The home of the haikulator



Sentence Generators
My Stand-up & gigs
The Coding Craftsman

The Musical!
Incredible Productions


Previous Posts

Locked Down
I Know What I Did This Summer
Funny Old Week
The History of The Haikulator
There Must Be 50 Ways To Make A Gig Difficult
History Repeating
Hi, we’re calling from Some
An Open Letter To HSBC
Pay What Now?

Blog Archives

October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
August 2009
September 2009
January 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
October 2011
December 2011
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
May 2014
July 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
July 2016
August 2017
January 2018
August 2018
September 2018
July 2019
August 2019
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
December 2020
January 2021
July 2021
September 2021

Wednesday, May 6


Before I go into what I think I got right with the Lockdown song, it's probably worth looking at some stuff I got wrong.

The vocal take isn't good enough. There are notes missed, breaths not taken, and the phrasing's not great. However, it does manage to convey the words accurately and tells the story ok.

The video has a few glitches in it. The scene with the goats is too long and loses some context as it should really appear inside a YouTube frame - perhaps zooming out to show it was a YouTube cut... though how to do that in the video editor, who knows?

There may be a couple of dodgy lyrics in there too... trying to get officers to rhyme with scissors makes the joke work, but it should be O-fficer, not o-FI-cert...

The point is that there's always room to say why something's imperfect, and something that could have been done better. However, overall, I'm really happy with the video and song when put together. I'd like to put a few notes together on how this might not have ended up as good, but did result in something I'm proud of because of some decent decisions that happened along the way. I'm not sure they were entirely by design.

A quick lesson on how the song came about. I had the idea for a song about lockdown based on downtown because they're simply the same sounding word. I've enjoyed Tony Hatch's music over the years anyway; closer scrutiny of the song reminded me how brilliantly ironic it is that the original song is about going downtown, the opposite of the state we're in.

I wrote a couple of verses, and found it an interesting challenge, owing to the fairly complex original rhyme scheme and lyrical structure. I got something I quite liked. That was started on April 21st. I tweaked it a little. On 28th I wrote the last verse. I stood in the garage and recorded the vocal a day or so later. The video was filmed on 2nd May, though I'd recorded a snippet down the side of the house a day or so before. The process from idea to complete video was a couple of weeks.

When I write a parody song, which I've not done a lot of before, but have been doing a lot recently, I often review a performance of the original, or the original lyrics, putting them side-by-side with the lyric I'm writing to get it to scan. This feels like writing to a formula... there must be some good creative moments/decisions to make it live, and I think it here that this song jumped off the page.

Before I go on about the things I think I did, I should point out that this was a case of walking in beautifully crafted footsteps of greater writers/performers. The original song is a work of art. It must surely have done a lot of the work for me... but I also did some work. I remember doing it.

The Third Verse
The rule with comedy songs is get out before they get bored. Try to avoid instrumentals. Try to avoid repetition. Don't overstay one's welcome.

The original draft got to the line "While goats invade the centre of town" and I thought it had peaked. There's a key change and instrumental break. Stop here. Point made. Or so I thougt.

However, as writing challenges go, finding new words to fit the awkward structure was like a drug and I thought I'd have another go. All the initial more obvious ideas were now used up. They weren't bad ideas, they were just predictable.

Creating with constraints is good for you. You end up finding something new. I couldn't repeat what I'd said before. I had to dig deeper into my personal experience. I had to find funny counterparts for them. In the case of Disinfect the post/Hide in the curtains and pretend you're a ghost, one of these was something we were essentially doing - a damning summary of daily life treating the post as dangerous. The other was me coming up with a funny image that rhymed... I'm so glad I did.

The last verse is my favourite and it could so not have happened.

Trying it out on my Wife
I've been somewhat reluctant to try my hilarious comedy ideas out at home, since often what's funny to an audience is awkward in person. However, I read through the song to my wife and it made us both laugh. This gave me the mood for what I wanted to reach in the edits and the last verse. I had the perfect audience. If my wife, who can see through me, finds the material funny, then it's probably very funny. Another constraint to the writing process.

You should write comedy to make yourself laugh. I laugh most at my own stuff when it causes laughter, or when I can't believe I'm about to say/sing it.

It took a few takes to be able to sing the hide in the curtains line without cracking.

Filming on a Glorious Day
The nicest thing about the video is that it was filmed on a blue sky day with green fields. I was taking the kids for a walk. I tried getting my daughter to film me, but it didn't quite work. I did a couple of quick selfies to the camera and took some texture shots.

I must surely have mined the book of film student cliches with the spinning round bit... but it was fun and it looks good. It's obvious that the two verses are selfies, but the change in camera angle was a good idea as it makes it look more well though out than it was.

I performed the first lines of the song without any backing track.. just from my memory of the rhythm of the song. It ties in remarkably well.

Discovering the magic of Lip Sync
Once I discovered that my attempt to record without an backing track to mime to actually worked, I got bolder about what else I could possibly achieve by miming and shuffling the footage into the right position to sync.

It seems that the brain is remarkably forgiving of lip sync in videos and you just need to drag a clip to the right sort of place and suddenly it lives!

When my friend recorded a video to another song we made, without the final backing track, I was similarly surprised at the lip sync of the end result. This time, I was editing and I soon discovered how little I need to rely on making a video take of the actual track recording... not that I'll stop doing that. It's fun to see the video of the actual take you're hearing - if that's an important thing in the presentation of the song.

The Netflix bit of the song came out well with the above technique. I built a video with the Netflix background and a frame of me singing - I then played that on our TV and filmed that with a moving shot, knowing it would all tie together in the edit.

Trusting lip sync gave us some of our best shots.

Listening to my Wife's Ideas during Filming
I had an idea for each of the shots, but it wasn't set in stone. I didn't get too precious about the ideas and gave my wife the camera to try stuff with. I say camera. It was an iPhone.

An an example, thought it was my idea to go up in the loft, it was her who put the ladder up after me and then made me slam the loft hatch shut up there... a shot that made us and the kids laugh when we watched it back.

You've got to admire someone who agrees to set fire to envelopes over the sink in the name of art.

Trying to Finish It
It could have stalled and never really finished. I have a video in that state; there's some photography done, and some graphics, but loads more to do on top.

In this case, the self-imposed pressure to get it out on YouTube on the day of the main photography forced us to come up with passable and in many cases, spontaneously funny clips.

Using a Karaoke Track
It's kind of an admission of failure that I couldn't create my own backing... but there was a really rather good one I could just import. Build/buy... it's a no brainer here.

I would have had more things to worry about, preventing me from getting anyway, if I'd decided to make my own backing. The one I chose gave the end result a much more professional feel.

Editing it down to the minimum
There's a cut in the backing track I chose. It means the song goes a bit faster and there's less fill between the first and second halves around the keychange.

As a rule, never use the whole song without slicing bits out unless it's perfect.

Thinking about the Words for the Video
A video is a chance to do an act out, so each scene was a mini 3-4 second visual gag opportunity. This is a great way to make the material deeper.

Subtitling the Video Early
The subtitles ended up acting as signposts on the video editor about where we were in the video, much easier to use than the on-screen action.

I think I do a reasonable job of subtitling, trying to get the subtitle up at the point which is both funniest and in time with the music; sometimes they coincide, sometimes not.

Often the subtitle boundaries were also the perfect edit boundaries to switch between shots... it worked really well.

Building the Video Before Shooting was Complete
By putting the structure of the video together, we could dry run the shooting we'd done in context quickly, and get a sense of progress with the whole thing. It motivated us to finish it, and gave us ideas about pacing.

To be honest, the whole thing was slapped together without too much thought or planning, but that was made possible by the scaffolding of the existing shots, roughly edited on the timeline with subtitles and the backing track. It guided us to completion awfully well.

Making Static Shots move in Post
There were a couple of shots which didn't move when we filmed them. The pan across Netflix stopped, and a view over my shoulder of me watching a video had a moving video, but the shot was still.

I noticed that this sapped a little energy, so I made them zoom in, during editing... this kept the shot interesting, especially since the attention span we'd set up with previous shots was about 3 seconds.

I learned a lot doing this. I think the above went well... I look forward to future videos.

Overall, this is a silly three minute video, but it surprises me how rapidly it runs through, and how much fun it is to rewatch. It was worth the microscopic adjustments and hearing my own voice on a loop for a day.

Let's see if I do any more.


Post a Comment

<< Home

All content ©2001 - 2020 Ashley Frieze