationship with Steve. I also wanted to tie him in to Bucky at the start, so that we know Bucky will be part of the story, even though he wouldn't appear till over halfway through the song. And get some stuff with Steve's dissatisfaction with SHIELD/Nick Fury, and the intro music seemed like a good place to do all that. I thought Natasha would make a stronger opening and fit with the lyrics at the beginning, the "see those storm clouds moving in" line, because that ties Steve in to the SHIELD issues with Natasha gathering intel on their mission, and how Steve and Natasha start out a little prickly with each other. And the "midnight sky at noon today" fit really well for them being hit with the missile, and "shelter still so far away" was a great spot for the two of them turning to Sam. The evolution of Steve's friendship with Natasha in that movie is just…augh. It leaves me flailing all over the place sometimes, and being able to show that just in a couple lines of the song, over that "I don't know just what we'll do/I don't know just where we'll go/All I know is we gotta move/All I know is to keep you close" was like a gift to be able to show their growing closeness and support of one another.

So that meant Sam would get the second verse and chorus, which was great because then I could showcase his capabilities on the line "water's red and the sky is black" because man, do I love it when Sam attacks that merc with a knife and takes his gun and starts shooting. One of the things about the cam copy, though, was that it was highly interlaced, which meant the action sequences were really awkward to work with. I ended up having to cut out four or more clips in each sequence to get rid of the interlacing, and on some of Sam's scenes, that took way too much out of it. In a way though that turned out okay, because it never hurts to rely on face shots with someone as incredibly expressive as Anthony Mackie. That guy is a fucking gift for vidders, I tell you what. And the "never been like this before" I thought fit so perfectly with Steve reaching out to Sam for friendship, because we know how lonely he is and how depressed he is, and seeing that connection with Sam on those lyrics worked beautifully.

I never like to just vid a movie linearly--where basically all you're doing is retelling the movie just to a song. So I wanted to keep the stuff with Sam meeting Steve for the "ohhh" lines, AFTER we've already just seen Steve forging the deeper connection with Sam, and that felt like a good place to just show something sweet without needing it to tell more of a story. Another thing I like to do in vids is break up the visuals of faces and bodies with landscape shots or items or something like that--and the scene of them all exiting the vehicle and walking toward that plant entrance was a good place to break up all those face shots. And from the very first moment I was thinking of the vid, I knew that Steve's "on your left" in the hospital had to be on the "all I know is to keep you close" line. It's just so affecting, so perfect and Sam's smile makes me melt there.

So then that left Bucky on the dramatic bridge chords. I wanted to intercut Bucky's unmasking and Steve's discovery of him with Steve thinking about the "to the end of the line" scene, hitting those incredibly sad piano chords. In a live version of Shelter that I found on YouTube, Ben Nichols has an added verse possibly because the rain sounds at the beginning and end can't be done live with him and the accordion player, and possibly also because you lose that oomph in the middle without the piano chords. I wish I could have found a clearer copy, sometimes, because that added verse would have been so perfect for Steve and Bucky (lyrics: I see that look there in your eyes/Reflecting more than those dark skies/ No time to think on what's been lost/Move along or lose it all), but as it was, the dramatic, melancholy piano chords were really just wonderful--that turn on the chord, it's almost like it was made for that song, you know? As well, the way Steve and Bucky look at each other and the way Bucky touches him, god, it just slid so perfectly into place on the repeated "all I know is to keep you close" lines.

Then I wanted to thread Steve and Bucky remembering each other on the moments with the guitar strumming. This is one of the few places I made a big change in the remastered version--in my cam copy, the scene where Steve says, "Even when I had nothing, I had Bucky" has a sort of video fritzing, so I ended up using him just before he says "they must have found him" there, but in the remastered version I could use that clip, which I think makes for a much more powerful counterpoint to Bucky saying "but I knew him." And then of course, tying it even further together with one of the newsreel clips and Steve looking at Bucky's wall in the exhibit.

I loved being able to cut on those piano notes. I just feel like the power of that ending is partly about the melancholy sound of the music with those cuts of Steve looking at Bucky's picture in the file, of him confronting Bucky on the gangway, of him dropping his shield when faced with a friend who can't remember him, of him giving up and falling into the river and the pain in Bucky's face. I ADORE Henry Jackman's score for the movie; I think it's one of the best movie scores I've ever heard. One of the reasons I love it is how effectively he uses a single key of the piano and simple chords there at the end when Steve goes into the river and when Bucky drags him out. It's fucking haunting and gorgeous, and Shelter as a song does pretty much the exact same thing at the end. So, obviously, it mapped to those clips as if they were made to be there.

The remaster was a bit of a challenge because I worried about the distancing effect of the correct aspect ratio--the cam copy was much closer on faces, due to the curvature of the movie screen and probably a handheld camera, so faces were more prominent than they are in the DVD. It also meant that there are some clips were you can't even see part or all of a person in the shot--when Steve and Natasha are at Sam's door, you almost can't see Natasha, and when Maria pulls back that Visqueen curtain, you can't see her in the original vid, but you can on the remaster. So, so hilar. The timing was a bit of a challenge, too, in that I didn't have to cut out interlacing on the action scenes. I ended up not using many action scenes for that reason in the original, and I think it was a stronger vid for that. I saved all the action for Orange Crush. ;-)

It's funny, I don't rewatch my vids much at all, but I never get tired of watching this one. I love the song so much (and Ben Nichols's whiskey, cigarettes, and gargling with gravel voice), I love the picture of friendship and love this created, I love all the people in that bar…it's just one of my favorite projects ever.

And for those of you new here, this is the vid I'm discussing:

and you can see the old cam copy version here


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Dec. 23rd, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
I have nothing useful to add, but I LOVE THIS VID SO MUCH.

♥ x a million!!!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 28th, 2014 11:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for asking about it. It is really one of my favorite vids I've ever made; maybe that comes through, too.
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