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Title: Candleburn
Creator: charmax
Date: August 2004, remastered
Format: digital, DivX AVI and WMV
Length: 4:07m
Music: Dishwalla
Fandom: Firefly
URL: vid announcement page; streaming Youtube version

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screncap of the vid's title card

Candleburn is a Mal character study vid by Charmax.

Vidder's summary:"Mal always feels the presence of Inara."

Vidder's Remaster Notes

"Notes: The original vid was made October 04. This was part of my remastering project because I still loved the song and concept of the vid but found the transitions I used in the original video were a bit distracting. So the main changes here are softening those transitions to make them less jarring with the tone of the song. As usual with these remasters the picture quality is much improved and the aspect ratio corrected. There are a few minor clip changes which I feel add to the video.

ETA: Lim asked me to write a breakdown of the transitions I applied in my video “Candleburn” so here we are with some brief explanatory notes.

Firstly there are 3 types of transitions used, one is a soft gradient wipe then there are cross fades and fade to black. I used the gradient wipe to show Inara whispering in and out of Mal’s view. Specific time stamps for those are: 0.49, 0.51, 0.57, 1.33, 2.47-2.50, 2.55, 3.00, 3.07, 3.13 and 3.15. The default gradient mask in Premiere is hard and blocky. I used the gradient wipe in after-effects which allows you to get a much softer effect by using one clip as the mask for the other. On other occasions I have made a soft gradient mask within Photoshop and then applied it within Premiere as a gradient transition to get a similar effect. The key to making Inara appear to be ghostly was in me finding *exactly* the same shot without her in it, even if it was only for a couple of frames. Sometimes I had to slow the scene down by 10%. On one occasion 3.05 where Inara is pointing the gun, the background in the original scene was very plain and blue and so I was able to key it out and fade her in without the background.

The dips to black are fairly self explanatory and were very handy for setting the tone of the introduction. The cross fades were done by manually overlaying one clip and fading it into the next rather than using Premiere Pro’s cross fade transition. By doing this I was able to key frame the cross fade to look as soft and smooth as possible. I often find that the default cross fade transition in Premiere Pro can make the image drop out making the transition look a bit ragged.

The clip of Inara coming through the static 3.19 was done on a separate sequence then applied to the cut-out screen which I made using an alpha mask in Photoshop.

I think that pretty much covers the effects and transitions. There was some colouring done to the dancing clips to make them fit with the inter-cut scenes better but that’s pretty much it.

The idea was to create an ethereal version of Inara that Mal glimpses but cannot quite reach. Although she is a tougher character than this in the show I really wanted the vid to be filled with longing and regret at missed opportunities. Inara’s space is always red and gold and Mal is lost in a world of grey and blue without her.

I think that pretty much sums it up... I hope it's been helpful."[1]

Reactions and Reviews

"This still remains one of my favorite Firefly videos. I think you do a great job of telling the story and giving it a wonderful haunted feeling. I especially love when you have Inara appear and then disappear. Neat trick!"[2]
"I was sitting in my dorm room trying to read John Milton's Comus, and my roommate makes sure to distract me by saying she had found a new Mal/Inara video. Hoping for the best, I watch. And am blown away.

The clips are all so crisp, and the transitions are flawless. Nothing seemed pieced together. It looked like it had been made that way (the clips from OOG in the beginning in specific).

Then we got to the portion of the vid which had all of the fading in of Inara. I was blown away.

A puddle of fangirl by the end, I was wondering how on earth something so splendid could come along at this exact moment as I was being bored to tears previously.

At last the credits roll, and I see your name. It all becomes clear. I have always been a fan of your work, but always seemed to be a little too late in replying before it was a year later. So, now I am making up for all the praise that I have been storing up.

Thank you so very much for making my night. Continue being so damn loverly."[3]
"Oh man. it's no secret that I never liked any of Firefly's canon ships, but this vid just completely drew me in and actually made Mal/Inara make sense to me, which - believe me - was no mean feat. I loved the movement in this piece, the shots that you chose and how they flowed into each other.

OH WOW!!! How on earth did you do those transitions? They are so flawless and gorgeous!!! Especially with the subtle colour changes. Wow, I'm in awe. My favourite is 3:01 - the background changes on her before she disappears out of it. So cool. And then that look is echoed in the later sequences."

3:19 - I love the perspective of the shot of her there, it really looks like she's on the screen. And I love how she faded in and out of the static like that.

3:54 - loved the subtle flares on the drums there, and how the thrusters fade as the music fades.

Gorgeous colour schemes. I also thought it was interesting how, when it turns bluer and bluer toward the end, it seems to signify the blue colours ofSerenity, acknowledging that the story doesn't end here and doesn't necessarily end unhappily, even though it's by nature a melancholy colour. I may be reading too much into that, but I like this explanation because you get a happier ending. :D

(And you know, the mere fact that I even think that is pretty disturbing. For me, Mal should end happily with River or Simon, never Inara. And yet you have brainwashed me with this vid, you evil wench.)

I love your titles too. Mind if I pick your brain on how that's done? :D

Ahhhh, just an amazing vid all around. Flawlessly carried out!"[4]
"Okay, despite the obvious differences in style and execution this vid somehow reminded me of your ‚Strange and Beautiful’ Xander/Buffy vid. Of course in all the right ways to make my little black heart ache hard. You really worked out superb the longing angle and no escape from his emotions Mal must feel in Inara’s space. Serenity is his ship and still he lost her comfort to his yearning for a woman he knows, isn’t in his league or even galaxy.

The way you interwoven the three main characters – yes, inanimated objects are since recently considered value characters – is beautiful. Inara doesn’t torture him on purpose and still her being a companion stings on so many levels for this no-nonsense and devoted man which have all to do with his heart’s desire and you still paint such an exquisite view of her in his eyes. It’s like Xander’s view of Buffy in ‘Strange and Beautiful’ – Mal also sees Inara’s flaws and weaknesses and he loves her not in spite, but because of them and he comes unhinge with all his care and longing and she with the knowledge that he couldn’t accept her profession.

Her fading in and out on him isn’t just her haunting him, but also their separate worlds and it just adds to his loneliness in ‘Candleburn’ without being sappy or overly dramtic. I think you utterly captured a big part – if not the biggest - of Mal’s character in this vid, that his devotion once regained, is almost impossible to shake and how it kills him slowly, if he can’t freely express his commitment to an idea, a woman or his love. Wonderful character study and terrific vid that burns your heart slowly and then just leaves ashes in its wake.

And to mention one more time the fading, it’s marvellous and just works for several motives and purposes. Excellent work, my love!"[5]
"Oh, whoa. This is absolutely breathtaking. I love the small things you focus on - the bit where the music picks up and there's the shot if Inara kneeling - just her torso and legs - I don't know why that got me but it just struck me as a fantastic detail. And then of course your effects, which are both heartbreaking and - actually - kind of chilling. And the quality of this is just...beautiful. Lovely, thank you for sharing."[6]
"For me, Inara has always been the least accessible of the Firefly characters. And so it took me a bit by surprise that I liked this vid so much, a vid which is all about her. Okay, so technically it is about Mal seeing and feeling Inara everywhere, but for me, it was all about Inara, about her grace, her beauty and her character, which is much more complex than what the series could show us (not for lack of trying, there just wasn't enough time.)"[7]
"I’ve never seen Firefly, actually – I’m dying to, but haven’t been able to get ahold of the DVDs. Anyhow, I decided to check this one out because I’ve got a friend who’s really big on the Mal/Inara love, and I wanted to see what they were all about. And I gotta say, this vid is just absolutely beautiful. It’s wistful and poignant, and just incredibly hypnotically beautiful. And even though I know only the most basic facts about these characters, I really feel like I’ve got a definite understanding of their relationship and feelings for one another after seeing this. I love the song selection, as well – it just compliments everything beautifully. Veeery nice."[8]

  1. ^ vid announcement page
  2. ^ comment at the streaming Youtube version
  3. ^ comment at the vid announcement page
  4. ^ comment at the vid announcement page
  5. ^ comment at the vid announcement page
  6. ^ comment at the vid announcement page
  7. ^ oceanas-recs dated June 2008.
  8. ^ comment at the vidder's website, dated Jan 2005.