FAN FILM FRIDAY: We Interview Kelvington

Republibot 3.0
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REPUBLIBOT 3.0:
Good morning, everyone. Today on Republibot, we've got Rick Kelvington, master of mashups and fanedits and parodies supreme. We recently featured him on Fan Film Friday (Here: http://www.republibot.com/content/fan-film-friday-trek-through-time-dan-... ) and he's been kind enough - or at least undiscerning enough - to hang out with us today.

Rick, thank you for taking time out to speak with us!

RICK KELVINGTON:
You are certainly welcome, I enjoy your site, and this is a great fun to interact with you.

R3:
So, first question, do you prefer to go by "Rick" or "Kelvington" or "Rick Kelvington" or "Mister Rick Kelvington" or what? I notice you tend to use your last name only on Emails and things.

RICK KELVINGTON:
Typically because I have an odd last name, I go by Kelvington. It’s easy for everyone to remember it that way.

R3:
Whups…ok, let me just change the way your name reads here…ok, got it. So: who are you, and where are you from? What's your day job? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KELVINGTON:
I’m a video editor, and work on a lot of very small projects, from wedding videos, funeral videos (yes they do make them) and even student films. My motto has always been, “when you can’t afford the very best”. Because I tend to get stuff done fast and cheap.

Back in the day, I worked on both sides of the camera when I lived in Los Angeles. There was a time I wanted to be a good working character actor, and did a lot of, what is now called “background” work. Which got me a few lines here and there. But never enough to earn a living. I worked behind the scenes in a variety of jobs, but mostly as a “puncher”, which is a person who works in a room full of so called “funny” people and we make scripts better. Or so the job description goes. While it made me a lot of money, it wasn’t very steady work. So I left LA for a real job, that paid real money and real benefits.

My day job now is video editor and computer support person, I own a little company called “Reverse The Polarity Productions, L.L.C.” and I help people out with any sort of technology issues they might have at a fair price.

R3:
Clever name. I was actually very surprised by how much of your stuff I'd seen without realizing it - "Trek Through Time," which we featured a bit ago, the "Bill O'Riley/Christian Bale" thing, the "Montgomery Scott in the 24th Century," "Space: 1969," I'd seen these all before for years, but I had no idea they were all by the same guy. Have you received a lot of recognition for these mashups, or are you toiling away in relative obscurity because people like me don't recognize the thematic ties you've got going?

KELVINGTON:
I like the idea of toiling away in obscurity most. People will say this person, or that person is an overnight success, because they found ‘One Thing” that made them popular enough to be noticed. Of course that overnight success had been toiling away for twenty years on their career before they became successful.

I don’t do these videos to become famous or rich, because believe me doing these I will be neither. But I do them to sharpen my editing skills and because I love to do them. I think like most people who do mashups we saw “Scary Poppins” on YouTube three or four years ago, and the flood gates were open, and everyone thought they could do that.

Plus this was sort of a new art form so we were all starting at ground zero and running in different directions. While I loved the idea of doing mashups, it wasn’t until I was introduced to Paul Sibbald that I was able to actually get my toes wet. He was doing “gag reels” for the re-mastered Star Trek, and they were hilarious and while we’ve never actually met, he turned me on to Sony Vegas and we started working together. While his stuff was more inventive, I wanted to do straight up mashups, and that’s how Trek: Impossible came to be.

R3:
It’s funny that you mention “Trek:Impossible” because I just went nuts when I saw the Star Trek/Mission impossible mashup (Available here: http://kelvington.com/wordpress/?p=90 ), moreso than anything else you’ve done. As a very little kid I thought Trek and MI were the same show. What was the idea behind that one? How did it come about

KELVINGTON:
Trek: Impossible was my first real mashup, it came about because, I thought the web created by the Tholian ships looked an awful lot like the fuse on “Mission: Impossible”. That’s because essentially they were the same. They were done by the same effects company and probably done in the exact same way.

That fuse or web was actually the common thread of the mashup. I thought if there were a way to make that a Tholian ship, instead of a burning fuse, you would have something very clever. Paul was able to do the “burning fuse/Thoilan web” part and I edited the rest. If that fuse wasn’t there, that mashup would have fallen flat on its face. It’s the fuse that makes that work, and makes it a spot on parody.

R3:
So how did you get involved in all this? What was the process that led up to you waking up one morning and saying "I need to combine Buck Rogers and TNG?"

KELVINGTON:
I hit sort of a turning point with the Buck Rogers mashup. Paul and I had worked on a number of videos, mostly being a sounding board for each other. Paul is very much the Charlie Chaplin of the two of us, and I’m the Roger Corman. He spends hours on tiny little details, and I spend seconds on cranking crap out. Then I came upon the concept of doing a TNG parody of putting Scotty into the Buck Rogers title sequence after watching TNG’s “Relics” one day.

Say what you will about the “Buck Rogers” series, but the opening credits were inspired and visually stunning.

R3:
Oh, yeah! They were just beautiful. The show could never live up to the standard set by its own opening titles. The music worked really well with them, too.

KELVINGTON:
I wanted to see if somehow I could re-create that look and feel, some twenty years later. From a technical standpoint, the original “Buck Rogers” titles must have taken weeks, and weeks to do. Remember back in those days computers were only used to play pong, and do basic programming. Everything you see in those titles is done with mattes, and film running though an optical printer. Which makes the moving circles part even more amazing.

R3:
I hadn’t thought about it, but yeah, you’re right. I remember reading an interview with the guy who did the opening titles for the first dozen or so Bond movies, and he talked about how amazingly difficult and time consuming it was, how the old fashioned optical processors would break or jam up because he’d be running eight or 10 strips of film through them at the same time. Took him weeks to do, and that’s just basically naked chicks jumping around in slomo. The Buck Rogers titles are obviously vastly more demanding. So now that I think about it, why would you want to tackle such a difficult thing?

KELVINGTON:
I thought it was time to take my skills up a notch and see if I could replicate EXACTLY a title sequence. Since parody titles were sort of an offshoot of mashups, and typically something very easy to create, as there are about a million of them out there. I wanted to do one that was a little harder to create and would challenge me a bit more. At the time it was the hardest mashup I had done, and it took me a long time to figure out how to do those crazy circles, but after I slept on it for a couple of days, I figured that out, and the rest just sort of came together, and it’s still one of the parodies I’m most proud of. That and the Batman/Doctor Who Flip Trailer.

R3:
Your editing is frequently pretty amazing, particularly on Trek Through Time. I mean, we've all seen Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner, or Orvil Reddenbacher playing with an Ipod, but those are all really expensive professional productions - and rather lame. I've *never* seen the kind of amazing stuff like you've done in a fanvid before. I mean, hauling David Tennant out of Dr. Who and putting him on the Enterprise, doing vice versa with Kirk - that's astounding. What kind of equipment and software are you using to pull this sort of thing off so well?

KELVINGTON:
First, thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

R3:
How could I not?

KELVINGTON:
The main program I use is Sony Vegas it does all the heavy lifting of compositing and editing. It’s simple enough that anyone can grasp it in just a few hours. It does about 90% of the work, then for special shots I use After Effects, mostly to stabilize something or to do tracking. When Kirk is first seen in the TARDIS looking around that tracking was done with After Effects.

The program that allows me to lift people out from one scene to another is called Motor, it’s a professional Rotoscoping program, it let me, though hours, and hours of effort, draw shapes around the actors, and then remove them from the scenes they are in, and allows me to place the in other scenes with Vegas. The good and the bad with rotoscoping is, when it’s 100% correct it looks amazing, and perfect and you love it. When it’s 99.999999% correct it looks like crap and you can’t get out of the “Uncanny Valley”. Of the sixty or so rotos I did for Trek Through Time, there’s about four that are spot on perfect and most people never knew they were rotos. The rest fall deeply into the “uncanny valley”.

Those are the heavy hitters of programs, other programs used are Photoshop for making clean background plates, like the brig or parts of the Enterprise bridge where I’ve removed Spock and put the Doctor in. Bluff Titler for doing the 3D names that fly by in during the Doctor Who Titles. Finally, I use 3DS Max for all the original TARDIS shots.

R3:
With all that stuff, how long did it take you to do "Trek Through Time?"

KELVINGTON:
The whole twenty-seven minutes of Trek Through Time took about one year out of my life, and about two months out of Paul’s life. Paul did the whole pre-title sequence on his own which took three full weeks. Then he did various shots of the Enterprise model that’s not CBS/Digital’s in the rest of the episode. I think we combined CBS/Digital’s stuff with his pretty seamlessly. Then I did all the story work, and main editing/compositing/effects from November 2008 to December 2009. For part three I started working off and on in May of 2009, then the last four months of 2009, were eight and ten hour days, six and seven days a week to save Kirk. Which was NEVER part of the original story line.

R3:
Wow, that’s a lot of work. I mean, I assumed from the look of it that it took a lot of time, but just the same: Wow. The other day you were telling me that you hadn't really thought of your mashups as fanfilms until I called them that on our site. Do you have much interaction with the Fanfilm community? Do you follow it at all?

KELVINGTON:
I had never really considered it a fan film until you mentioned it. Because when I think of fan films, I think of all the people doing their own Doctor Who episodes and Star Trek films. I also thought you have to build sets and actually shoot stuff. So this never crossed my mind as a fan film until you said that. The only real shooting that was done for ours was Paul shooting his Enterprise model. Everything else was culled from footage from the shows and movies.

I don’t have any real interaction with the fanfilm community, other than Stuart Humphryes who is doing with “The Ten Doctors” under the name of BabelColour on YouTube. It’s a very impressive bit of work. He and have written back and forth a few times.

Other than that I was watching some of them. There is group at DoctorWho2009.com who has done a very professional Doctor Who original story that was excellent. Then of course the people who are doing Star Trek: Phase II are worth watching just to see the old sets.

R3:
They are beautiful, aren’t they? What's your favorite fanflm, and why?

KELVINGTON:
I really like the ambitious nature of “The Ten Doctors” Stuart Humphryes really has done a great job combing all the Doctors into one story. It’s truly and impossible task considering how much of Doctor Who is in black & white. He’s found some common ground and has done some incredible work. I enjoy the quality of Star Trek: Phase II, plus I love the look of the old style sets, so I have a soft spot in my heart anyone working in the 60’s era Trek.

R3:
I can certainly understand that. Really, I think most of us didn’t want fifteen years of new Trek, all we really wanted was Season Four of TOS. Speaking of dead shows: Any chance of getting a Babylon 5 mashup out of you?

KELVINGTON:
I would love to do some B5 stuff, I thought it was one of the best series out there. But I would have to think of something clever that hadn’t been done before to dip my toes into it. So often people just think if you pit the Enterprise or Star Wars Ships against each other or against the B5 ships you have something great.

R3:
I know! It kills me that the “Star Wreck” guys did this feature-length comedy with a very involved story, and all people ever talk about is the Federation vs. Earthforce dustup at the end!

KELVINGTON:
The reality is, you need a story or a very clever concept to juxtapose the elements of a good mashup. Scary Poppins worked because it was an amazing concept. Take a beloved movie with the sweetest character ever, and show just the odd bits of her doing things, and make it incredibly frightening. That’s what makes a mash up work.

For Trek Through Time I had a real story there and I think that’s why it worked. So to do B5 I would need to come up with an idea that I loved that hadn’t been done before. But I’ll give it some thought. Perhaps something along the lines of Billy Mummy’s character from B5 and “Lost In Space” meet up or something.

R3:
Ok, so if you had your druthers, if money and time were no object, what would your dream video project be? What would you love to do, but you just haven't had the chance for whatever reason?

KELVINGTON:
Well working for the BBC and editing “Doctor Who” would be the dream. But from a realistic perspective. I had an idea for a “Doctor Who” parody called “Doctor What, Doctor Where, Doctor Who” where the Three Stooges play three incarnations of The Doctor. I’m slowly working it out now, and you might see a trailer for it in 2010, and the full on episode in 2011.

R3:
That sounds astoundingly difficult, what with all the physical comedy and all. So what are you working on right now?

KELVINGTON:
Right now I’m relaxing and enjoying myself and just having fun. I’m working on a set of “How Do He Do Dat?” videos that show how some of the effects in Trek Through Time were done. I get hundreds and hundreds, of letters from kind people out there asking how it’s done, so I figure the least I can do is show them. The first one up is called “Devil In A Blue Dress” which shows the seventeen times we took David Tennant’s brown suit and how I made it blue in part III.

After that will come “The Money Shot” which shows how I made Kirk jump into the TARDIS. Those four shots which amount to two seconds of screen time took about 100 hours. So I want to show others how it was done.

R3:
Come to think of it, I can’t think of a lot of fanfilm types who are willing to share their secrets. Granted, it isn’t exactly the same since you’re doing mashups, but it is a related art. That’s really generous of you. As was you spending time with us, Kelvington. Thank you very much for being with us today and telling us all about your work, it was pretty fascinating.

KELVINGTON:
You are certainly welcome, I love the site, and it was my pleasure to be here and talk with you.

R3:
Thanks again. To all of our readers, I strongly suggest you visit Kelvington's official website here http://kelvington.com and check out his stuff. It's well worth your time, and funny as hell.

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