Monday, December 14, 2009

The poetry of a boy and his dog

Steve Martin recently held a video contest to promote his new banjo album called The Crow. One of the songs on the album is called "Wally on the Run". It's inspired by his dog, a yellow lab named Wally, who we actually met in Eugene about a month ago. Nice dog.

Anyway, Steve cooked up the idea of inviting people to enter a contest in which they use his song to create a music video. Of course, having the world's most photogenic dog, we decided to enter the contest (first prize one thousand dollars). I captured a lot of great footage of Sammy on the run; Sammy wrestling the cat, Sammy running with a hula hoop around his body; Sammy jumping up in our bed, Sammy chasing balls, and Sammy in the woods.

Unfortunately, we don't have the necessary software to create movies out of these raw materials and the person who I had hoped would help us flaked out, so I was on the verge of giving up when I happened upon a video clip over a year old, taken at Catherine Creek State Park. The clip shows Colm as a five year old chasing Sammy as a five month old puppy. What was wierd was that the length of the clip matched almost perfectly the length of Steve Martin's song...a good thing since I don't even have the editing tools or skills to alter the length of my videos.

Even so it took me the better part of a Sunday to figure out how to lay the audio track into our video clip. I hadn't known that the original audio containing Colm's laughter as well as the nearby creek and the ambient sound of wind in the microphone would remain audible underneath the music. The effect, while accidental, was for me almost magical. In the end, I knew that we didn't have a contest winner, yet I had become very attached to the result because it evoked for me with startling clarity the puppy-like quality of Colm as he chased his still new pup, Sammy, through the dappled light around our campsite alongside Catherine Creek on a lazy June day.

Fifteen months later, both boy and pup have sprouted coltish legs. Sammy has about hit his physical prime, but Colm still has miles and miles to go. The image of Colm's short legs barely able to keep up with Sammy's even shorter cartoonish ones while the stream rushes on headlong, the manic laughter, the delight in pursuit, the crazy serpentine course of his all moves me in the way a poem can sometimes do.

In my weaker moments I imagined that all these personal subtexts were somehow plainly evident in the video itself and that it would, therefore, sneak past all the other entries marked by assiduous and playful editing techniques, clever effects, and personable dogs of every sort imaginable. Umm...not.

The winners were announced today. You can see the first place entry here and second place here. Our entry you can watch here below. By the way, the album is really good. You should get it. Even the liner notes are good.


Blogger Erin said...

Love this! They're both getting so big! And the music really does capture the spirit of the two. ♥ Erin

2:18 PM  

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