The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 28 September 2009

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out


We’ve switched to energy saving lightbulbs, the ones with fluorescent tubes. Should the planet turn out to have been saved in the next hundred years, you can hold me personally responsible. It was me, I did my bit, my conscience is not merely clear, it’s gleaming with self-satisfaction.

The exciting thing about these lightbulbs, apart from the fact that it means that the Amazon basin won’t be chopped down by an area the size of Belgium in order to provide stilts for those poor Micronesian guys living on Pacific Atolls, is that they take about two seconds to switch on.

It’s a moment of mystery and suspense. Darkness. Darkness. And then light. Two seconds of wondering, ‘Will the light come on? Has something broken? Did I actually press the light switch properly?’ followed by reassurance and illumination.

And then you can switch the light on and off and pretend that you’re in a trailer for EastEnders. Because that’s the subject of today’s rant.

Trailers over-using the ‘fade-to-black’.

I can’t remember where it was first done. ‘The Phantom Menace’ springs to mind. But it’s just so cheap and corny; whatever footage you have to hand, a few oblique statements, and fade to black. And fade back, another one or two seconds of someone looking apprehensive, then fade to black. With a DOOF! DOOF! sound effect each time the lights go out.

I’m not saying it can’t be done well, but it’s been done to death. It’s hard to watch, it’s prick-teasing, and It’s irritating – because it’s clearly designed to disguise a lack of genuine dramatic footage. Let’s face it, you could make Sesame Street look dramatic by going; Elmo looking pensive DOOF! Fade to black. Bert looking surprised. DOOF! Fade to black. Big Bird’s eyes widening. DOOF! Fade to black.

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