Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

If we’re going to live forever, then what is the point of photographing something? Looking at the photo at a later date can only hold you back from experiencing something new.

In spite of the above paragraph, one of my passions is preserving recordings.

It probably partly stems from a lifelong fascination with the TV series Doctor Who, of which there are still 108 episodes for which the pictures are no longer known to be held by the BBC.

Anyhow, the little bit of the world that I can do something about – stuff that I personally help to make – I tend to take great care over preserving properly.

On 15th July this year, Jacob, Tyrone and myself were to perform a sketch written by Brett at Cession Church. Alas, shortly before the performance, I learnt that there could be no video copy made of the service that evening. A shame for Brett who, unusually, had to miss the service and so would never see his script being performed.

I asked Sarah if she could video our sketch on her phone.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s phone had other ideas, and gave up after just six seconds.

Nonetheless, in the months that followed, those six seconds would become like gold-dust to me…

The sketch had been part 1 of a 4-part series, so I tried to get everyone together before the service the following week to reperform part 1 on video. In the event though we were all too busy rehearsing that week’s episode, (part 2 - which was videoed fine) and so we re-scheduled the reshoot again for week three.

Of course, we had no time on week three either, or even on week four, so now I found myself trying to get everyone together to refilm part 1 after the whole series had been finished.

So, we had copies of sketches 2, 3 and 4, as the video camera had taped those services okay, but it bugged me that everyone who might see these recordings in the future would, unanimously, have to forgive the absence of part 1.

Yes, yes this was definitely starting to sound like the William Hartnell era. And yet, I had an advantage over the latterday Doctor Who fan. I was aware that I existed at the only point in time when:

a) The three original actors were still living in the same area,
b) The three original actors still looked the same age, and
c) The three original actors could still fairly clearly recall our half-improvised performance.

If history was going to have a copy of this sketch, it had to be made now.

Getting us all together in the same room was clearly proving impossible though, so by 21st October I’d given up on actually revideoing it, and instead asked Jacob and Tyrone to simply rerecord their lines separately on audio, figuring that I could put their sound to appropriate stills from the later sketches to reconstruct the performance as a slideshow.

After they had kindly rerecorded their lines, I went home and wondered why I had settled for this compromise. If they’d been willing to re-say the lines into a microphone, then it should be just as easy to film them saying the lines with a camera. I wasn’t looking to shoot a Kubrick movie here – just head close-ups would be fine. Shots that could conceivably have been taken from the front row during the actual performance.

And that was really my focus here. Not something that would pretend to be a recording from that night, but rather a video that would honestly give an accurate, truthful account of what we had presented that evening.

For example, for the other three sketches Tyrone had brought some workmen’s reflector-jackets for he and Jacob to wear, but on the first week we hadn’t had those. Although we now had the opportunity to “fix” that shortcoming, I didn’t want to film a version that contradicted the original performance. We had told that first audience that these characters had said those exact words, in those exact clothes, in that exact pose, and I wanted to stand by what we had told them, as best as we and Sarah’s phone could recall. Of course, we’d also all been a little unsure of our lines, but while I was happy to try to repeat my fluffs, I wasn’t going to ask anyone else to. That would have been to lose sight of the greater goal – to make the world a cheerier place.

Thus, on the 28th October, as everyone was milling around after the service (and making it impossible to refilm it on the stage) Jacob and I went into a similarly acousticed room off the main church, hung one of Cession’s black tablecloths over a whiteboard, (to double for the black curtain that had been behind us) and reperformed our lines as Warren kindly shot us. Jacob had recently had his hair cut, so Warren cropped him at the forehead.

When Jacob left I thanked him: “Cheers for humouring me in my madness,” to which he laughed like a hyena, before kindly advising me “Recognition is the first step to healing.”

Ty was absent, but I figured we could get his lines in close-up the following week. At last it was all coming together.

Or it was until I was told that the tape containing the footage we’d just shot had gone AWOL.

Yes, we were back at square one again. Truly this moment in time was determined not to be filmed, and yet, that’s how it had once looked for An Unearthly Child too.

After I’d obtained a copy of the opening and closing music, on 4th November flatmate Cathy lent me her digital camera, and after that evening’s service, Ty and I nailed his lines once and for all.

Afterwards I returned to the stage and, holding the camera at arm’s length, took a mute cutaway of my feet too, despite the presence of many parishioners standing around drinking coffee.

Back home, Cathy filmed a couple of mute close-ups of me in front of a plain white-background, doubling for the back wall of the church. The lighting, provided by flatmate Dave’s halogen lamp, was completely different, but I didn’t care about that. Then I very suddenly did care when I accidentally knocked said lamp off of the coffee-table and smashed it to smithereens.

Whoops. The space-time continuum was angry. I’d forgotten that I was breaking a cardinal law of time-travel by going back and filming an event that had not been filmed in the first place. In fact, the continuum was so angry that it then devised a devious new way of preventing me from reshooting Jacob’s dialogue a third time. So just what was this latest insurmountable production-problem? Did Jacob catch flu and lose his voice? Did he quit Cession Church and join Destiny? Did he unexpectedly move house to the moon? No, all of those problems could have potentially been worked around. (even the moon one could have been fixed with a really, really long lens) No, this production issue was far, far more insurmountable than that…

Yes – Movember! An entire month when kiwi males grow mo’s for charity.

So I waited and waited until finally the last clean-shaven month of the year rolled around, (Fleshember?) and I was able to ask Jacob if he wouldn’t mind saying the lines for what I prayed would be the absolute fourth and final time.

Jacob was an incredibly good sport, so on 9th December, armed with flatmate Dave’s digital camera, we finally got Jacob’s shots in the can, and I snuck the black tablecloth and the mug I’d used on week one back home to reshoot my own lines.

You’d think that there could be no further problem with just filming myself. Except of course that my bedroom sounds nowhere near as echoey as the room in which Tyrone and Jacob had been filmed. As a result I had to rig-up a makeshift tripod to shoot myself lip-syncing to my dialogue that we’d audio-recorded at church back on 28th October. Oh, and both the camera batteries were almost dead, so I had to get it right quickly. There is a badge I’m wearing that I wasn’t on the night, but that was too trivial even for me to worry about redoing.

Then began the process of arguing with Windows Movie Maker and a similar program in Nero, both of which had their respective advantages and disadvantages. One wouldn’t read the movies from Cathy’s camera. Neither would recognize the file from Sarah’s phone. In the end I had to upload that one to YouTube, and download it again as an avi via

The most challenging problem to negotiate with the software though, was the way that deleting a shot would automatically move all the subsequent shots earlier to fill-in the gap, whilst deleting a piece of sound would, correctly, just leave them where they were. In the end this made resyncing everything such a chore that I finally drew a line under the whole project and just uploaded the rough cut as it was. Yes, I had finally reached the stage of deciding that it was all too much trouble. It was ragged around the edges, but good enough for me.

It’s not Koyaanisqatsi, but it is a fairly accurate representation of what the audience saw that night, five months ago.

The other episodes:

Part 2 of 4
Part 3 of 4
part 4 of 4

And now, here is a description of all the trouble I went to recalling all the different dates and events for this blog-post…

Labels: ,

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **