A Day in the Life: Using the Music - a Dead Zone vid by Shalott and Speranza

Curator's Note

One of the challenges vidders face is finding a song with lyrics that work for the character and acquiring the technical expertise to cut to the beat. The best vids go beyond that. “A Day in the Life” illustrates many other elements of the music through the clip, transition and effect choices. The source footage comes from “The Dead Zone,” a series about a man named John Smith who has visions triggered by touching someone or something. The stream of consciousness reverie of the lyrics allows the vid to explore the visions Johnny finds himself being dragged through. The slow cross fades in the beginning match the slow rhythm in the beginning of the song. The clip cutting gets faster and faster as we get to the crescendo, supporting the tension that is already in the music and giving the viewer a sense of being overwhelmed. The middle section of the song is lighter and more concrete than the rest. This becomes a fantasy sequence showing what Johnny's life would have been like had he not developed this ability. The clips are suddenly more literal with fewer visual effects and more straightforward transitions. The final crescendo is an incredibly tense moment in the song where the vid has set the viewer up to expect overwhelming fast cuts. Instead, the viewer gets one long uncut sequence - the pivotal moment of the series. Giving the viewer long and slow when they are expecting fast and overwhelming creates suspense. This increases the impact of the final image of the vid. One of the lovely things for viewers who know the show and the song is the way it weaves the song and the visuals together to give a richer experience of both. But for those who do not know the show, this vid tells its narrative independently, relying on our familiarity with the song to create a meaning all of its own.


Jackie, I love this vid because it exemplifies for me the ability of vids to make sense with little or no knowledge of the source text. You point out that familiarity with and love for show and song mutually enhance and create something larger than both, but I'm always particularly impressed when a vid manages to work without that previous knowledge/love. "A Day in the Life" does that for me--telling a (the?) story so very clearly and visually stunningly for even an outsider to understand (though I have, since then, actually watched the first two seasons, in no small parts because of the vid). I appreciate the way you focus on speed and pacing--that crescendo toward the end of the first section is just amazingly edited, effectively matching the noise with the chaos of Johnny's life spinning out of control as the images spin and accelerate, ever more violent and chaotic. In turn, I hadn't thought about contrasting it to the finale and the long shot towards a devastated Washington, but it's equally powerful, isn't it? If Laura's vid yesterday showcased the feminist counterreading potential of vids, this one clearly illustrates another form of interpretive power and the way selecting and editing from dozens of hours of material produces this analytic and creative piece. [Also, don't you just love the way imeem feeds other vids as followups--most of them pretty darn good, so that we're showcasing not just these works but via imeem, a bunch of others as well?]

What an impressive vid! The alignment of image to music, including rhythm and lyrics, is really something—made more difficult, I would think, in that it’s put to a song that is so virtuosic and so familiar at the same time. It takes the viewer’s expectation of play with words and pacing and takes it further, pushing its performance as a vid to a whole other level. I truly feel that this vid performs, by offering us this instance of “A Day in the Life” and putting the song to new use, to provide an emotional interpretation/rendition of the show. I think that maybe what I find most striking about it is that it makes use of a piece of music that is so meaningful for so many; it’s like the music has the impact and complexity for most viewers/listeners that the televisual source text has for fans—equally weighted with emotion and context. So this vid interpellates or creates a fannish viewing position even for a non-fan viewer. I’m glad you chose this vid for this forum; just as Kristina suggested, it offers an access point for non fannish viewers. Not only is it accessible for viewers who don’t know The Dead Zone, it also offers a sense of the pleasures and investments at work in viewing a fanvid.

I agree that this vid does an exemplary job of telling a story that's accessible (in different ways) to both viewers and non-viewers. Not knowing the source, the disintegration of the protagonist's mind and world came as a pleasant surprise to me after the gentle beginning. The aleatory sequence in the middle, before he wakes up, is especially astonishing.

Kristina - Yes! I love the Imeem feeds. It makes me want to start a rec list. Oh look - Big Red Boat, Heart of Funkness, Ecstatic Drumtrip, Crazy... Louisa - In a way, the Dead Zone clips refresh the song, like a new coat of paint on an old house. It makes us look at something we've taken for granted in a new way.

The last shot of the vid makes me want to go "woah" like Neo, even though I don't know anything about the context. I've barely heard of this show but I wonder now, even while I'm curious to see it, whether it can live up to this super-compressed montage. What if I've already seen the best bits, and seen them cut faster with more effects than the show can offer? (You can't tell these days, can you... is the digital fancy-work part of the original, or the vidder's add-on, a decorative improvement?) Superb cutting-to-percussion at 00.49-00.52.

Well, that is the compelling thing about fandom for those who are in it. The shows almost never live up to the vids - especially really well made vids like this one. But, if you are lucky, you can hold the vid (or really good fanfiction) in your head while watching the show and can see the show from the vidder's (or writer's) perspective which makes the show itself more interesting.

By Anonymous

I'm another one who is compelled by this vid into wanting to see the show -- one more for the list of TV shows where I'm interested in canon mostly as a means to better appreciate fan production! I definitely found the familiarity and emotional heft of the song to be a great way into this -- from the first bars and the first shot, even before the virtuoso editing kicked in, I was totally engrossed and emotionally as well as intellectually engaged. It was like shorthand for the investment in a character we get from watching a show, I think; this is definitely a wonderful vid for introducing people to the artform.

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