Behind the “Magic” of another Plushenko montage

I don’t know if anyone really cares about my creative process, but I wanted to write this just for my own recollection.

As of this moment, I have 50 views, which makes me very happy.
A special thank you to my fellow Plushy fans on Twitter for retweeting, commenting and sharing the link for my video.

I started working on this montage 2 months after I posted the previous one
[you can find it and the story behind it on the link I posted above]

But after this one, it might be even longer before I go down this road again (I set some groundwork to “Sky Full of Stars” and have an idea that features his Latin programs- Tango & Flamenco, Tango Amore, Carmen, etc.)
I posted on Facebook and Twitter that trying to be perfect is stressful and I don’t know how Plushenko does it πŸ˜€
But of course I already know that he is human like the rest of us. He can’t always win or be healthy enough to compete or even skate.

The Music

“Magic” by Coldplay
I got their GHOST STORIES album for Christmas last year. I got their previous album MYLO XYLOTO in the same way and for the same reason: I loved the lone song from the album they played on the radio.
“Paradise” was great and there were some cool moments in its corresponding album…

“Sky Full of Stars” was even more amazing, so I requested GHOST STORIES for Christmas without a second thought.
I was in love with the album from the first note. “Magic” fit its title perfectly- it was magical and so beautiful.

I wrote in another blog post that GHOST STORIES became one of my favorite albums last winter- along with MY HEAD IS AN ANIMAL by Of Monsters and Men.

So the more I listened to this album, the more I fell in love with it… and I started brainstorming again.
I thought I’d be doing “Magic” and “Sky Full of Stars” simultaneously, but considering how stressful and massive an undertaking just doing one is, I couldn’t do it. Plus, the ideas were coming much faster with “Magic” and I didn’t want to force anything for “Sky Full of Stars.”
Considering that the lyrics never really go anywhere, it’s probably going to be spontaneous anyway.

The Story: Within the Montage and Behind its Making

I didn’t think I would do another of these so soon after “Precious”… and it wasn’t just difficult because I was still learning this process and trying to get the right clips set to the right lyrics… it was an emotional undertaking.
The clips I put together were telling the story of how Plushenko made me fall for him at Sochi, the heartbreak that happened when he injured himself, reflecting on his career and chronicling the milestones of his recovery since then.
It was a story I felt I had to tell, but it wasn’t easy by any means.
I still get chills when I listen to that Depeche Mode track and when I watch my video back.
(I hadn’t seen it since last April- just before my hiatus from watching figure skating began- I’ll probably broadcast it on my TV using Google Chromecast when I watch it next February for the 2nd Sochi-versery).

I said to myself that if I was going to do this again, it had to be the right song. There had to be a story to tell and it had to fit his presence and the manner of his skating.
But I also wanted to do this again because I wanted to paint a new picture. Plushenko’s recovery was in really good place, so it was time to move past the sadness and put together something that was happy and enjoyable to watch.

As the title of the song suggests, I really wanted to put together a montage of the moments of his skating that could only be described as “magical.”
And with that magic comes beauty, so there were a lot of beautiful moments. Inflections, pauses, nuances and so on.

Programs Used

When I was watching all of the Vancouver Olympic footage (exhibition and the mens’ competition), I got the idea to create a video using all the Plushenko’s footage- all of the purpose of having them available for making montages.
But after some of the struggles I went through ironing out the kinks using the footage, I probably won’t be using them again.

What I gathered during my previous montage was if all the footage wasn’t in the same format, there would be glitches or disruptions. Apparently all of the Olympic footage I put together and converted falls under this category.
Oddly enough, the only footage of the three programs I had any trouble with was the short program, “Concierto de Aranjuez.” And no matter what footage I used (originally I had a step sequence where this is now a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination), whether I had a transition there or not, the issue always happened in the same spot. The last time I ran it through, the lag in transition was still there, but when I saved it as a video, the issue was completely gone.
So strange how these things work. That was probably the one part I had the most stress about and it all turned out all right in the end.

Some of the other transitions I added came from stress, but the moment I saw them through with the transitions, I felt better about how the whole thing looked.
The opening of the first image looked like a curtain opening. And there’s a lyric “precious jewel”- so I thought it’d be cool to have the footage open with a diamond shape.

Before I get too far, here are the programs I used:
Maybe I, Maybe You
Tango Amore- 2010 Europeans/Art on Ice
The Town Which Does Not Exist- 2005 Cup of Russia gala
Godfather- 2006 Europeans
Je Suis Malade- 2010 Olympic gala
Tango Roxanne- 2012 Europeans
Concierto de Aranjuez- 2010 Olympics
St. Petersburg 300- 2002 Grand Prix Final
Storm- TOI (first public performance after 2014 back surgery)
Tosca Fantasy/Caruso- 2006 Olympic gala
Tango & Flamenco- Russian Nationals
12.28 Gala at Sochi
Tribute to Nijinsky- 2010 Japan Open
Tosca Fantasy- Prague, 2011

I probably won’t be able to use this moment in another montage (assuming I do any in the future)- but I felt like I had to include it once more. In my last montage, I opened with the “shh” moment he did in Sochi, the moment I fell in love with him. This time, I had this moment again in the same spot, but it was featured in the “Tango Roxanne” footage.
There were several moments I loved about that program, so I used it through the montage- just to give a sense of unity to the piece.

There were some programs I used throughout to bind it together as a whole. Others, I just used to fill in the gaps. “Concierto de Aranjuez” from Vancouver was to use space, but with one of the last bits of footage I added, I unintentionally had put in footage that came right after what I had used earlier in the montage.

“Storm” I didn’t mean to use as much as I did because it was such an important part of my previous montage. But after watching it again and feeling some unease about one part of my montage (it was past the 2 minute mark), I inserted one more piece of footage and it segued really well with the “Tango Amore” footage I wanted to use.
I had “Tango Amore” in mind specifically for the step sequences. Listening to the so-called chorus of this song, it was what came to mind. The jump into the spin, I’d used for my previous montage, but I had it planned for that particular point of this song.

“Maybe I Maybe You” is one of my all-time favorite show programs he’s ever done. It’s emotional and it has a lot of graceful, poignant moments, so I used it a lot.
Again, I reused a bit of footage from my previous montage and I planned to use it in advance.
I think I also did it because the timing of it got lost a bit in my previous montage (after much editing) and I wanted to try again- it looks even more amazing now πŸ˜€ not just the timing, but with that bit of music that has a more hopeful tone to it.

I had “Je Suis Malade” at my disposal and after watching it again, I saw a lot of great moments I wanted to use. The first moment I used was his attempt at a quadruple toe loop, but he missed and had to settle for a triple. The result was bits of snow kicking into the air, which I thought was a beautiful picture.
During my brainstorming process, a few moments came to mind and they are in the final product emphasizing certain lyrics.

“Tosca Fantasy” to me embodies magic, but I didn’t get the opportunity to use a lot of it. The music didn’t allow for me to use too much of the good parts, which were the step sequences πŸ˜›
Maybe one day I’ll put together a compilation of my favorite Tosca moments using all the footage I have now.
But whenever I used the footage from that Olympic gala, some was filler, but others were inspired magical moments.
And I was happy I was able to use some from an exhibition in Prague in the last minute- even if it was only for a couple of seconds.
I guarantee that when I do “Sky Full of Stars,” there will be plenty more footage of that program.

I added the gala at Sochi (the song he used was in Russian and I forget the translation of it- I think it means “I am beautiful”) to my collection of videos because I could see a couple of moments being used between my two Coldplay montages.
I already have the final image picked out.
For “Magic,” I wanted to bring lyrics to life.

With the Nijinsky and Godfather footage, both came into play for the same reasons, but they happened at different times.
I knew early on that I wanted to put together two moments from Nijinsky- him picking up his leg by the blade before doing a lutz, followed by the last time he did a Biellmann spin.
Besides that, there were lot of moments I fell in love with and they worked beautifully in certain parts. And that event also had one of my favorite choreography moments where he’s balanced on one leg and shifts his weight from one side to another. He did that a lot in 2005-2006 between Tosca & Godfather and back when I was just getting to know him, it was a moment that made my heart skip. I can’t quite explain why. His “shh” position I can explain easily, but not that.

I have a couple Godfather programs. I think I got the second one because it was stronger overall.
At first I was just using Godfather because the movements fit in time with the music, but as I progressed through my composition, I started to see it was becoming a recurring theme. Just like Tango Roxanne, Nijinsky and Maybe I Maybe You kept making appearances.

Then when I got towards the end, I started to think about the final verse- where Chris Martin says if he was asked whether he still believes in magic- that a certain part of that video footage would be perfect for it.
Every now and then, no matter how Plushenko astounds me, I want to remain grounded and remind myself every now and then that he’s human. During this trip to the Europeans, he was dealing with the flu and apparently had an IV with medication before he competed in the free skate. I didn’t really see the illness or the weakness until the very end where he collapses on the ice for a couple seconds. Of course after seeing multiple versions of this program, I can see the difference between him at his best and otherwise. Then there was a moment where he kissed the ice- something he did at Torino when he went on to win the gold medal and I knew that’d be perfect at that particular lyric.

So I wound up finding another theme for this montage and it was showing that the “Magic” in his skating was a quality he never lost.
He can be dealing with illness or injury and still be amazing. (I realized just now that Tango Roxanne was where he won a gold medal while dealing with a torn meniscus he was about to have surgery on… so that’s another connection… plus the fact this was his first competition since the Vancouver Olympics).
I also wanted to include that gala at Sochi because it was the most recent footage I had and it shows that despite everything he’s gone through, he can be spectacular.

I had the idea that I wanted a Biellmann spin earlier in the montage, but had no good place to put it.
Somehow I found a place in the middle and it also gave me the chance to use one more bit of Vancouver footage- footage I probably will never work with again after this.

Again, I have to say how lucky I am to have such a great subject to work with. Plushenko has so much great material from his career and I love how his skating compliments whatever music he’s skating to.
Even if I have to do the editing myself, he can do certain movements to certain lyrics and they’re impactful. And they can also be beautiful.

In general, when I picture choreography in my head when I listen to my favorite songs, I like certain lyrics to be emphasized and brought to life.
But beyond the step sequences, that’s what I want my montages to be about. I want them to tell a story.

Also, I wanted to say how this time I loved having more freedom to use his jumps.
I couldn’t really do that last time because that was the theme- after the Sochi footage, I didn’t have him jump until the final image I showed pre-credits. It was a way of showing that he had a long way to go with his recovery and regaining that ability to jump was the glimmer of hope that everything would be okay.

As of right now, I really don’t know what’s happening πŸ˜› footage was posted on Instagram of him doing a quadruple toe loop at one of his “Kings on Ice” shows… I thought he was forbidden to do any more quads because he’d fractured another disc in his back. It wasn’t perfect, of course, but I couldn’t help but hope this could go on to mean he’ll be at Europeans.
I know for sure he’ll do Medal Winner’s Open in Osaka, Japan in January… but I REALLY hope he could still compete in a major competition this season.

And as of this moment of finishing this post, I am up to 102 views… :O
What more can I say? whether you found my montage on Facebook, Twitter or this blog post, thank you so much for watching and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

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