“Minor Metamorphosis” Video Appropriation Project

A 24 second video edited through Adobe Premiere Pro synthesizing material from 2 magical girl anime clips and 1 movie.

This video was produced for the course VISA110. The three videos appropriated are:

First transformation sequence of Sailor Moon (visual footage only)

"Let's play a game" Dress up sequence from Leon: The Professional (visual footage only)

First transformation sequence of Creamy Mami (audio only)

Project aim:

To take video footage from other sources and edit them in a way that reveals a different meaning from the original, using Adobe Premiere.

Why did I choose this project theme?

I was interested in exploring alternative perspectives within visual images that had a long-held conventional interpretation. For this project, I focused on interpretations of footage that involved the transformation minors into adult-like appearances, and selected clips that represented similar things but had radically different responses.

The dress-up game from Leon: The Professional is easily one of the most controversial images as it shows a 12 year old girl, Mathilda, dressing up and transforming into sexualized adult characters. Yet the transformation sequences of Sailor Moon and Creamy Mami (Magical Girl animes), in which both characters are also minors and also in matters of appearance transforming to more adult depictions (Sailor Moon in a shorter, tighter version of her junior high uniform, and Creamy Mami's ability is to grow from 10 to 16 years old), are commonly accepted and in the case of Sailor Moon revered as a hyperfeminine feminist icon.

From the editing the videos and audio together, I hope to highlight the similarity in the 3 clips of how they all transform minors into adults, and in extension question the autonomy by which they transform (Mathilda has a say in what she wears; Magical girls do not).

Skills used and Challenges:

  • Decision-making: One important process I went through was deciding what footage I would be using to create my political statement. Initially I had planned to use compilations of Anime Girl footage, however I realized that it was impossible to know the original context and intent of every single clip in the compilation. Therefore, I decided to limit myself to 2 magical girl animes and 1 clip from a movie, all 3 of which I had watched myself and knew the detailed history of. This allowed me to make a more focussed and knowledgeable statement.
  • Video Editing: I learned how to use basic skills in Adobe Premiere which include audio editing, superimposition, speeding and reversing videos.

Example: Superimposition Footage of Leon: The Professional superimposed on Sailor Moon

  • Risk-taking: The clip from Leon: The Professional has always been a controversial image and especially taken out of context, it appears even more uncomfortable to watch. My initial response towards this clip was also discomfort as well. However, I wanted to dig deeper from this initial response and reveal how it could be interpreted in other ways, particularly more positive ones. By watching this clip repeatedly and analyzing for similarities and differences with other clips, I forced myself to reflect on the more detailed elements in the scene that bypassed me the first time when I recoiled from the image.
  • Time Management: A big obstacle to doing this project was the availability of software, because I could not install Adobe Premiere on my computer.
    • Challenge--Access to resources: I had to rely on computers with Adobe software provided at UBC, which for ones that were regularly accessible only amounted to 8 throughout the entire campus. Therefore, I had to plan out my time diligently, especially anticipating times when the computers would be fully occupied. This trained my ability to distribute work into multiple days, and also pay attention to statistics of people flow throughout the day.

Final outcomes:

I also explored this theme of transformation in youth in my Creative Writing course, in a more personal and less political way. Click here for details.


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Learning Significance

  1. Morals and Ethics (Art and Appropriation):
    One of the goals of this project for me was to reflect on to what extent it was ethical to use other people's creations as "found objects" to create my own work of art and change the way they were represented. I think my project in particular pushed limits because I was attempting to interpret the footage in the exact opposite way they were commonly seen, and on an especially sensitive topic of sexualizing minors. After doing this project and receiving peer critique, I have realized that my interpretation of the footage is ethical so long as the original intention of the clips are also clearly communicated to the audience.
    That is, as long as I make note of the fact that *I* am changing the meaning of the clips and the original creators of the footage themselves had different intentions, I am drawing a clear line between what they were trying to achieve and what I observe, so that I am not necessarily accusing them of having ulterior motives that my editing suggests.