Chris Brickler: Documenting Love with Vegas
Chris Brickler Pieces Together the Puzzle of Attraction with DV and Music
Even in this golden era of documentaries, unraveling the mystery of love is an ambitious undertaking. For Chris Brickler, taking up this challenge requires a multimedia approach. With Vegas software, he is able to integrate his talents as a musician/composer, video producer, editor, writer, and interviewer to realize his concept for engaging an audience with sound, images, ideas, and feelings.
"I came into this from the audio side and have found that Vegas is much more intuitive than other multitrackers I'd used," said Brickler. "Now with my video work, people can't believe the incredible soundscapes I've been able to create using a video editing package."
How Will We Love? started unexpectedly the way some novelists suddenly discover that they are writing a novel after sketches and notes suddenly catch fire. While at a family gathering celebrating his grandparents' 63-year wedding anniversary, Brickler decided to interview them to preserve this bit of family history on DVCAM. What he captured with his Sony® PD150 turned out to be more intriguing than he expected. Entering into his grandparents' world showed a stark contrast to the views and experiences of love, commitment and connection familiar to his 30-something sensibilities. The project took off trying to create a context to bring out this contrast.
Now two years into what he expects will be a three-year project, the final product will be a feature-length release. But, along the way, Brickler plans on building an online documentary/video channel dedicated to love and relationships featuring a series of five-minute shorts created from the footage. From a promotions standpoint, offering these vignettes is a powerful marketing strategy, but it is also in keeping with his overall aim. Rather than try to come to closure on the subject, his intent is to provoke a conversation with the audience.
"I'm not really sure if the project has a conclusion, unlike most documentaries that are self-contained," said Brickler. "We're interviewing people from all over world and expect to have some 150 hours of footage to do this justice. We're not so interested in coming to closure, but rather creating an opening."
The Audio Past as Prelude
In some ways, How Will We Love? is a natural outgrowth of Brickler's background. As an undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin in the early 90s, Bricker breathed in an indie atmosphere infused with the likes of Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, and Wes Anderson. At the time, his creative interests focused on making music and exploring the soon-to-be emerging online medium. For a time, he shelved his creative ambitions for a wild ride on the business end of the Dot-Com boom in the US and in Europe. He kept his interest in music alive by continuing to play out and by joining the home studio revolution mastering the skills of digital audio production on the Macintosh platform.
As the tech boom ended, Brickler recommitted to his creative ambitions and has since enjoyed considerable success as a founding member of Reflection Theory, a six-piece band that has appeared as the opening act for Moby. Extending his creative palette into video came with switching to PC's and adopting Vegas software as his production platform. Alongside creating music, Brickler picked up a Sony PD150 DVCAM camcorder and began shooting and producing online short-form features for commercial clients including Match.com, the online dating service. Building on his grasp of multitrack audio editing, mastering Vegas' audio capabilities was instant and intuitive. The added dimension of video capabilities seemed no more than an obvious expansion on this. He taught himself the basics of DV production on the job. The work took him around the country shooting events and creating pieces explaining Match.com features and services. As he furthered his commercial production skills, Brickler created the first-ever in-flight television program covering the digital music revolution. Reaching nearly 20 million passengers on the vast SkyTV network, Real Networks quickly grabbed the exclusive sponsorship and eliminated MSN, AOL, iTunes, Yahoo, and Napster from the running. He also produced an in-flight program on health and wellness, sponsored by Dole Foods, that included interviewing several notable physicians and celebrities and bringing general awareness to the American public about critical dieting/exercise issues.
Brickler's skills have advanced much as Vegas has become refined through three major upgrades since he first began using it. With one foot in video and another in music, the Vegas environment has proven to be an excellent match for his talents. Despite the power of these tools, he says they remain the means to expressing his creative vision rather than shifting the focus.
"Editing with Vegas is really easy. It didn't take me long to get results. One of the things I really appreciate about working with it is that I've been able to hold onto some of the raw intimacy that's too-often lost with the overuse of production technology," Brickler said.
Finding the Edge Pieces in the Puzzle of Love
With How Will We Love?, Brickler is bringing all his talents to bear as he interviews a wide variety of people offering different approaches to it from the clinical to the creative. Then, he frames the footage with his own creative response using Vegas software.
"What I do best is make people feel comfortable in front of the camera and get them talking. I don't just add a soundtrack to this after I've edited it. Often, I'll write, perform and record a song inspired by an interview."
Aside from doing double duty as a fully integrated multitracker and video editing platform, Brickler continues to discover the richness of Vegas software as he builds in additional layers of meaning with his own visual language.
"Vegas helps me create a visual translation for the contrasting perceptions I'm communicating. I've created a signature 'look' to create a mood in certain segments. For the scenes reflecting my grandparents' perspective, I've added a tone that captures something like the sepia tint of the old black and white pictures, evoking the mood of that era."
For more information about Chris Brickler and his latest projects, go to www.howwillwelove.com.