Chaplin Foley Re-Boot (or just boot?)


I saw the movie the Life of Pi not too long ago, and this Chaplin clip reminded me of the movie in that both characters are stuck in a confined space with a dangerous predator.  I only made it 1/3 of the way through the book when it came out several years ago.  The movie I did finish (Ang Lee is a real artiste, by the way- love the look of his films).  The story on the surface is about a young man from India whose family owns a zoo.  They are moving the zoo from India to Canada and the ship goes down in a storm; the protagonist is stuck on a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan, and tiger, and the film chronicles his (and the animals–especially the tiger’s) fight to survive lost at sea.  The story is said to be heavily symbolic, with different characters representing different humans in the protagonist’s life.

That line of thinking somehow converged with thinking about the TV series “Lost” and the idea of living in purgatory or in some alternate reality.    So, I thought, maybe Chaplin could be in some kind of “purgatory” himself- fighting a demon or doing battle with something within him.  Maybe a self-destructive tendency or fear.   It isn’t until he faces his demon–or lion–and accepts help that he is able to be freed from himself.

The scene opens and we see Chaplin running (from success? from a healthy relationship?  from the Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting nearby? from whatever choice he SHOULD be making, but isn’t), right into the old, bad ways–the lion’s cage.  He didn’t mean to, but he’s done it again!   Realizing the error of his ways, he tries to let himself out (only to lock the door behind him), escape through the tiger’s cage, and wave a handkerchief to try to get someone’s attention, all to no avail.

It’s only when his real chance of help–the little dog–comes that he has some hope, even though he doesn’t see it. All he can think is how noisy the dog is and worries that the dog will wake the lion.  He is so adamant that he actually tries to kick the dog away from the cage.  He would rather be bound up in his “dark side” than accept help, especially if it’s in a form he doesn’t anticipate.   The dog, however, attracts the attention of the girl–his savior.  After a little back and forth–what’s some fainting among friends?–Chaplin allows her to free him.  He still has work to do however–his pride makes him act nonchalant when she offers him freedom, and then he has to run up the tent pole and act silly.  But hey- maybe this is a new start for our little tramp.  Maybe next time we see him careening around a corner, he will run past the lion cage (i.e., his bad old ways) rather than into it.

Now the technical stuff:

I downloaded the movie from YouTube using  I opened the file in Movie Maker and then removed the audio by simply turning the volume all the way down.  I added a title and a caption in the opening scene and then credits to the end all using the Movie Maker tools.

I looked for some free tunes, but wasn’t really finding anything that fit.  Fitting with the bad boy theme I have made for this story, I thought about the music to the movie “Crazy Heart”, which is full of some great country songs that include a lot of down-and-out type woe.  So I used Buck Owen’s “Hello Trouble” from the soundtrack as the main music for the new video.  Inserting the audio was easy enough; since the song is very short (less than 2 mins), I used it twice.

Now came the rabbit-hole part- where I ran into trouble and ended up wasting a huge amount of time (Part 1).  I ended up with only a brief clip (from Cars 2), an image I doctored using Pixlr (of superhero dog) and a new recording I made using Audacity (me doing my best cartoon dog voice).

The hardest part of this assignment was a) figuring out what I wanted to convey, b) and then finding media to convey it.  I am guessing the difficulty in part “b” may have arisen from my general lack of media search “expertise”.  I used terms like “I’m here to save you”, and “I don’t need your help” both on YouTube and as image searches and I was not impressed with the results–maybe my key words weren’t getting me what I wanted, or I didn’t really know what I wanted, so nothing seemed to fit in the results.  I tried to think of specific clips/songs/images/anything I could think of and THEN go find, but I drew a blank.  So, hence my subpar results (or at the very least, not what I wanted).

Running into trouble and wasting huge amounts of time (Part 2).  I created what felt like eight thousand tracks in Audacity using everyone’s 30 second sound clips along with the music.  Then I spent what felt like eighteen hours trying to insert periods of silence into the portions where I had inserted the new clips, so all you would hear would be the new clip and not the music or the foley sound effects.  What seems so simple–selecting something–utterly confounds me in Audacity.  I would type in the seconds/milliseconds-wouldn’t work.  I would use the little hand thing- wouldn’t’ work.  I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, and what I actually did when I did it right by chance.

And the end result was that the sound was off, but at this point my patience and Saturday are all about used up.  Here’s a screen capture of the Audacity file:


And the Movie Maker file:


You can see where the gaps in silence are on the audio and how they don’t match up.   If I had done it right, the silence in movie maker would have lined up with the new clips on the second row.  As you may have picked up on (ha!) this assignment was pretty frustrating for me.  I know that I’m learning a lot in the process–that’s what I’m trying to focus on and not so much as to what the end result will be.






One thought on “Chaplin Foley Re-Boot (or just boot?)

  1. Despite the struggles what you have here is a really well developed concept and effort and bringing it to video. I think you did learn a lot in the struggles.

    The thing that would have helped you in Audacity is the time shift tool, the one with arrows on both ends; it allows you to move a segment forwards and backwards in time

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