frayadjacent: Lao Ma (from Xena) staring intently (Xena: Lao Ma)
[personal profile] frayadjacent
I made another Xena vid! And sent it to Wiscon!

Title: Become You
Song: "Become You" by the Indigo Girls
Source: Xena: Warrior Princess
Characters: Xena, Lao Ma, M'lila, and Gabrielle. Caesar and Ming Tien also appear.
Length: 3:51
Content notes: Fast and stuttery cutting. Institutional and relationship violence (at the same level as depicted on the show). Spoilers through mid Season 5.
Summary: "I won't stop short for common ground/ that villifies the trodden down"

Thanks to [personal profile] thirdblindmouse for incredible beta feedback.

Download | Youtube | Vimeo

Captions should be available on the youtube and vimeo streams. They are also included in the downloadable zip file. If you don't want captions, just delete the .srt file.



More detailed notes

This vid tries to express my many thoughts and feelings about Lao Ma, M'Lila, their relationships with Xena, and the ethical questions that surround their relationships as well as Xena and Gabrielle's. I wanted a vid that gave Lao Ma and M'Lila a point of view. I had an easier time doing this with Lao Ma than with M'lila, as the former does get her own story and motivations far more than M'Lila. I wanted to celebrate the extreme shippiness of the relationships, especially that of Xena and Ms "I don't eat meat" Lao Ma. 

I think that Lao Ma would have agreed that Xena's warlordism ultimately sustains the kind of world where tyrants like Caesar, Ming Tzu, and later Ming Tien can thrive, even if she hates them. Part of me hates that Lao Ma allowed Ming Tien to kill her, whether it was out of motherly love or out of what I would consider a misguided pacifism. Which brings me to the last part of the vid -- even though Xena learned from Lao Ma and later from Gabrielle to discard her warlord past, she never stopped being a warrior. Gabrielle's moral objections to Xena trying to assassinate Ming Tien were ultimately naive, as Xena always knew*.

Gabrielle's naive pacifism (unlike the more complex pacifism she moves toward in S4) ultimately props up tyrants just as Xena's warlordism did.

In retrospect, it might have been a bit much for one vid to handle, but I'm still pretty happy with this vid. Even if most viewers mostly get squishy femslash feels from it, I'll be glad to at least have given some attention to Lao Ma and M'lila, both of whom deserve more than what they got from the show's narrative. (Though I was in many ways pretty happy with Lao Ma's characterization. There are problems with Orientalist gaze and with Lao Ma being a dead WOC mentor to a white woman, but that is in no way ALL of what she is, as this vid tries to show.)

What I learned: How to use After Effects to feather a mask! And I realized that I can use different blend modes when I layer clips and it'll often look much nicer. Also, that moment at 2:56 when Xena is waving Caesar's flag around and it dissolves to Gabrielle's face, and the up-down motion of the clips matches REALLY WELL? That was a total accident, but it finally helped me understand working with motion in vidding on another level. Uh, I'm not sure I have words for that level though. I hope I can repeat that sort of thing in the future but, you know, intentionally.

*This of course leaves off the more fundamental problem that Ming Tien's subjects need to be saved by a white woman, that without her (or Lao Ma) they are incapable of overthrowing a hated tyrant themselves.

Lyrics

I heard you sing a rebel song,
sung it loud and all alone.
We can't afford the things you save,
we can't afford the warranty.
I see you walking in the glare
down the county road we share.
Our southern blood, my heresy,
damn that ol' confederacy.

It took a long time to
become the thing I am to you.
And you won't tear it apart
without a fight, without a heart.

I'm sorry for what you have learned,
when you feel the tables turn.
To run so hard in your race,
now you find who set the pace.
The landed aristocracy
exploiting all your enmity.
All your daddies fought in vain,
leave you with the mark of Cain.

It took a long time to
become the thing I am to you.
And you won't tear it apart
without a fight, without a heart.
It took a long time to
become you, become you.

The center holds, so they say.
It never held too well for me.
I won't stop short for common ground
that vilifies the trodden down.
The center held the bonded slave
for the sake of industry.
The center held the bloody hand
of the executioner man.

It took a long time to
become the thing I am to you.
And you won't tear it apart
without a fight, without a heart.
It took a long time to
become you, become you.

Off Latest Things page

on 25/5/14 07:00 am (UTC)
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] needled_ink_1975
One of my fav Indigo Girls songs, plus X:WP... Guh. This is beyond awesome, really.

Knowing the song by heart made it even more awesome, I think, because I could focus on the images and transitions. And the editing really left my jaw on my desk.*

Also, first view on YouTube. If I had an account there I so woulda said, "FIRST!" and been proud of it, because wow.

Thanks!

–N

* I'm currently trying vidding, or I was. Turns out I'm pretty damn good at music editing, but I can't make the scenes... *flow*, or something. Then again, I'm not working with lyrics. I'm using orchestral music (LotR. Yes, I know: idjit me for diving in the deep end *wry grin*)

Re: Off Latest Things page

on 25/5/14 01:04 pm (UTC)
needled_ink_1975: A snarling cougar; colored pencil on paper (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] needled_ink_1975
Suggestions greatly appreciated; really, thanks. I'm mostly clueless, but keen to learn, and being pointed in the right direction is always good.

I'd really like to muck about with vidding, especially where I argue with direction/editing of whichever material. It was based on my comments about why I hated several scene transitions in a movie, and how it would've been better and made more sense *this* way, that someone said I should try vidding.

I think this first one that I'm meddling with will probably end up as one of those fan-edited overtures (cos I'm not throwing away the 15+ hours of music editing), with a few stills chucked in. Using song lyrics—as you did with "Become You"—is something that I think would help to propel the vid and suggest scene changes. Lyrics plus moving pictures Next!

(we will ignore my wife, who cheekily suggested that I should write lyrics to the LotR music. And she calls *me* a brat)

Thanks again.

on 25/5/14 08:11 am (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] endeni
Yay, new vid!! But the download link doesn't seem to work for me?

on 25/5/14 08:30 am (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] endeni
Yay, downloading! ^^

on 25/5/14 01:31 pm (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] endeni
Just watched and oh, wow, it was good. And very moving, especially the last part, with the lyrics going "it took a long time to become you" and all the woman seemingly being interconnected and influenced by each other. ^^

on 25/5/14 11:22 am (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (calvinfeedback)
Posted by [personal profile] calvinahobbes
I haven't seen this Xena-arc, so i can't really comment on the argument, but I loved the editing in this - it was so smooth, and it worked so well. I especially enjoyed all these... "previews"? you worked in in the beginning, like how the sequences would overlap like AAABAAABBAABBBABBBB, if that makes sense. (Talk about lacking a vid vocabulary.) Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this without knowing anything about the source, and I am impressed with your progress!

on 25/5/14 10:58 pm (UTC)
chaila: Diana SWORDFIGHTING in a BALLGOWN. (wonder woman - warrior princess)
Posted by [personal profile] chaila
This is such a lovely vid. As you know, I have not seen Xena (I KNOW) so a lot of the nuance went over my head, but I still got a lot of complex femslashy interactions. Which is already a lot! And multiple women, including women of color, with different points of view about complex things, and women having complex relationships and women being attracted to each other, all mixed up in one vid! And that whole section around 2:56 with the flag waving and the other object (a weapon?) moving and Gabrielle's face, was excellent. Even though I'm missing canon context, I think you handled the multiple points of view really well. Words for vidding are hard, but I liked it!

on 27/5/14 01:12 am (UTC)
rhivolution: David Tennant does the Thinker (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] rhivolution
Thanks, I've taken to watch as this is a favourite track of mine!

on 27/5/14 05:29 am (UTC)
violace: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] violace
I haven't seen Xena but I greatly enjoyed this! It's really interesting to watch your "evolution" as a vidder from vid to vid -- I love how you made motion-y clips work with the beats, especially in the fighting sequences and some of the little body movements like Xena's headtilt at 00:57. <333 And the overlays/layered clips worked so well!

on 27/5/14 07:13 am (UTC)
violace: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] violace
lol that sounded really nebulous, didn't it? I just mean that it's visible how you utilize the techniques you've learned and talked about on previous vids -- like the faster cutting in Tightrope, for example -- and put them to use again and kind of "refine" them and that's so cool. :D

on 28/5/14 04:56 am (UTC)
thirdblindmouse: Steph carries Cass in her arms. (Cass/Steph)
Posted by [personal profile] thirdblindmouse
I last saw this vid back when it was a gawky adolescent, charming but in many ways unformed. It has grown up so beautiful and graceful I want to cry. What you have done with the motifs of fire and water is perfect*, and if Xena had not taught me better I would kill for your way with motion in this vid. Not only bravura moments like 2:50 (*_*) or the push forward thingy uniting Gabrielle and Lao Ma around 3:14, but also the way you keep the movement flowing with the music throughout. Or not flowing, as the case may be -- both the drum sections around 0:40 and 1:06 make me clap, they fit the music so well. Which is maybe a given after Tightrope (still so awesome).

The Gabrielle section I was concerned about diverging from/dominating the vid before is now perfectly integrated. The vid ends up conveying the journey of four women's navigation of nonviolent vs. violent responses to tyranny with basically equal focus on all four (taking into account that Xena is Xena). You do a really impressive job there, given how unevenly distributed the available footage is. Before you started making this vid I doubted that a M'lila vid could be made, but now there's proof, and it's glorious and smart.

*OMG, the first shot of Xena is her running away from water! :D It's my 5th rewatch and I just got that!
Edited on 28/5/14 05:46 am (UTC)

on 29/5/14 04:56 pm (UTC)
garrideb: The wasp stands in snow, holding Captain America's shield (Wasp shield)
Posted by [personal profile] garrideb
I love how you found a fast motion to match with each cymbal clash in the song without breaking the narrative of the vid. The editing in this was just top-notch fabulous, really! You have a great sense of when to let us linger on the characters' faces and when to speed it up with battle scenes.

I don't remember seeing these episodes of Xena, so it might be time to visit the library and check out some DVDs! I really enjoyed watching this vid, so thank you!

on 5/6/14 06:51 pm (UTC)
ghost_lingering: Crichton got hit with a television set (fandom: we have DOLLUCKS!)
Posted by [personal profile] ghost_lingering
This is a really interesting vid! It makes me wish I remembered more of Xena -- I know there's stuff I'm missing because I don't really remember the context -- but it's a really lovely vid, visually, to watch even if I know I'm missing parts of the story. And wow, so much slashiness, I love it.

on 9/6/14 01:26 am (UTC)
lady_songsmith: owl (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lady_songsmith
Here from vidding.

I really enjoyed this vid! I haven't seen Xena in ages, but you remind me why I liked it in spite of the cheese. I really like the equation of Gabrielle with Lao Ma in the pacifist role and at the same time the implication that Xena is stepping into Lao Ma's mentor role so there's a kind of circle going on.

on 23/3/17 04:12 am (UTC)
aurumcalendula: gold, blue, orange, and purple shapes on a black background (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] aurumcalendula
I love this vid!

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