Friday, April 17, 2015

Ken Kesey and home films

I once wrote about finding Tom Wolfe's book about Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters ("The electric kool aid acid test"). That period in history has always intrigued me, so I was very pleased to see that a documentary television channel was screening a film comprised of footage shot in 1964 when the Merry Pranksters drove from California to New York. Naturally I recorded this.

Whilst Wolfe describes the trip fairly accurately, the film reveals details of which I hadn't been previously aware. Here's an example: Jane Burton, someone who appears in the early days, was a professor of philosophy at Stanford University and was also pregnant at the time of the trip. 

As one might expect from a film made by people stoned out of their gourd with hand held cameras (and no sync between the video and the audio), some of the footage is hard to watch. Fortunately, the film's producers made a wise decision and included archive footage from other sources, including Kesey talking about his first acid trips; these inserts make the film easier on the eyes and brain.

Talking of home movies, I installed Microsoft Movie Maker 2.6 on my new computer; although this is not the latest version of the program, it's the one which works best with Windows 8.1 (so I read). The raw video footage which we took in Sorrento is in .MOD format, which does not show in WMM, but once the clips were converted to WMV format, I could import them and start making a film.

Some parts of the holiday have too much footage - especially the trip down the Amalfi coast - but other parts are lacking. Whilst we were on holiday, I backed up my wife's mobile phone onto the computer, so I had immediate access to the videos which she filmed; these extended the available footage. Whilst we had a good deal of footage around the hotel and Marina Grande, it turns out that we have almost no footage of the Sorrento streets and market. 

I resolved that when we are next on holiday, I will save and review the footage each evening, thus giving a chance to film local places which I neglected to film previously. I've always found that after the holiday, I prefer watching the environment (the hotel/apartment and streets) where we stayed as opposed to the 'attractions'. This might be because the attractions are generally covered in guide books and commercial dvds, but of course, no one else filmed our hotel.

[SO: 3889; 3,15,36]

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