Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Classic Serials: Undersea Kingdom (Faster-Paced Version), Chapter Five

I mentioned before that these edited versions I made in 2008-9 used lower-quality originals than the full-length versions I'm currently posting.  And that YouTube presented the first four installments (covering Chapters One through Three) in a maximum resolution of 360p.  So I figured that at least I could do something about those.  I re-encoded them to MPEG-4 from my DV originals, and re-uploaded them to YouTube.  (I re-encoded them because I'd had to use less than the maximum quality in 2008 in order to meet YouTube's then-limit of 1GB per video.)  Now the posts for those chapters show the new 480p versions.  You're welcome.

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(originally posted November 29, 2008)

Yes, edited for the length limit of YouTube and improved pace, it's the latest episode of the 1936 Republic serial Undersea Kingdom... the serial that makes you ask, "If Crash dressed up Hacker in his White Robe Commander outfit, complete with spangled briefs, and Hacker returns to the tower in his own black underpants, does that mean that, under his stolen Black Robe tunic, Crash is operating al fresco?"

Oh, and, "Why does the Black Robe Commander's room have a huge-ass bolt on the outside? Do they have to restrain him after the occasional bender?"

And by the way, let's hear it for Supreme Atlantean Military Commander Crash, who abandons his command, unannounced, to go rescue his friends.

As you may have figured from how much I blather on about it, editing Undersea Kingdom is my favorite part of running the Thrilling Wonder Stories blog. This week, I felt a sense of accomplishment, inasmuch as this chapter was the most difficult yet to pare down to ten minutes. I think there was only one whole scene I could cut out, so mostly, it was a matter of whittling sequences wherever I could.

My favorite edit, for some reason, was a very simple one. In the original version, Ditmar, outside the lab door, yells, "Norton! Open the door!" Cut to inside, where Diana and Billy react as Ditmar yells again, "Open the door!" I saved a few seconds by cutting from the outside shot at "Open the—" to the inside shot at "—door!"

Luckily for the editor's sanity, Undersea Kingdom's score consists of just a few pieces, repeated endlessly. I'm guessing they were specially designed for easy transitions from one to another as the on-screen action dictated. I imagine the musically-inclined, were they to listen closely to my version, would be appalled, but to me, anyway, usually a two- to four-frame fade is enough for a music edit not to call attention to itself.

Other times, though, that's not good enough. And this chapter required more moving around of sound edit in and out points, and wholesale moving around of music and/or sound effects than any yet. For instance, the bit where Billy leaves the city and sneaks aboard a wagon was originally after a much longer retreat sequence—the result being the background was much more quiet. So I moved the soundtrack from part of the excised material so that, aurally, the retreat is ongoing as Billy makes his exit. And the music cue that begins as Billy climbs the spiral staircase actually belongs to the sequence after the cut, which helps sell the idea that the top of the staircase is somewhere back in the crevice we next see him in. (It originally wasn't, of course—that's just where he hid when a Volkite happened by.)

Again, one of my favorites is very simple. The beep when Moloch activates the reflector plate originally continued into the next shot, where it's a call signal that Khan and Ditmar cross the room to answer. I cut that shot, but continued and faded out the beep over the next shot, so now it's the sound of turning on the reflector plate, with Khan and Ditmar already there on the other end.

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