Sunday, November 17, 2013

Making animated music videos for Yiddish theater songs.

It's important to have captions for videos in a language few people understand any more. But in order for there to be captions, there have to be images. We haven't yet performed any of the music we recorded on "In Odess" and "Lebedik Yankl" so there's no concert footage. That's why I make animated music videos: so there can be subtitles!

Di eybike mame is an entertainingly melodramatic song about a mother who says being a mom is a chump's game. The hard-working, under-appreciated mother is a stock character in all Yiddish entertainment.

So, "The Eternal Mother" for your amusement:

It's the first video I've done using Adobe Illustrator. This is the current way I use it to do animation: import a photo into a blank file, blow it up big, use Illustrator to trace it on layers, then export it to Photoshop (which is a less finicky program and which will make animated gifs). Then I pull the animated gifs from Photoshop into Premiere Pro to build the video.

I stayed up late many nights to finish this, and then when I exported it, the still pictures were flickering, which made me a little queasy. There are several fixes suggested online, but finally the simplest one was the one that worked - why didn't I try it first? Premiere Pro has an anti-flickering filter! It's hard to find because all the text in the program is tiny and the background is charcoal gray and everything you want is hidden inside nested options.

I've taken a few lessons from Jason Comparetto and one of his suggestions was to storyboard each video in advance. That's sensible but not how I've ended up doing it: I gather images and sequences that seem illustrative or amusing, make sequences myself, and jumble them all together.

I stuffed the last chorus of this song with pictures of children I love. The protagonist in the song implies your kids will grow up and abandon you, that they will be callous and self-interested, and that's why mothers are "eternal fools." My favorite line: "One mother can take care of ten children, but then children (God Forbid!) will let one mother go begging."

That hasn't been my experience. It's not too late for my kids to abandon me but thankfully it hasn't happened yet!

No, to me the hard part is that you keep losing them. Those babies that play with their toes disappear and are replaced with toddlers who spill ink on the carpet when you don't pay attention to them and those toddlers become little kids that go off to school, and before you know it they're in high school and sneaking around behind your back doing things you don't want to know about, and then they run off to college and they're kind of - gone. A mom has to keep saying goodbye to the kid she loves in order to welcome the new (older) one that comes along.

I have a friend who's in her mid-eighties and she's still worrying for her kids. It never ends.

This is a picture of my daughter with her two preschool buddies. One of them is now a fireman who also grows flowers and the other has become a guy, so the little girl he was is really, really gone. I remember the day I took this picture and I miss these little kids.


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