Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Japanese Arcade

Back in 2011 I moved from Austin back to Beachton. I drove a UHaul first with all my stuff and then flew back to get my car. In those last days in Austin I made my friend Daniel Rowe go with me to Arcade UFO so I could shoot photos and high speed video of him playing this crazy Japanese music game. I'd been there with him before and his mad skills blew me away. I knew I had to shoot that activity with my high speed camera.

I have always loved watching people play arcade games. I don't know why. I do not like playing them myself. I am truly terrible at it and it stresses me out. But I am transfixed by people who are good at it. I don't even know what he is doing. I think he hits the colored button corresponding to the columns of dashes moving up the screen. I am totally clueless about how the score works, but I think his score was very high. I think I could watch him for a week and still not figure it out. These Japanese games are particularly overwhelming to me. The graphics are like falling in a swimming pool of multicolored ice cubes, half of them flashing lights at different frequencies and the other half each emitting a different tone. But the random English phrases on the screen are hilarious.

After I got back to Beachton with the footage I didn't really know how to edit it. But after thinking about it for a few years, building a whole office, mounting my monitor on the wall, rigging up a full range speaker, and setting up a comfy chair I thought I should go ahead and make the video. I did the entire length of a song because I don't care if it's too long for you, it's not too long for me. There's one piece of 120 frame per second slow motion footage that is over 6 minutes long. I had plenty to work with. You can tell which is the 120 frame per second footage because it's grainy and the screen of the game is flashing because the refresh rate of the monitor is slower than the frame rate of the camera. I cropped some of that video to fill the screen and used different amount of speed changes on that. There's one high speed section that has black bars at the side because I didn't crop to fill the frame. I also shot some 40 frame per second full quality stills that I used in the video with various duration from 0.1 seconds to 0.5 seconds. They have black bars at the sides and aren't grainy.  The stuff that looks like standard video is real time. I did not speed that up. He is really that fast.

I did the whole thing as a music video to Sting Operation from Anamanaguchi's Power Supply album. This is not the music playing on the game. It was actually much faster and manic, but not dissimilar.

At the time I shot this Daniel was working in Austin at Red Fly studios as a video game programmer. Since then he moved to Dallas to write mobile games for Android. I would put in a plug for his company but I don't know what it's called.

As a hermit I cannot indulge myself in watching people play video games in person, but I have found a great internet opportunity. Do you all know about Co-optitude? It's the Geek and Sundry show where Felicia Day and her brother Ryon play old video games. I love this show. It always cheers me up to watch it. I save it for when I need a good laugh.

**Update: Daniel sent me a link to raw footage of him playing that same video game. (shot by his sister.) That's what it looks like and sounds like not edited. My mind works differently though. When I saw him do that I visualized a more artistic rendering of the experience.
He also a link to just the song he's playing, Curus, by D-Crew. I could not have edited a whole video to that song. It sounds like three songs played at once. It reminds me of a banana split, but you have to eat it all in one mouthful. No thank you.