The Week That Was #2019-07 (Jumbo Video Edition)

Yes, this weekly update is a couple of days late. It is also the shortest one yet (although it is  also the longest in one aspect).

While last week was mostly one of fun and games — the Old Phuket Town Festival taking up Sunday, Monday and Tuesday plus Valentine’s Day on Thursday — this week (and the next two or three) are going to find me struggling to get things done. Today was one of the biggest Buddhist holidays of the year and most schools were closed (mine was open but I don’t have any classes scheduled on Tuesdays); I spent most of it doing assessment-related tasks at my agency’s office — a taste of the huge amount of paperwork that comes with the end of a school year.

Calm before the storm....
Calm before the storm….

However, that is grist for next week’s entry.

For this week, I will let the videos do the talking. I uploaded three videos to my YouTube channel (one of the reasons for the delay of this entry).

The first video is of a song performed during the Old Town Festival’s opening night parade. It is a new song written about Phuket (It was first performed last autumn during a local food festival) and was performed last Sunday evening by several hundred young women of the Baba-Nyonya culture which I find endlessly fascinating. Nyonya is the term for the women and Baba for the men who are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to southern Thailand (primarily Phuket and Ranong) between the 15th and 17th centuries. They are also called Peranakan or Straits-born Chinese. They are responsible for the style of architecture (“Sino-Portuguese”) prevalent in the Old Town area, as well as the colorful clothing and much of the local cuisine.

For the parade, the entire length of the main road through the Old Town (at least 2 kilometers) contained 200 or 300 women all wearing pink Nyonya-style silk dresses doing a choreographed dance with a handkerchief while the song played over the loud speakers. I was at the head of the parade, just west of the small park dedicated on Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 72nd birthday (and named thusly) so I got to see that a famous Thai singer (I cannot remember his name as I write this but he won one of the big Thai music shows on TV, either “Thailand’s Got Talent” or “The Voice”) was singing live accompanied by a choir of young school girls. Many of my high school students served as a “human cordon” to keep spectators from crossing the parade route. Anyway, I hope the video conveys the beauty of the song performance (and the enormity of it).

The second video is just a couple of short clips of a popular fixture of our weekly Sunday evening “Lard Yai” walking street events. In the nine years since the night of food and song began, I’d never heard him play any Santana (and “Black Magic Woman”>”Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va” happen to be two of my favorite Santana songs). I wish I’d captured the entire performance but my battery was giving me issues already. I need to remember to carry spares!

The final video is “jumbo-sized”, containing more than 360 still photos and a few video clips (but not the two shown above), lasting just over 40 minutes. one of the most difficult parts of creating the video was trying to choose the photos while still including my favorites and trying to tell the various stories of the week — mostly the Festival but there’s a bit of classroom and Valentine’s Day footage as well. I had taken nearly 700 photos during the week so about half of them are in the video. I chose to let the software make all the transitions; most are pretty good but there are a couple that don’t work well.

I like to include Thai music as soundtracks to my videos, but I didn’t want to use 40 minutes worth. So, I began with a short bit of Chinese music (I didn’t have anything really traditional; time to find some!) and then added some that I’ve been listening to lately — a couple of instrumentals by Blue Man Group, a favorite by Thalía that seems odd but I still like it in the video, a fun jazzy hip-hop song by US3, a couple of tunes from Volume 1 of the Kill Bill soundtrack, and a shortened version of “Mahalo” — an instrumental from the first Devon Allman album. Credits are listed in the subtitles during each song.

Towards the end of the video is a bit of footage showing rather poor behavior by about 15 boys in one of my high school classes. I’d entered the classroom to find them shaking the water from plastic bottles into the air, covering themselves, the girls, and everything in the classroom (including posters and other projects they had been working on for the previous two weeks for the upcoming Open House). It was a mess and we spent an hour mopping things up and trying to save their project-work. The boys were pleading with me not to report them to the Thai teachers and I really thought the entire episode was hilarious (but you can’t let the students know that!). Anyway, I really debated with myself whether to include the footage. In the end, I decided to include it as it shows the type of thing I (and other teachers) have to contend with at this school on almost any given day….

The encoding process for the video went fairly quickly (there are a couple of glitches here and there, however) but the actual uploading took about four or five hours (I fell asleep). When it had finished processing (this was Monday morning), a popup appeared saying that the video could not be published as it exceeded the allowed length. What? Why couldn’t YouTube put a notice on the page at the very beginning? It took a few minutes to find the length limit (and how to remove it) in their FAQ’s; to remove the limit (15 minutes), all you have to do is verify your Google account. That took about 2 minutes. I re-uploaded while I slept late Monday night.

I hope you enjoy it….

If I ever have that many photos in a single week again, I think I will break it down into a few very short videos. I do like how this one came out and it’s a nice record of my favorite local festival, but it is difficult to commit 40 minutes in order to watch a bunch of photos. I recommend watching a single song’s worth at a time over the course of the week. You should finish just in time for next week’s entry…

Cheers!

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