Slack Injection TV - 005 - The Cinematic Experience

Slack Injection TV returns after an extended obsession attempting to sync Divine’s mouth movements up to Lordi’s vocalizations.

Yeah, it’s gonna be that kind of episode.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsJbWkg8sWI
Backup: archive.org

In this episode…

On Future Artisans

2022-Aug-14

We have this near wizard-level magical technology emerge that can create, at our written direction, artistic visions never before conceived.

Instead of excitedly embracing it as a powerful democratizing agent allowing you to explore new ideas, and kick start your own creative juices, a portion of the creative community is utterly terrified.

“They’re stealing from me!”, “Nobody will buy my art now!”, “My work is meaningless!”

But you can see how capitalism caused that pain, right? In order to stay afloat, you have to optimize your skills in order to maximize profit. If you’re very lucky, you’ll find an intersection between that and a creatively satisfying job. But most are not that fortunate.

Yes, this is from Midjourney, but I also manually edited it afterward. AI and humans working together, side-by-side.
Yes, this is from Midjourney, but I also manually edited it afterward. AI and humans working together, side-by-side.

I’m not sure what I can say to ease that mindset. All I know is that you can’t put technological genies of this caliber back in the bottle.

You’ll either go with the flow and find ways to live with it, or… well, you’ll have a real bad time going forward.

I know “adapt or die” is not what anyone wants to hear, but it’s on the table whether we like it or not.

Robot automation is estimated to have cost the jobs of over 400,000 people since 1990. Dangerous, monotonous work now done safely by machines. New roles inevitably fill the vacuum; hopefully those new jobs bring a higher quality of life.

Despite that particular topic also being controversial, automation is much easier to understand as a ‘positive’ in that light. Having these kinds of game changers affect something as core to the human experience as artistic expression, well… yeah, that’s on a whole other level, admittedly.

I’m a programmer. We’ve already started seeing the early exploration of AI-based automation.

Maybe in a decade I can simply roll up to a terminal prompt and describe the functionality I want to see in a website. A minute later it’ll grind out a tarball for me to inspect, make a few changes to, and (hopefully) run a security audit on.

As long as the technology was proven and solid… would I be out of a job?

Quite possibly.

But there’s also been a whole slew of potentially fun side projects I might have worked on if I didn’t have to slog through the drudgery of getting there. My barrier to entry would be lower, and I can just get on with the fun parts of programming.

Frameworks like Express and Laravel basically do this already, in a sense. Game engines like Unity and UE, as well.

None of that comes anywhere near the level of “Computer, create an X with Y that does Z.”

At least not yet.

Clearly the the die has been cast, and the path towards that day is already in place.

The future is always coming, by fits and starts… and occasionally in gushing fountains, like with AI-driven art.

So, while I may not be an artist or musician, I can at least sympathize with the existential “threat” being felt. It’s just closer to your doorstep than mine at the moment…

One day, if I’m still around, I’ll be staring down the barrel of this, too. What will I do when my primary means of income no longer exists?

I’ll have to adapt.

Hopefully, quite prosperously. 🍻

Editing an 'Imagine Dragons' Music Video

Along with other elements of filmmaking, I’ve been putting a lot of focus into video editing lately.

You don’t get experience from just reading, of course – though, Blink of an Eye was a surprisingly good read.

So I’ve been enjoying not just the Slack Injection TV stuff (though that’s more of a chaos-collage kind of thing), but also seeking out projects like what this Adobe article offers.

It’s a collaboration between Adobe and the band Imagine Dragons where the band provides a master audio track and a whole bunch of their video footage from the music video for Believer. It was clearly intended to promote sales of Adobe Premiere Pro, but I’m using Kdenlive for all of this. Oops. 😉

Kdenlive is a very capable, cross-platform non-linear video editor. Some of the Premiere Pro features covered in the article, however, aren’t yet available in Kdenlive, but lacking those features just means having to be that much more creative with how you approach things, so I was not daunted.

After going through all the footage, there was clearly a boxing thing going on (with Dolph Lundgren!), and a guy sitting in a chair who apparently also boxes against Dolph. There were other bits, like of the band playing, and some ambient background stuff.

I made sure I didn’t look at the official, completed video to keep myself free of influence. While going through the clips I was struck by the lengthy clip of Dan Reynolds sitting in his little egg chair, just staring at the camera.

Being a perpetual jokester, I felt the urge to grab the wheel and drive the car off the road – instead of making a music video, I’ll come up with a skit about how guys in the booth are waiting on him to start the video. They chatter to themselves, confused about why he’s just sitting there doing nothing.

If you're not getting a 'The Prisoner' vibe, then please leave.
If you're not getting a 'The Prisoner' vibe, then please leave.
As I was assembling that joke (which involved very precise trimming and cross-fading of the clip – it worked well, surprisingly), I started to kind of feel like it could be ‘something more’.

Instead of 3 minutes of just uncomfortable staring, I played a bit with cuts over to an equally uncomfortable close up on certain parts of the song, until finally, as the music hits it’s final climax, he transforms into a child (a separate series of footage swapping Dave out for a “mini-Dan”) who is seemingly ready to judge you, and begins quickly scribbling something on his notepad: “BELIEVER”.

What does it mean? No fucking idea. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a music video, after all, so it doesn’t have to! 😀 But it’s a VERY different take from the official version, thankfully.

But this was so cool! It’s the soul of what’s attracting me to film editing in general. It’s like being given a bag of LEGOs for a Star Wars vehicle and creating something else entirely from it. It’s like what I imagine forming shapes out of clay is like. Creativity just emerges from the process as you knead the cuts.

I learned very quickly that, in reality, no matter how pleased I am with this cut, it would never ever work in the real world – nobody would have the patience to sit through 3 minutes of that pseudo-artistic nonsense to get to the heart of it at the end, so I cut it down to about a minute. 😉

And here it is:

Slack Injection TV - 004 - The Voyage to X-Day

Time for more Slack Injection TV! Religion, fire, and UFOs conspire to take you on The Voyage to X-Day!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfPusEoJwTY

Backups: archive.org

In this episode…

CLIPS

MUSIC