Nov 3, 2012

What is a movie montage?

You'll be wondering "who is this girl to talk about movie montages?". Well, here are my credentials:
My montages on Youtube

Now, let's define the concepts of "viral video", "remix", "mashup", "supercut", "compilation", "top list video", "fanvid", "video tribute" and "movie montage", which are frequently mistaken. And we'll see some examples to illustrate them.

VIRAL VIDEO is a video that becomes popular through the process of internet sharing (video websites, social networks and e-mail). A movie montage can become a viral video, but that's not the point of editing movie montages, is it?

REMIX is the adoption, alteration and recombination of pre-existing material to create something new, mostly in a musical sense. The star of this type of video is not the image, but the audio. This one's great, by Pogo:

MASHUP or "mash-up" is the "combination of multiple sources of videos which usually have no relation with each other than a derivative work, often lampooing its component sources or another text. Many mashup videos are humorous movie trailer parodies" (extracted from wikipedia). Here is one of the best I've seen, by Vayabobo:

SUPERCUT is defined as a fast-paced montage of short video clips that obsessively isolates a single element from its source, usually a word, phrase, or cliche from film and TV. It can be set to music or not. Here is a very clear example, from the tv series "Community", edited by Zack Prewitt:

COMPILATION is generally a media product that is put together by assembling previously separate items. As a video, it's simply the accumulation of clips with a common theme, it doesn't need any real editing work, it's just a copy/paste of the unmodified clips in no particular order. This one is a classic example:

TOP LIST VIDEO is a compilation but in a particular order, as a countdown to the number 1. It can be a Top Best based on an official list or a personal Top Favorite of the editor, and it can be set to music. This one is edited by my friend Claudia:

FANVID is a fan-made video set to a song celebrating, like other fandom media, a film, tv show, music band, actor... in a very passionate, non-professional way (and I don't mean to underestimate them, I'm just saying that people who name their videos as "fanvids" are usually young and amateur, not film lovers, but huge fans of a film, saga or character, mostly fan phenomena products). Fanvids are edited by fans for fans, meaning that, for example, if you're not a Twilight fan, you can't possibly enjoy a Twilight fanvid. A very common variety of fanvids is the FanFiction.

VIDEO TRIBUTE is a generic term to name an audiovisual work that pays homage (shows gratitude, respect, admiration, even love) to something, in this case a film, a tv show, a director, a performer, a genre, etc.

And MOVIE MONTAGE is the object of this blog. "Montage" is the process, technique and product of selecting, piecing and editing together separate sections of audiovisual material to form a continuous whole. So everything we've seen before could fit in this definition but, as a movie montage editor myself, I like defining it with a little more precision, from a more personal perspective. I've asked a couple of fellow editors how they understand a "movie montage", to help explain what I mean.

My friend somersetVIIan excellent editor with a special talent to portray his point of view, his great love for films, defines it like this: "It's a way for film lovers to take what they're passionate about and have continued appreciation by manipulating the material. Whatever way you package it, you're trying to pay homage to someone else's work. At the end of the day, my goal is not to make them for anyone but myself". His definition confirms the way I see his work, he edits using both his brains and his heart, and it's undeniable how personal and special his videos are. His editing flows in a very natural, instinctive, musical way, and he gets the highest video quality I've seen on Youtube. Oh, and his music choices are often brilliant. Here is an example:  

The lovely Claudia (monroesmile) expressed her idea of movie montage with the same passion she edits her wonderful tributes: "A movie montage is a way by which the beauty and meaning of films with its famous moments and wonderful faces can be compacted into a few short minutes. Film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world and via a montage you compress that power so it overwhelms the viewer with the strong emotions they feel for that moment, movie, character, actor or director". Claudia is an expert in classic movies, black and white cinema, the Golden Age of Hollywood. And, in my opinion, her greatest talent is the way she captures the essence of a movie star, like she did with this most heartfelt Marilyn tribute:

Another fellow editor of mine, ebcooper44, gave me this beautiful phrase: "I choose movies I love and I try to find a way to make a video so when someone sees it, they understand why I love the movie so much". I think that is precisely the essence of a film tribute video. I also agree, wholeheartedly, with the conviction behind something he wrote in the description of a Halloween video he edited a couple of years ago: "I only included Halloween films that I really like, not because I think they are the best but because I like these more than others". That's honesty, that's consistency, that's true love for movies. Here's one of his most original works:

My husband, a video editor too, known as Brutzelpretzel around the net, wrote this for me: "A movie montage is a compilation of movie moments related to a particular theme (a film, a character, a technique, a genre, a director...), portraying an idea around that theme (its characteristics, for example, or what it means to the editor) and edited as a short audiovisual piece. A good movie montage, for me, has a clear idea behind it, follows some sort of narrative line so it doesn't feel repetitive, and its final purpose is not just showing the editor's skills". For my man, it's all about knowing what you wanna say with the montage and being honest about it:

Now, what is a movie montage for me? Well, it's the personal editing work of a film lover, and its main purpose is paying tribute to a movie related theme. It should be a TECHNICAL EXERCISE as well as a TOKEN OF LOVE and even a commentary or MEDITATION. An editor is a compiler, a technician and an artisan, but in this case he's also like a humble admirer writing a love letter. I've seen many movie montage editors who call themselves "creators". Nonsense. If you want to be a real creator, write a novel, direct a film, build a sculpture, draw a comic-book. If you wanna edit a movie montage, you have to understand that the real creation are the films you're using. Your work might be creative, and it is a form of art indeed, but you're not creating anything original from scratch, what you're doing is re-creating the magic of a pre-existent material. RE-CREATION, for me, is the perfect word for a movie montage. When I edit a tribute to a genre, for example, I try to condense its structure, highlights and feeling in a few minutes, so that when you watch the video, you can recognize the essence of these films and remember why you love them so much: