Dysphoria


Video: Bakemonogatari, Kizumonogatari, Vision of Escaflowne, Escaflowne (movie), Revolutionary Girl Utena (movie), Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Devil May Cry (anime), Fullmetal Alchemist, Noragami, Steins;Gate, Blue Exorcist, Guilty Crown, K (TV), Death Note, Death Parade, Akira (movie), Demon Slayer, KARAS, Children of the Sea, Dorohedoro, Psycho Pass, Nisemonogatari, Your Name, Paprika, Perfect Blue, Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, Weathering With You, 5 Centimeters per Second, Charlotte, Attack on Titan, Black Clover, Bleach, Erased, Darwin's Game, Deadman Wonderland, Drifters, Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, Free!, Sunday Without God, Blood Blockade Battlefront, My Hero Academia, Owari no Seraph, Chivalry of a Failed Knight, Re: Zero, Rozen Maiden, Strike The Blood Third, Sword Art Online, The Rising of the Shield Hero, Macross Frontier
Audio: JT BruceHypnic Jerk
Premiere Date: 2020
Status: No Download Links
Genre(s): Horror, Other, Artistic
Cons/Awards: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2020 PRO Contest: won “Best Technical”, finalist in “Artistic”; Agamacon 2021 – Honorable mention “Endless Nightmare”
Outside Links: .org
Categories: Music Videos, Featured Videos, Award Winning


Dysphoria AKA Skeptic’s Hypothesis AKA Multicultural Panic Attack

Started: 12 dec 2019
Finished: 11 aug 2020
Work time: 47hr 58min in premiere
26hr 16min After Effects

TEXT / TRANSLATION INFO
0:02 – 0:42
[Lyrics – English]
The average person spends 22 years of their life asleep. One third of your life will be wasted. The desire to dream is primordial. The exploration of dreams in search of answers we cannot otherwise obtain is a tempting solution to things we’d rather not deal with. Sometimes, this desire transforms dreaming into a vehicle that attempts to displace the mediocre existence of our ordinary world. At first, it is a plunge into hyper reality. A world more real than the real itself. One so entrancing in can become an addiction with confusing side effects.

0:53 – 0:57
[Spanish]
No / Yes

1:01 – 1:02
[English]
Escapism

1:08 – 1:09
[Korean]
Possibilities

1:11 – 1:12
[English]
Denied

1:13 – 1:14
[Japanese] Envy
[Chinese] Regression

1:15 – 1:20
[French] No / Yes
[Hindi] Yes

1:21 – 1:23
[Japanese / English]
Depersonalization

1:21 – 1:24
[Japanese]
(I don’t have an exact translation for this. It’s something like “stop now, you can’t go back.” I did not do this text, it is a scene from the Utena movie.)

1:25 – 1:30
[Lyrics – English]
You cannot sleep. You’re kept awake at night by unseen forces and the addiction to dream sinks its teeth into your mind.
[English: “Tracking” from old VCR overlay indicating calibration adjustment so playblack head is properly aligned with the tape signal.]

1:41
[English]
Ego Death

1:45
[Russian]
Doubt

1:47
[Japanese]
(Another vague translation. Something like “stop now, you will die.”)

1:50 – 1:55
[Several different languages]
Crisis

1:56 – 1:58
[Several different languages]
Help

2:01 – 2:05
[Lyrics – English / American Sign Language]
I’ll tell you what dying is. Dying is what happens when you can no longer dream.

2:07 – 2:13
[Lyrics – English]
Now the dream state has become your primary mode of existence and the reality you left behind is only a hazy memory.

2:26
[English]
Splice here
Picture
color
No reel
Sound
Ratio
Picture

2:36 – end
[Lyrics – English]
As you lie awake and alone with the sheets stuck to cold sweat dripping from your body, you can’t help but form a skeptics hypothesis. It becomes impossible to tell when you are dreaming and
Are you awake?

General Comments
I started out wanting to make a weird/creepy glitch video. But as I started making it it became something way more personal.

The part where I over-explain everything

I joined AWA PRO in 2019 with a video that was completely forgettable (Exposure). I came away from that feeling very weirdly defensive of my editing skills so I set out to make something to prove I could edit. That was the AMV Esoterra, which was largely a shallow, showy piece. Aside from the technicals, it’s also just a type of video I don’t generally make because nostalgia/vibe things don’t interest me much.

While that video was coming along I got the urge to do something edgy, and I have always wanted to do text and glitch effects in a video. I’ve had a love affair with JT Bruce’s “Hypnic Jerk” for several years so worked on cutting it down to something usable (the track is ~10 minutes long). Once that was done I set it aside to make after Esoterra was done, to make sure I finished it before the pro deadline. I didn’t intend to finish Dysphoria for PRO, but I figured if I finished it in time (a big IF) I would submit it in addition to Esoterra.

Once I started on Dysphoria, the time went by so quick. I wanted something that would separate the viewer from reality and just focusing on the song would have been enough. But I got this idea to attach it to something real. And eventually decided to roll with it. It’s weird, because when you look at these 2 videos (Esoterra and Dysphoria) You’d probably think Dysphoria was the gimmicky one, but it’s much closer to my brain than Esoterra is.

I’m not super open about it, but I’m transgender. I also have clinical/major Depression. I wanted Dysphoria to be about the fight you have in your head with yourself on whether or not you want to change, or if what you’re dreaming is really something you want.

During my time in the Navy (2009 – 2012) I was constantly fighting with myself on what I wanted more– transition or to stay in the navy? DADT was repealed shortly after I enlisted, but trans people were still largely unknown and had to be closeted. This video helped me work through some of that, I think. I had a pretty good idea I was trans when I joined, but I wasn’t sure until after boot camp. And once I went on my first deployment things sort of snowballed, and I was constantly weighing the pros and cons of staying in or getting out to transition (Obama’s trans inclusion thing didn’t happen to shortly after I was discharged).

I wanted this video to be relatable to anyone imagining what a mental crisis was like. It was very important to me that it was still “gender dysphoria” but it didn’t beat you over the head with it. I wanted it to be subtle. Something that maybe trans people would get but cis people could still appreciate without feeling like the vid has a specific message. Gender dysphoria can be fairly insiduous. I don’t think many people realize how much it can affect things. It is also easily attributable to other factors, so can be very hard to identify as an issue if you aren’t already 100% sure you’re trans.
I guess this video is just relaying feelings, and the general steps/phases/stages you try to work through during a mental crisis or psychological break.

For the text, I watched a lot of AMVs with text in them and I learned that text seemed to work better when you weren’t concerned with reading it. So I made the text hard to read and I used it more as an artistic framing device. Any time the character was feeling the text, I tried to put the text on the character, especially over their face. There are two “worlds” in this vid, one being reality (which is almost always starring a female character), and one being the dream/fantasy. Reality is dim, has washed out colors and hard to read text. Fantasy has easier to read text but it’s usually in another language. It’s also way more raw and emotional, and not the lyrics of the song/track.

And, as especially the case for the first minute, I started out the text being fairly legible but then got more screwed up and harder to read as time progressed. Because in the beginning you think you’ve got things figured out, but the more you think about stuff, the harder it becomes to decide, and the more frustrated you get. Especially true for ~0:28 – 0:34ish, screwing with the text in such a way to be artistic but also to purposefully frustrate you that you cannot read it.

Which introduced an ongoing problem into my video: How do you make things specifically frustrating (especially the later glitches) without it being so frustrating that the video is no longer “good”? That was an ongoing conversation I had with at least 3 different beta testers. Much more about the glitches than the text, because I had very specific visions for the text. In the end, I think I figured it out okay so there is a good balance between “messy” and “not done well”. But that took several tries to get right.

People suffering with mental crises generally feel alone. So I wanted the characters in reality to be relatable but have a barrier between them and the viewer. That being the text, blurs, VHS overlays, etc. I especially tried to pick scenes where the real characters were not looking right at you.

Dream world is brighter, vibrant, hopeful. The characters you see yourself as (the boys) are looking at you, and they’re for the most part cool, badass characters.

The glitches were predominantly hand-made using the very scenes they’re on top of. I did have some presets, but I’d say 80% – 90% of glitches were made from scratch. The presets mostly got used during the elevator scene around 2:13 – 2:17and 2:31 – 2:35. The only other help I had making this were VHS overlays which got peppered in throughout the video.

Despite Esoterra taking more time, I’d consider Dysphoria to be much more technical and difficult to edit. In Esoterra I was playing with, and learning about, flow, composition, and overlays. The time it took to effectively learn and apply those things was immediately used in Dysphoria which surprisingly has a lot of the same core concepts, just utilized differently. Despite them being nearly ideological opposites, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make Dysphoria as good as it is without having the experience of making Esoterra first.

Scene selection was incredibly intentional for every single part, and caused a lot of headache at times due to not finding what I wanted.
Because my specific theme was gender dysphoria (and even more specifically, female to male) girls only show up at specific times:

– the real world
– the very first time the character goes into the dream world “at first it is a plunge into hyper reality”
– when the character is actively fighting with themself (the yes / no sections)
– after an implied suicide attempt at 1:32, when dream/fantasy start become one.

In the “Yes / no” parts of the video, the boy is always yes, and the girl is always no. That is specific to gender dysphoria, and to FTMs. When you visualize yourself? Is it as a girl or a boy? It was always a boy. But some trans people (myself included) will go through phases where they dream as their real-world (non-transitioned) self. For me, I went through a long period of denial, so would try to force being ok with myself, even though it brought me pain.

So all the scenes with girls in them are painful. The scenes of boys start out cool and confident, but then become trapped and locked away. They get angry and kill the girl around 1:20, which then results in the mental breakdown that follows. The suicide attempt, the male self saving the female self, the overall anger and confusion, and the “crisis” part of the video. The crisis is: Now you know you have to do something. Will you finally accept this part of yourself? Will you finally transition? The overlays at 1:53 signify the decision. Glass breaking, hands parting, and scissors cutting an umbilical cord.

The next section is “Help”. The character finally recognizes that they need help, because they are finally accepting that there is a problem. But just because you recognize there’s a problem doesn’t mean you’re any good at solving it. Therein goes the brief period of survival in the dream with the super clear picture of the man saving the woman. It works in two ways, one at surface gender dysphoria level because it’s a dude being cool, the secondary being that the masculine side is saving the feminine side. “Hey. You don’t have to die. You’re still a part of me. You might be transitioning to male but that doesn’t mean my feminine side disappears.”

The elevator section of the video was one of the first sections I edited, and so it is predominantly just a glitch fest as a way to transition from living in escapism to getting back to reality. It ends at the scene of the girl in bed. For me this symbolizes depression more than anything else. You know you need help, you are constantly thinking about how to get it, but sometimes you just can’t fucking do anything. So we have that scene and then shinji (the boy) appears as a reflection beneath.
The video ends with shinji waking up in the hospital and the question “Are you awake?” It’s a throwback to the original video’s premise of a skeptic’s hypothesis… Can never know if you’re dreaming or not. But also a sort of ambiguous ending of never knowing if the character got the help they needed or not. Are they still living in their dream of being a boy? Or did they actually transition and this is reality now?

¯_(ツ)_/¯

So anyway that’s my over-explanation of this video. I put it off for so long, partly because I don’t like revealing this part of myself, and partly because I don’t think it’s right to force my interpretation/message on anyone.
But overall decided the pros in putting this essay out there outweighed the cons.

Since I finished this video in August 2019, released it publicly in December, and only now just wrote this explanation at the end of February the following year, I forgot a lot of things maybe I wanted to touch on in between that time.
But this is long enough as it is. If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up I guess. Contact info in my profile.

Some things I want to point out just because
As mentioned previously, all scene selection was super intentional. But a lot of it goes by so fast and seems kind of random so here’s some things I want to bring attention to lol.

0:02 – there’s an overlay here of more rain (dropping on the camera) and also some faint glowing eyes. I wanted to bring some paranoia into this video but this is the only part that panned out.

Beginning to 0:21 – Your Name was amazing to work with because it had the perfect amount of scenes of girls looking at boys and being sad about it. This establishes the character’s life up to this point as being unhappy with who she is. The scene of her staring in the mirror at the boy and then crying really sets up the whole gender dysphoria framing device without being obvious about it.

0:24 – anthy is a fragmented, bare, vulnerable individual with a trapped and tortured boy prince inside :)

1:20 – metaphor for self injury. Also foreshadowing of some other chest-based scenes.
1:23 – the result of the previous scene. This was the best anime representation I could find for ftm chest surgery. Obviously the scar is all wrong but it was the only chest scar scene I could find that looked kind of believable for what I was going for.

1:24 – 1:32 I synced the tracking dot to the beat lol. Also the text on the bed moves when she lays down on it.

1:57 – 1:59 is all scenes with barriers because the characters are all trapped. The last scene is a first person shot of looking down at boobs, which in context of all the suffering scenes leaning up to it are meant to imply that boobs are bad. Character has massive chest-related dysphoria. It’s a quick callback to the other 2 chest scenes.

2:01 – 2:05 is dilandau!! From Vision of Escaflowne. I won’t explain the scene because it’s a huge spoiler but if you know the anime/character you’ll know why I used it here. :)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Many thanks to my beta testers and our discussions about the intricacies of glitches:
Ash, Dr. Derpface, TheLazyDaze

Thank you to Synaethesia for helping me with the VHS overlays.

Thank you to Kriegher for the help with including Hindi as a language.

I also must mention ProstrateConstantly/ZaneWins, whose DESTRUCT vid and making of vid heavily inspired me to make my own glitch vid. And to CrackTheSky’s blog for mentioning DESTRUCT, as I otherwise never would’ve seen it.
D E S T R U C T: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=878jSaMBtxw
Making of DESTRUCT:
CTS’s blog: https://crakthesky.wordpress.com/

Original track of JT Bruce – Hypnic Jerk:
https://www.jamendo.com/track/24044/hypnic-jerk?language=en
https://open.spotify.com/track/0e3aRWcOl7XqYNWP1ss5AO

Note: the (uncredited) live action footage is a recording of myself.