Thursday, July 18, 2013

50th is the Niftieth

The Golden Anniversary

Roughly one year ago, it was decided that my parents, their children (that would be me!) and their children's children, would all convene for a one week vacation near Traverse City, MI to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. Being the sneaky and creative crew that we (the four children) are, we decided there needed to be a secret show. In my mind it would be a lavish Broadway show with full sets and an orchestra. In reality, it was a little less polished, but still entertaining.

And so, I began writing the theme song. My brother came up with the title, and I took it from there. As my parents are "oldies" themselves, I wanted to write a song with the feel of something you might hear on an oldies radio station. It also needed to have back-up singers (my sisters) and, what I call The Preacher part (my brother).

Some of the lyrics, such as the chorus, came together quickly. But I was struggling with the verses. I wanted the song to be about them specifically; perhaps about their early romance. But as I knew nothing about that, it was rather difficult. So once I decided to go more generic, the words fell into place. One detail that stayed though was "A Summer Place at the movies." This, according to some sources, was one of the first movies they saw together.

After the song was blocked out, I kept having a nagging feeling that it needed a bridge. I had a chord progression in my head, but for some reason, could never capture it when I sat down to play it. What I ended up with was the part, "I see the colors of the rainbow...". I think it works well and leads nicely into The Preacher.

To pat my own back, my favorite parts are the "shoo-bop shoo-bop shoo-be-do-bop" (not an easy assignment for my sisters) and the line "They say that love is golden, cuz it's better when it's you I'm holdin'." All in all, I'm quite pleased with the results.

But wait! Earlier this year, I subscribed to Adobe's Creative Cloud because I needed Premiere Pro for a work project. So here I had this professional video editing software aching to be used, and a dusty green screen that I had for another pet project years ago. Let's make a video!

My vision was a band playing a small high school-like auditorium. I kept imagining that scene from Back to the Future where Marty plays guitar at the high school dance. Indeed, even the song has a strong influence of "Earth Angel" from that scene. So I set to work with my 3D modelling software to create the virtual auditorium. While most of the scenes are shot from a still camera, I was able to animate the mirror ball and even "fake zoom" a couple of scenes.

We all did a video shoot one at a time against the green screen except for the three singers shot in one take. There were two "couples" dancing which were repeated over and over so the auditorium looked populated. The Preacher was shot with a hand held camera to give some contrast to the rest of the video.

Finally, to include the grandkids, we shot a little "commercial" before the actual video. They also performed this live for my parents at our "show" in Michigan.

Well, it's been a fun year planning all of this, writing a script, and making music and videos. Now that the anniversary has come and gone, I can finally share this with the rest of you. I hope you enjoy the results as much as my parents did!

-Uncle Ziffler