Music Video: Dinosaur Jr. – “Start Choppin’”

Post by Paul Devlin & Ernie Fritz:

Before video editing could be done on a laptop, it often involved a complicated tape-based off-line/on-line process. A music video, for example, would be worked on for days on inexpensive equipment and low-quality video, generating an edit decision list (EDL). That list would then be used to on-line or conform the final edit on the high-end very expensive equipment and tape. Lot’s of time off-lining, quickly as possible on-lining.

I on-lined edited dozens of music videos back in the day. This one was off-line edited by my friend Ernie Fritz, who has the back story:

If there is a video that is the definition of “fucked up”, this is it – – and looking back at it now, that’s why it’s great. I was the editor and this video, and I must admit, I thought it was doomed the first time I saw the footage. My friend Drew Carolan directed and I had no idea what he wanted or what was on his mind. I don’t think he knew either – – no let me rephrase that; he clearly didn’t know what he wanted but he was director who loved to have fun and always pulled something out of the hat.

And so it was that we set out to edit it. He had some vague idea that he would key in some footage behind the band and then the girl with green paint on her hands would have some of that same footage keyed onto hands. What the guy in the net was, nobody knew. On top of that, I don’t think he actually had any footage to put in the background. Did I have anything that would work? I found some old tape of fish that I laying around in the machine room. I think Drew found some other footage of a field also somewhere else.

To make matters worse, The green screen that they shot was actually terrible and would not key right. In fact, you can see the seam on the floor where it meets the background. Were they high when they shot this?

If this was not enough, we were working on 3/4 tape(U-Matic) in a 3 machine room. (for those of you who don’t know what that means, the simple answer is that it was like drilling teeth on a wiggling dog) It was painful, but according to Drew we were going to have a great time doing it. We had to; Jay Mascis (the lead singer and leader of the band) was going to be coming down and hanging out while we were doing this. This meant that the edit session would have to start at 6PM because he wants to be there, but he couldn’t get there before then.

I went in early. I wanted to try to get a head jump on this edit before anyone got there and see if I could work out a plan…

Whoops, I think Ernie lost the thread somewhere. Hey, Ernie if I remember correctly, that session got a little crazy, especially after people like Matt Dillon started showing up. Don’t leave us hanging, tell us what happened next!

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.