Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy won numerous, superlative accolades when it debuted at the end of 2010. I’m generally unaware of even the biggest pop albums, but when I heard MBDTF on my brother’s iPod on the way home for Thanksgiving last year, I decided this was an album I needed to own. I’ve bonded with a few friends over this album, but none more than Patrick Ehlers, who sent me this image in February of 2011:
I suppose for this image to make sense, you’d need to have both read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and have heard “Power” off of the aforementioned album. It also helps to understand that Patrick and I first bonded over Batman and/or Frank Miller comics. At any rate, Patrick and I immediately decided that we wanted to turn the final fight scene from TDKR into a music video for the song, and set to some pretty in-depth storyboading.
We immediately ran into some snags. The first was the fact that the scene was littered with text boxes and speech bubbles. To get this video to look good, we’d need to remove those, requiring a level of image-editing skills that neither of us had the skills nor software for. We also ran into a brick wall as far as pacing anything beyond the first minute of the song. In short, the song is too long for our purposes, and the narrative of that scene is a little too convoluted to tell using only the images.
I initially made a proof-of-concept video of just the first few lines, but we more or less abandoned the project before ever figuring out how we might end it. A couple months ago, I got bored and made the rest of the video as we had storyboarded it. It’s still largely proof-of-concept-y (text blocks litter the images), and the images abruptly end after little more than a minute of the song, but I’m actually really happy with what it is. Still, I’d never show it to anyone, since it’s not really a finished product. While I’m reluctant to show people a work in progress, this is really more of an abandoned half-finished rough draft, so not something anyone likes sharing with others. Also, it’s an incredibly nerdy idea that only a narrow percentage of my friends might appreciate (many of the images are so small and go by so quickly, they only really mean anything if you’ve read the comic), so I’m not sure if anyone would really be interested in it anyway.
All this is to say, I have a lot of semi-valid excuses for not wanting to share this thing, but that actually really depresses me, because I’m not sure this will ever be a finished product, and I hate the idea of such a cool concept being forgotten just because it couldn’t stick the landing. There are just so many great thematic parallels between these two works. While they may not match up temporally, Kanye’s bridge of “This would be a beautiful death” mirrors Bruce Wayne’s observations throughout the book that his near-death experiences “would be a good death, but not good enough.” I think the idea of these things working together works better than the reality of it, but I think that’s okay. In the spirit of Sharing Something, I’m going to share this video in spite of its incompleteness:
Usually, when I have a project this incomplete or that I can’t figure out how to finish, I would gladly abandon it, but there’s something about this particular idea that has me hooked. I have kind of given up on ever really being able to stick the landing, which has made me lament the fact that we generally only pay attention to fully formed, polished works of art. I’m not sure this idea will ever get that level of polish, but I still think it’s neat enough for people to look at for a minute and think “that was neat,” which is really all I could hope for even if it was finished. In that way, this video is kind of tailor-made for Sharing Something, which makes me kind of guilty for using it here.
The problem with this format is that, while it does facilitate me sharing projects that would otherwise be stifled or buried by my perfectionism, it also allows me to make excuses for its problems, or at least put some distance between me and the project by taking on a critical role. This allows me to present them with their blemishes without really confronting the fear of presenting a work with blemishes. I may still be in the baby steps stage of developing this comfort, but I’m realizing the explanations I offer for context have the danger of becoming crutches.
That said, I’m actually not that worried about blemishes and errors on this. Sure, there are still distracting text blocks, and all the images are static (we toyed with the idea of learning some flash to make some more dynamic camera moves), but it’s a rough draft. These were mostly dropped in to see if the timings made sense, and for that, it works perfectly. The thing that actually bothers me is that it isn’t a complete rough draft; that we never figured out how to end it. At this point though, we haven’t exactly been looking for solutions recently, so maybe it’s high time that we just went ahead and posted what we had. Like I said, I kind of like it more as an idea than as an actual artifact. Maybe that’s just an excuse, but at any rate, I’m not sure anybody would see this if I didn’t post it here.
If anyone can figure out how to storyboard the rest of it, let me know.