Data's Dream

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Vid
Title: Data's Dream, aka Flight Dreams set to Orinoco Flow
Creator: Gayle F. & Tashery S
Date: 1994 (remastered in 2004)
Format: VCR vid (later remastered as a digital vid)
Length: 4:53 minutes
Music: Enya
Genre: meta vid
Fandom: Multiple Fandoms
Footage: Multiple Fandoms
URL: To view the vid, please contact Morgan Dawn here.

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Data's Dream is a multi-fandom vid drawing from science fiction and fantasy movies and TV shows from the past 40 years set to Enya's "Orinoco Flow." The vid premiered at the 1994 Escapade vid show. The concept was sparked by a suggestion by Tashery S while the vid itself was almost wholly edited by Gayle F. It is a VCR vid but was remastered digitally with additional source material in 2004 by Morgan Dawn.

In the summer of 2013, the vid was selected to be part of the vidding segment in the New York Museum of the Moving Image exhibition "Cut Up".

Summary

The vid is deceptively simple at first glance: Enya's song has, at best, a few recognizable lyrics which are often overwhelmed by the vocalizations and synthetic music (the chorus "sail away, sail away" makes up the bulk of the lyrics). The structure of the vid as well seems formless: images of characters from TV shows and movies randomly intercut and the vid lacks a coherent narrative flow.

It is the vid's 'frame' however that tells the true story. The vid opens with silence as the android Data, a character from Star Trek: TNG, watches in a dream as a heated metal raven's wing is lowered into water. From the resulting steam bath a raven flies up, past Data and into the ceiling of the Starship. The vid then flashes to white and the viewer finds herself soaring alongside an Icarus-like figure and flying next to Peter Pan as he travels to Neverland. What follows is a smörgåsbord of imagery of spaceships and sailing ships, lovers dancing and heroic adventures, journeys of exploration in both space and under the sea, unicorns and pegasi, aliens and lovers - essentially every science fiction and fantasy movie or TV show that has managed to capture the world's imagination.

Viewers familiar with Star Trek: TNG will recognize the opening clip: it takes place shortly after Data, the android who longs to be human, has been implanted with a microchip that will enable him to dream for the first time. The vid ends by returning to Data and the microchip. The camera flows back down from a white ceiling to refocus on Data as he opens his eyes and gasps in awe after his first dream. By the end of the vid even viewers not familiar with the Data's story understand the frame: this is a journey of wonder and imagination.

The vid has often been included in lists of vids to show fans unfamiliar with vidding or non-fans because it does not rely on an extensive understanding of the source. Since it pulls from a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy movies and TV shows aired over the last 40 years, most non-fans will have at least a passing familiarity with the imagery:

"...I think that multi vids are the best way to show what vidding does, because it tends to be about cross-comparison among shows. In this case, I gave D. an old favourite, a vid that was made originally in 1993, but then remastered and slightly remade a few years ago. It's a vid about a genre (speculative fiction) that is more about evoking mood and wonder than telling a story (though the frame-story of Data's Dream is fabulous)." [1]

At least one vidder has been inspired by the vid to learn vidding:

"I was at the 1994 Escapade vid show and was enthralled when Data's Dream (or Orinoco Flow as it was called then) came on the screen. The flow of the music perfectly matched the clip choices with both color and internal clip movement carefully selected to create a form of visual poetry. When the pegasus from Disney's 'Fantasia' came swooping down to land in the water perfectly timed to a trill of music, I suddenly understood what vidding could be: as a vidder, I could beam my thoughts and feelings straight into my audience's head and through the combination of music and video reach them emotionally and viscerally on a level that writing could never do. I wanted to be that vidder and so I started my journey to learn how to vid."[2]

Editing and Technical Notes

The Remaster

In 2004, Morgan Dawn offered to remaster the vid since the original VHS tapes had degraded and many copies still suffered from distortion caused by Macrovision copy-guard protection:

I always loved and admired the vid and I needed something to make the transition from VCR to computer editing. This seemed like a great project. My initial intent was to match every clip - frame by frame - to the original. After all, digital computer vidding was supposed to allow us precise control down to the frame level. We quickly learned this was impossible as the original source was recorded on, and the vid itself was made on, VHS cassette tapes. VHS tapes had variable tape stretch and this in turn meant that some clips extended beyond their musical sections, while others fell short. We either had to cut frames from clips or learn to live with clips ending off the musical beat. We also discovered there was source we could not find - either on DVD or VHS tape (Satyricon for example).

So we opened up the remaster to including new source. After all the middle portion of the vid was all about bringing in a wide range sci fi and fantasy movies/TV shows. I looked for DVDs[3] that thematically matched the clips we were replacing. We included the LOTR movies, TV shows like Farscape and my personal favorite, a clip from the Beatles movie The Yellow Submarine.

When we replaced the clips I decided to focus on (a) filling in missing source or source that suffered from tape distort, (b) replacing repeated source with new source, and (c) creating more internal structure by focusing on the rule of three (placing three clips using the same theme in a row)."

It was the rule of three that was the basis for the biggest change to the vid - the final clips. Just before the camera returns to Data, Gayle had placed two images signifying death or a transition to another state of awareness: the scene from Ghost where Patrick Swazye's character walks into the light and the scene from the movie Brainstorm where a scientist experiences the recording of someone's last dying moments (again by going into the light). I felt that these clips were a key part of Data's dream of becoming human, but the build-up right beforehand was lacking. She had used a clip from Star Trek: The Motion Picture where a man and woman joined with an alien to form a new consciousness. This seemed a natural transition, going from the theme of love and the desire for a physical union into the mystery of joining with the universe or God at the end of our lives. I inserted two more images of love and death and transformation to build on this theme: I included a scene from Ladyhawke where two lovers reach out to one another in the brief moments before dusk and dawn, the only moments when they can see one another in their human forms. I then followed it with a clip from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, where Frodo Kisses Sam goodbye before he boards the ship to sail to the Grey Havens.

List of Movies and TV Shows

Sources listed in the original (not in order): Star Trek: TNG, Little Mermaid, Abyss, E.T., Clash of the Titans, Star Wars (A New Hope), Star Trek 4, Around the World In 80 Days, Quantum Leap, Legend, Sinbad, Star Wars (A New Hope/Empire), Blake's 7, Tron, Fantasia, Time After Time, Babylon 5, Close Encounters, Star Trek: TNG, Star Wars (A New Hope), Superman, Indiana Jones, Flash Gordon, Starman, Star Trek 3: Search For Spock, Ladyhawke, Last Starfighter, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Satyricon, Edward Scissorhands, Legends, Superman II, Excalibur, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Ghost, Brainstorm.

Sources used in the remaster (in clip order. note some source is used multiple times): Star Trek: TNG, Brazil, What Dreams May Come, Hook, Little Mermaid, Abyss, ET, Harry Potter, Clash of the Titans, Stargate SG1, ??? , Star Wars (A New Hope), Star Trek 4, Around the World In 80 Days, Legend, Sinbad, LOTR: the Two Towers, Star Wars (A New Hope/Empire), Blake's 7, Yellow Submarine, Tron, Fantasia, Time After Time, Babylon 5, Close Encounters, Contact, Star Trek: TNG, Farscape, Star Wars (A New Hope), Superman, Indiana Jones, Spirited Away, Flash Gordon, Beauty & The Beast (Disney), Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, Deep Space 9, Close Encounters, Farscape, Starman, Star Trek 3: Search For Spock, Ladyhawke, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Clash of the Titans, Flash Gordon, Finding Nemo, Abyss, Edward Scissorhands, Crouching Tiger, Legends, Superman II, VR5, Contact, Stargate SG1, LOTR: The Fellowship, Excalibur, Ladyhawke, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, LOTR: The Return of the King, Ghost, Brainstorm, Star Trek: TNG.

Reviews/Comments

  • "The last song on the tape is Orinoco Flow, by our own Gayle. I loved the vid (a beautiful song set with all of the images of why we love video science fiction, (in fact, it reminded me of a discussion in the Catch Trap by Marian Zimmer Bradley, a must read for a slash fan about why people love trapeze acts, that it is all about our desire to fly.) Beautiful vid." [4]
  • "Fandom on acid - a multifandom vid set to Orinoco Flow, showing all those fantasy- and scifi-moments that are beautiful and dreamlike. A little like those Oscar montages, only better than most of them." [5]
  • "There is a story by Cordwainer Smith, one of my favorite SF writers, called Golden The Ship Was - Oh! Oh! Oh!. It is all that one of its characters can say, after a battle in space that may or may not have happened. Right now, I know how he feels. I want you to watch this vid by GF & TS. It is called 'Data's Dream' now, which is not its name, and by its name I knew it for years, long before I saw my first vid or knew any vid fans - it was that famous, and now it's remastered and online. And it was everything I thought it would be. It's about fandom, and flight dreams, and hope, and you should watch it. Golden the ship was - Oh! Oh! Oh!" [6]
  • "A sumptuous, gorgeous tribute to fandom and imagination." [7]
  • "Whereas the other multi fandom vids tend to be rather frantic, this one is the complete opposite - dreamy and melodious. Data's Dream.... is an older vid, that showcases the beauty of imagination - of science fiction and fantasy, of dreams and magic and illusions. Come, and dream a dream of pegasi and mermaids and ships flying among the stars." [8]
  • "“Data’s Dream” – this vid, by Gayle and Tashery, is always fabulous, even more so in its latest incarnation. Its sweep and beauty and flow – mmm! I always play ‘guess the movie’, and there’s still a few I don’t recognize, but everything blends together into this wonderful fantasy universe where all of our heroes and heroines come out to play." [9]
  • "Orinoco Flow (Enya), multimedia, Gayle F and Tashery S. I *really* liked this vid. It was very different, not telling a story at all, just moving from image to image, all kinda of sailing/soaring images from different science fiction or fantasy films, everything from ET to Stargate to Treasure Planet to Clash of the Titans. (There was even a shot from Flash Gordon, which elicited a chuckle from several audience members.) The rhythm of the visuals matched the music, and there were some nice bookending moments. (One of the early clips is Luke in the white karate outfit swinging Leia across a chasm in the Death Star from Ep. 4; it's parallelled by a clip toward the end of a black-suited Luke swinging gold-bikini Leia onto a hover-skiff in Return of the Jedi.) This was one I was eager to show to CGU, and he really liked it." [10]
  • "From what I understand, this was a re-cut. Why? Was the first one in need of more stuff? People raved.. it was so long I forgot about Data halfway through. Nicely done - But please - DO NOT add EVEN more to it - it'll end up being the whole vid show." [11]
  • "The remaster is gorgeous, and I'm so happy to have this on the con DVD. As much as I enjoyed it at the vid show, it was watching it again at Vid Review that made me cry, and I wasn't the only one. The love in the room for this vid at review was powerful and tangible. I don't remember who said it, but she was right: it's not just about Data's dream, it's a love poem to the entire genre of science fiction and fantasy and the things that we, as fans, love about it." [12]

Highlighted in 2015

This vid was featured at "MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture" at the Vancouver Art Gallery in February 2016, along with six other fanworks. This part of the exhibit was curated by Francesca Coppa.

The exhibit is here: MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Archived version

The vids were:

Vidder brionic describes their visit to the exhibit here: bironic, Archived version, February 24, 2016

here's luck's comments are here: heresluck, Archived version

References

  1. How do you make a vids starter-pack? by thingswithwings, dated July 3rd, 2008.
  2. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed August 4, 2011.
  3. The choice to use DVDs was another challenge in remastering the vids. Morgan Dawn writes: "The original vid used VHS tapes which had the 4:3 aspect ratio (regular TV screen sizes). In 2004, many of the movies had been released on DVD and were no longer available on VHS tape. This meant the movie footage was now letterboxed (formatted for the cinema widescreen). But wait! Some of the TV shows and other movies were only available in the 4:3 ratio (TV screens)- which meant the remastered vid would be constantly swapping between full screen and cinema screen - something that would interrupt the dream like quality of the vid. We first decided to go with DVD source and use the letterbox aspect ratio - we had more choice and better quality source. Then, for the footage we could not find on DVD or in letter-box format, I created a matte filter that simulated the letter-boxing by inserting a black bar on the top and the bottom of the screen. I then had to reposition each matted clip manually up and down to make certain that key features, faces or details were not cut off. It was - as is typical with vidding - an OCD experience - but was essential to maintain the vid's flow."
  4. Sandy Hereld, April 28, 1994, at Virgule-L, quoted with permission
  5. Katta's FanVid Recs.
  6. Incoherent but heartfelt vid rec by marycrawford dated Feb. 28th, 2005.
  7. Monsters From The Vids Recommendations by giandujakiss, dated April 8, 2007.
  8. and more vid recs by naye, dated October 18, 2007.
  9. Fannish Weekend Day 2: SGA and BASCon vids! by Kathy Resch, dated Feb 3, 2006.
  10. Escapade 2005 by molly-o, dated February 27th, 2005.
  11. Escapade 2005 vid by poison pagan dated March 3, 2005.
  12. Data's Dream comment by par avion, dated March 1, 2005; WebCite.