Normally I use this space to tell you of my day's adventures - surreal episodes of lens-tripping in the great wide open. Lately however, I've spent an awful lot of time sitting in a small box, mumbling incoherently and brooding over timelines. No, I haven't embarked on some ghastly scientific experiment; I'm merely editing American Idol. Not the show, mind you. Somewhere in Hollywood a team of cappuccino swilling Californians are taking care of that. As for me, I'm busy assembling in-depth profiles of the four North Carolinians still vying for the title. Bucky, Heather, Kellie and Chris... I've come to know these hopeful vocalists quite well, and not just because I jetted to Cali a couple of weeks ago for breathless, one-on-one interviews.
Since returning to the Old North State, I've spent most of my time interviewing their friends, families, co-workers - even a mailman or two. From Jonesville to Rockingham to Albemarle to Haw River, I've visited parts of North Carolina I'd only heard about - all in the name of the world's cheesiest talent search. But I'm not complaining - though I'm sure it sounds like I am. No, I did this to myself. I walked in to the suit's corner office and declared myself 'Idol Boy'. A few fellow photogs raised their unkempt eyebrows at my plans, but they may be reconsidering their derision now that I've spent weeks avoiding the never-ending parade of ribbon-cuttings, murder scenes and contentious school board meetings. The only downside...I spend alot of time in The Box.
Okay, so it's a fancy-schmancy non-linear edit suite, but log enough hours in it and it feels like the most torturous of prison yard sweat-boxes. When I'm not staring into the abyss of a blank monitor, I'm whittling down soundbites, scavenging bits and pieces from the show tapes and stretching dissolves until they render just the right tearful response. If none of that made sense to you, don't sweat it, it's merely TV geek talk for editing - that tedious yet highly rewarding process that goes into each and every frame of vapid television you watch. I'll spare you the technical details, but understand this: few things on-screen happen by accident. A two minute profile of a giddy singer contains more (visually) editorial decisions than a three-column newspaper article. Of course, if the viewer at home thinks about the editing, then we as timeline jockeys have failed. (Personally, when that happens to me, I go home and watch my 'Jaws' DVD for slice and dice inspiration.)
So while I filet footage of starry-eyed ingenues, know that this won't last forever. Before either you or I know it, I'll be back out on the general news hunt, zooming in on defendants and grumbling under my breath at the stupidity of it all. So please, bear with me through this difficult time. At least you haven't got it as bad as my fellow photogs, who visibly cringe every time they hear some soaring, overwrought vocals emanating from my booth. 'Turn that crap down!', they hiss as I stare back at them behind droopy eyelids. I try to explain that I've grown impervious to the screeching show tunes, immune to the over-blown vocal emotion on display, invulnerable to the treacly disco hits contained within. So just HOW have I achieved such aural bliss while drowing in syrupy, doe-eyed ditties, you ask? I can explain it all away in two simple words...