JT's Blog

Things that interest me, things that happened to me, things that I like, even some things that I don't like...

Elco Class of '67

A few years ago (in February 2009 to be exact), shortly after reconnecting with some high school classmates (Norman, Gary, Jill, and Dennis) for the first time since graduation, I put together a little video which was supposed to be (very roughly) our yearbook brought to video.

Not finding any worthy models for that sort of thing on YouTube (every yearbook video I could find was just a page by page viewing of the yearbook; boring), I came up with my own idea:

A prolog running backwards in time showing some of the events we had lived through to get to where we were that day (wonder where I got that idea?) with pictures of me in the upper corner getting progressively younger until we reached that magical year of 1967.

This would be followed by individual pictures of each member of our class floating into view and then landing on a particular spot on the background, interspersed with little vignettes either drawn from the yearbook (like the King and Queen of Hearts Valentine's dance) and/or bits of audio recordings that I had preserved from those days (like a phone call with our English teacher Mrs. Papson; I was big into wire tapping in those days).

All would culminate in a final reveal of our graduation class photo when the viewer would realize that each person's picture has landed on her or his place in the group photo.

Here's the video:

I was not satisfied with the video, but after spending six weeks of doing practically nothing else, I was eager for someone to see it, so I uploaded it to YouTube and notified my former classmates. I was just exhausted from spending most of those six weeks scanning and cropping yearbook images, working around limitations of Final Cut Express, and trying to figure out exactly who was who in the graduation group photo.

That last task was especially difficult, and I spent at least two full days on it. The problem was that the faces in the photo were just a teensy tiny bit fuzzy, so only about a third of them were easy to identify. I was reasonably certain of another third of them, but the final third--those were just wild ass guesses. Everybody had to be somewhere, right?

As I was wrestling with the video editing software, I realized that I needed a little variation in the "floating into view" effect, so I began to occasionally do something different. As it happened I came to this realization about the time I got to the picture of Jeff Christ, who by common consent was our class clown; so I had his picture do a somersault accompanied by a rim shot.

There was no real method to the other variations; just if I could think of something as I got to their photos. Our Norwegian exchange student, Nana Due, appeared along with a map of Norway; the Gemini constellation for the Herr twins (a doubly meaningful symbol as I recalled that Arlene had had a big interest in astronomy in those days); a ouija board next to Carol Hill (you had to be there, and someday I might make a video of that party, as I have some of the audio to go with it); a little private joke for Dennis Keener; I have a photo of Skeet Seldomridge where he wrote on the back that I was always giving him a hard time, so I kept up the tradition when I got to his pic.

In the intervening years, my dissatisfaction with the video has grown. So what's the problem? Well, when the group photo appears at the end, it just doesn't "pop" the way I'd like it to, and I'm not sure what could be done about that. Then there's the prolog; in addition to making the video look dated by tying it to February 2009, it just doesn't have enough details in the backwards run through time; I got tired of trying to find video and photos of past events. Did I mention I hate to do research? I'd also like to polish off the interspersed vignettes a bit more, and I could go on. That said, there are lots of things in it that I do like, but there's always room for improvement.

(Two things that really annoy me about the backwards prolog: I decided early on that the backwards time travel should accelerate, which meant that the first decade or so would progress more slowly than the rest, which meant I spent much more time with the Clintons than intended; to keep from having a picture of Bill on the screen for so long, I switched to one of Hillary around 1995-93; alas, it was a photo of Hillary during her 2008 campaign. As I said, I hate to do research. Will anybody volunteer to be my research assistant? The other thing that bugs me is that if you listen to it in stereo, the video clip of Bill playing the sax is on the wrong side of the screen.)

And yes, if anyone should ask, it was no accident that as Mrs. Papson says the words "old fuddy-duddy teachers" a photo of Mr. Paine came into view. Make of that what you will.

UPDATE: Saundra informed me that I got Janice Nelson's name wrong. While I tried to be careful, apparently I did a little too much copying and pasting. If there is ever a version 2.0, this will be fixed. In the meantime, Janice, wherever you are, I'm sorry!