To the Death, Critique & Self Evaluation

Critique is one of my favorite parts about art school. You’re provided with this opportunity to view your work through new lenses and, considering that these are other art-minded folks, imagine what other-minded folk might think, too. There’s infinite potential. In a sense, though, critique is also daunting. It’s not fun to stand there and defend yourself against some opinions sometimes; especially when the notes are more observatory and less useful. It’s way different when someone says, “I don’t get it” versus, I don’t know, the colors could have been warmer to convey the romantic imagery you were shooting. You know? One of those is constructive. There are helpful things one could say, but there’s no guarantees with critiques.

The critique for this To the Death video was easily the worst critique I’ve had and that experience really solidified how important good, constructive criticism is to me. I always want to promote that, keep that dialogue going, so I thought I’d start right here, with To the Death.

Notes from my professor and classmates:

  • death reference seemed a little stiff
  • cut into action
  • love the energy
  • your work surprises me in a good way
  • music fits well with the mood of the video
  • I didn’t care for the fancy shiny transitions, they seemed a little cheesy
  • I think the pacing was a little problematic- the tone of the second half is completely different than the first, and there wasn’t any indication in your first act that that was gonna happen.
  • The part with the band lasted a little too long

My self-evaluation:

Overall, my goals for the To the Death were to document the true-to-life experience of the talented musicians and all around good people my bandmates are. I wanted specifically to document the transition from whatever it is that we do in our daily lives to the moments when we come together to make music. The biggest challenges were that I actually had no footage of all of us together and the fact that this particular configuration of my band is not the same as it was when we recorded the song. I chose it, though, for two reasons: the first was because of our strict 2 minute time limit. I didn’t just want to fade out on one of our longer songs, I worked with our engineer to cut out a short chunk of time without losing the falling action of the song. The other reason this particular song was chosen was for our listeners who, upon hearing it, deemed it a morbid concept. I wanted the video to show the opposite: that we live our lives on the day-to-day to leave an impression on the world  so that if were to die today, you could look back at the records of what we’ve created together and trace our histories. I illustrated this by focusing on what each of my characters’ hands are in the act of making or doing. Lighting was a really important factor, as well. Although I borrowed and set up other lights, it became apparent as I shot footage that what I really wanted was the light as it is at my house (kitchen window faces west, so the sunset lighting specifically and crazy colors downstairs), in the backyard with the flies swirling, especially when the sun comes in the kitchen window as we do dishes. It’s the little things like that that make the biggest impression on my everyday life.

All that said, there were a few edits that weren’t perfectly timed. While I tried to keep my transitions few and consistent, my classmates took that as being cheesy. Considering it was my second video attempt ever made, that it was my band’s original music, that it was my band starring in it (during real work time, etc), including filming myself, with $0.00 budget, I’m calling it a success.

Have opinions? Do tell.



Author: Brianna Wray

I'm an artist in Seattle just living the dream.

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