Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Matinee: Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Chapter Six

I can't believe we're halfway through Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe already. Why, it only seems like forty, fifty times we've seen that wide angle of Ming's throne room.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I don't know if it's a matte shot or a glass painting, but whichever it is, it's entirely convincing, and they had good reason to be proud of it. And if you've been watching these Saturday Matinee installments all along (or you caught up at some point), you no doubt find convincing effects shots, numerous and detailed sets, and intricate costumes an enormous relief after Undersea Kingdom. How many sets were there in total in that serial? Twelve?

This week, except for the regular opening credits, it's time to say goodbye to Source 1 (the MPEG-2 of the feature version). To be honest, though, I only used it for the occasional line last week. Its audio is better than that of Source 3 (the DVCam tapes of the Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe version), but it wouldn't sync up with the Source 3 video. One or the other of them must have been missing frames here or there (probably film breaks), but I was coming down to the deadline, so rather than figure it out, I just used Source 3 as source for both video and audio, dropping in Source 1's audio to cover a couple of digital-flaw squeaks.

Now, if I need to cover those errors, I need to do it with the vastly inferior Source 2 (the AVI files of Space Soldiers). And this week, I really could have used a good-quality alternative to Source 3, because it had quite a few snaps and squeaks. For the most part, I left them as they were, using Source 2 for one syllable at one point, and a longer but dialogue-less section later on when the snaps got out of hand.

Usually, the feature version of a serial is the whole main plot, condensed to about 80 minutes. That of Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is decidedly different. It simply contains everything, strung together... until it reaches the end of Part 1, above. Then it just has a bit of new narration, and stops dead.

And why not, really? Flash, Dale, and Zarkov are back together, and the Earth is safe from the Purple Death. Why not call it a day, and go home to the ticker tape parade?

Well, okay, in the serial, there is something else they have to attend to. Near the end of Part 1, Zarkov says to Barin, "Prince... I have learned from Karm that Ming is preparing another terrible weapon to destroy the world. We must return to your palace at once and prepare to combat it." You'll notice it isn't in the feature clip, above, for obvious reasons. I think it's the only line the feature editors cut from the serial.

And just to be super anal retentive, I used Source 3 for all the video in that clip (and matching the feature editing) except the "The End" caption, replacing the softer Source 1. Source 1 was the one and only audio source.

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