I started work on this December 12th and just finished hammering out the details (and by details, I mean removing glitches in one of the clips I used by converting it to another format… )
I had meant to write a couple entries explaining my creative process, but it just got so exhausting that I decided to wait until the end after posting part 1 😛
Considering how tiring a process it was (and the fact I may not be able to listen to this song again without a pang of nervousness surging through me… I do calm down into the 2nd verse but that’s not the point), this might be my only time doing this.
But on the off-chance I do, it’ll be when I find the perfect song… and preferably something much happier and more upbeat, haha
Just like I don’t want to always remember Evgeni Plushenko for this difficult injury…
so again, these things go eerily in hand with one another.
“Precious” by Depeche Mode
Their greatest hits album was one of my musical highlights last year. I got so hooked on it when I was commuting to and from work. I got it originally so I could own “Enjoy the Silence” and “People are People”… then I found 5 other songs I truly fell in love with.
I remember where I was on that commute when “Precious” first hit me as possibly the best song of the compilation.
The music was spooky in a good way. But when I really listened to the lyrics, I started making the connections I later made in my video.
Windows Movie Maker 12
plus two websites: one that helped me get the clips and another for online conversions.
WMM is tricky because it requires certain formats for things to run smoothly… like the videos have to be wmv’s and music, I had to convert to .wav…
The Internet is a pretty amazing thing. As if I didn’t already feel that way because this guy made me a Twitter addict between February and May… to a degree, that is still true 😛 it’s the 3rd website I check after my email.
Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko
2 time Olympic gold medalist (2006, 2014- team competition)
2 time Olympic silver medalist (2002, 2010)
I could be wrong about my date… February 9th… it would be the 8th for all I know 😛 I didn’t keep track of any of this until later in the month when the dreams started
whenever the heck the free skate for the team competition was…
He was someone I vaguely remembered from the Vancouver Olympics because he was outspoken about getting Silver and the Gold medalist (oddly enough from the U.S.) won without a quadruple jump.
[after the flame in Sochi went out, I revisited this in another entry]
I only remembered the controversy and that he was from Russia and also that he was one of the best in the world…
missing his short program in Sochi by mere minutes, hearing Jeremy Abbott talk about him brought some of those memories back and I looked for him in the free skate.
Sure he had all the jumps and combinations, but I never saw anyone hold themselves on the ice like that… it was a show to him… didn’t know after that whether he’d be skating for an individual medal as well… to my memory, it would all depend on how he was feeling… but there he was on Thursday February 13th…
still one of the toughest things I’d witnessed in my life…
Needless to say, I followed his recovery very closely after that… it’s still unclear if his retirement is for real or not… but this being almost a year later, he’s not fully recovered but I doubt anyone else could have gotten back to form as well as he did.
The Story- as told by YouTube clips
When I daydreamed to this song, I knew what I wanted to see in certain areas.
Part 1 would focus on Sochi.
The 2nd chorus would be his first time on the ice skating after the surgery… it was in May, 2 months after the surgery.
The instrumental break afterwards would feature his step sequences, which I find to be the most magical part of his skating.
The 3rd chorus would include clips from his first exhibition, which was in Sendai Japan (he was invited by current Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu)
And the final moment would be his first jump after the surgery, a triple toe loop (a couple weeks after his first skate).
Other than that, I did a lot of experimenting.
Emotionally, I knew part 1 would be the hardest. The failed triple axels were difficult enough to watch the first time. Yet it was the one part of my montage that I had the clearest vision for.
The fact I got his pose to synch up perfectly to the dramatic tone in the music… that was complete luck. It was THE moment he grabbed my attention and never lost it, so that was important to line up and I didn’t even have to try that hard to line it up. It just worked out that way on its own.
No other moments really stood out, so whatever lined up with the music, I used.
And to help streamline the storyline I was portraying, I had to show a completed triple axel from that program. Bring in a couple moments from February 13th to foreshadow. His next jump was, I believe, a triple salchow that he had to downgrade because his muscles were starting to ache.
From that point forward, February 13th was the focus, the bad jumps, the disappointment as he came off the ice and going into the locker room.
The next minute or so were full of clips that just looked good together.
[not all are in order, btw]
2002 Olympics- “Carmen”- I wouldn’t put in my top 10 all-time favorite programs, but the clips fit so well to the music that it was hard to resist
2010 European Championships- “Concierto de Aranjuez”- one of his most beautiful programs, so I used some clips to help demonstrate that
2010- “Tango Amore”- Art on Ice- the steps just worked to the music
2011- exhibition in St. Petersburg- “Maybe I, Maybe You” by The Scorpions- this was a late addition to my series of clips. I recently watched it again because I “liked” it on YouTube and found it had great show of emotion. The moments I used here don’t last long, but they fit in my scheme of things as well as brought some life into the video. At this point, his composure (beyond “Carmen”) was very stoic and composed.
2003 Grand Prix Final- “St. Petersburg 300”- a program that strikes a balance between beauty and power- the first pose I used conveyed that lyric so well, I couldn’t not use it. The 2nd clip features one of his most beautiful spins EVER.
2005 Stars on Ice in St. Petersburg- someone on his Facebook page posted this exhibition maybe a week after his injury… ironically, it was his first show after another of his many surgeries. He starts out on a crutch. And as if before our eyes, he slowly healed. 😛 of course he probably was better off than he let on in the early moments, but I prefer to hold on that “miraculous illusion” as long as I possibly can.
The first clip I showed from this was a moment for me to smile in the middle of this otherwise serious montage.
2004 Russian National Championships- “Tango and Flamenco”- again, simply worked to the music
2005 Cup of Russia exhibition- “Song for my beloved city”- the steps worked to the music; the pose was a stand-out moment from that program
(again, “Maybe I, Maybe you” brings emotion and life in a short time)
…I don’t know when I got my idea for one particular lyric, but a poignant moment of stillness was needed…
“If God has a master plan, that only he understands,
I hope it’s your eyes he’s seeing through
It probably goes back to before I decided a YouTube montage was needed…
but I think it stood out to me because I’d asked God every night to take care of Plushenko and help him through his recovery and this was just a visual way of conveying that message.
The footage I spliced together was from “Concierto de Aranjuez” and “Godfather” (a program that helped him win Gold at Torino).
Chorus 2- I mean, every step he took in this recovery felt like a miracle to me… when I heard he was back on the ice after 2 months, I was nervous. Then when I found the video of it (conventionally, he was doing a TV show for Japan where he was spending time with Miyu Honda, a young actress), I nearly cried. Mostly because it looked like he’d never left the ice.
But of course, he’d been doing this since he was 11 (so 20 years really), so it’s the equivalent of that “It’s like riding a bike” cliché.
I first wanted to focus on the important moments: taking the skate guards off, feeling them out for the first time in two months, the first steps and just him freely skating around.
For the purpose of this video, I didn’t want to focus on his jumping except in the critical moments, moments of importance to my message… plus we all know he can jump 😛 the step sequences stand out to me because, as I said, it’s where the magic happens for me. When other people use them in their programs, they just feel like a required element. When he does them, they really matter. Tying the whole routine together as a whole. Plus it’s where his showmanship and charisma really shines.
My absolute favorite of his programs is “Tosca Fantasy”… the first time I saw it, I was watching the 2006 Olympic gala where Edvin Marton (he composed this particular arrangement) played his violin on the ice with him while he skated. It didn’t make up completely for him not being at Sochi’s Olympic gala, but it helped quite a bit.
I love it for how he brings the music to life with his skating. And the footwork especially stood out. Probably the reason why I love his step sequences so much. (and also how I quickly became an Edvin Marton fan)
The version I used was from the Marshall’s Cup gala, which he did shortly after he won Olympic gold in Torino.
I was making my montage, asking myself after a certain point why I hadn’t used it yet. Especially since those steps kept coming to mind when I was daydreaming over this music.
So for my “the best of” with step sequences, I also had:
St. Petersburg 300- one slow, one fast (initially, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to use that program at all because a lot of the footwork was too fast for my music, but it worked especially well)
The Godfather- 2005 Euros- the footwork he used here was also present in “Tosca Fantasy”
Tango & Flamenco
Stars on Ice- because it segued in perfectly after St. Petersburg 300
Then with the change in the music, I needed a transition into a spin- Tango Amore had the best version.
*I brought back my favorite version of a spin position Plushenko had favored since 2010 (maybe earlier), where he’s upright, one arm over his head and another crossed over his chest- “Maybe I, Maybe you”
*he arrives on the ice at Torino for his short program- the original composition of “Tosca” (from a Puccini opera of the same name)
*more footwork from “Concierto de Aranjuez”
To further elevate the mood, I included a lot of close-ups for the 3rd verse, a little more footage from Sochi, and then worked into his “Storm” program at Sendai- his first public appearance skating since the surgery.
I wanted to spend half the chorus on that and the other half with some last moments from other programs.
I didn’t get to use all of the great footage I had, but I got most of my favorites in there somewhere.
I didn’t plan on use “Tango Amore” from the Olympics, especially since it exhibits a certain cockiness that felt a little out of place with the music, but I couldn’t see any other clip in that particular place.
And it was also important to me to have one more “Tosca Fantasy” moment because it’s one of my favorite moments in any of his programs. Like he’s casting a spell towards the sky.
*one last emotional moment from “Maybe I, maybe you”
*Sochi- one piece of his final set of footwork in that program
*his thank-you to the crowd at Sendai, which was another moment that moved me
then finally that triple toe loop
I added that last bit of footage at the end on a whim… it just felt perfect to have a final curtain call, salute to the crowd.
So I hope all that see it like it 😀
especially those who enjoy watching Evgeni Plushenko as much as I do.