Finding Horror in Humor

For the video trailer project, I chose to recreate the family-oriented 1999 film Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace into Star Wars: The Shadow Threat, a movie from the horror genre.  I did this in several ways, using techniques that can be found in the horror genre, and were generally reflected in the trailers I researched from the genre.

One of the techniques I used was varying the length of my cuts, which Bernard Dick talks about.  He says that by varying the length of cuts and shots one can change the rhythm, with longer shots providing a slower rhythm and shorter cuts creating a faster rhythm.  I attempted to do this throughout the trailer, starting off with longer shots and a slower tempo, eventually building up to much faster ones to speed up to the climax of the trailer.  This is very similar to how modern horror movies are marketed, starting trailers with long opening sequences that build up the action to arrive at the conclusion.

Next, I paid attention to providing time between the shots in the trailer.  Like Scott McCloud discusses, this is so that the audience can use closure to get a full picture of what’s happening.  This is especially helpful in a project like this, where dissected cuts from the original film can be taken out of the original context, and then implemented in a way that allows a different interpretation of their meaning.  I use this to portray two scenes that appear to be occurring at the same time, as well as building suspense throughout the trailer.

Lastly, I chose music that I felt strongly reflected horror.  For the music in the trailer, it needed to be able to build suspense in way that would put the audience on edge.  Choosing music for this project is one of the most essential steps, for reasons that Jessica Abel points out.  In her discussion on sounds and music, she states that music and the sounds accompanying it are emotional tools that tie together the plot.  This is similar to the visual closure in the sense that the audience uses the audio as part of their interpretation of the media.

I ran into a few issues creating this project, but I’d say that the largest of them revolves around the audio.  While making the audio in sequence, there were several times where I needed to lower background music as spoken lines needed to be the focus of attention.  However, the volume levels while editing the video were different from those in the exported media file, at least from what I could tell.  Thus I had to export several times, changing the audio levels in sequence between each export until I finally found a levelling that was acceptable.  I would recommend to future students to be careful of this, and play the exported video on both headphones and speakers to ensure that the correct audio levels are in the final trailer.

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