What is it YOU find cringe worthy ..
A dangerous offer. At the risk of converting my scaffold into a soapbox (I LOVE discussing the meta aspects of video essays), I'll take these up...
In particular the sound editing in the first chapters. There are just some really clunky edits that make me wince. Words cut off, that sort of thing. This tightened up by Part 4 to the point where I was isolating each phrase fairly obsessively (to cut out the breaths in between) but in Part 1 the process was much more rushed because I was still holding myself to an end-of-the-month deadline which was fortunately dropped by the final parts.
Incidentally, there was a God-awful mix of the narration on the initial upload which thankfully I re-recorded. The re-recording has much better levels, but is a bit rushed at times (at times you can hear that I'm trying to catch up...I was listening to myself on headphones while watching the video to get it down quickly). I think by the end of the project I warmed much more to the idea of narration, and hopefully got better at it too.
That said, the Lynch-film chapter also has some poor matches between different recordings. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get the same sound quality when I replaced a few lines and you can really hear it at certain points. There are also various differences in the Vimeo uploads, most intentional but one of which just kills me - an accidentally deleted volume fade right before the final stretch of narration in the angel scene, so that the sound noticeably drops several decibels. A bummer as it is such a key moment. Fortunately it's ok in the YouTube video. Don't know what happened there.
Sort of nitpicky, but hey Lynch is an audio nut and I hate to think I'm doing any injustice to that aspect of the work (not that Lynch would enjoy a video analysis of his work under any circumstances!).
I felt I avoided the second pitfall pretty well, but the first chapters kind of fall into the first category. Partly because at that point I'm still accumulating evidence and observation to deal with later (that's the perhaps over-charitable interpretation) but also because the project sort of took shape as I did it and at that point I hadn't quite firmed up what information was necessary and what wasn't. The chapter that sags for me a bit in retrospect is the one covering ep. 1 - 3 (that also has the worst sound edits). Though I still like the juxtaposition of Hawk's speech with Laura in the Red Room & Jacoby at the grave (cribbed from my screen-cap tribute I did a few weeks before the video).
Not expositiony enough?
The videos were always created for an audience that was familiar with the show so if anything I'd say the reverse: too much exposition at times (especially early on), although not to the extent of making the plot legible to those who haven't seen the series. Humorously, CBS tried to take down the videos by claiming that they could be a substitution for actually watching the show (I think they were just trying to scramble and find fair-use loopholes though eventually they acquiesced). Eventually I shared the first few videos with my folks (neither had seen Twin Peaks) and pretty much had to offer an additional running commentary amidst frequent pauses to explain who was who & what was going on! Which is more or less as it should be, imo. Watch the show, then watch the videos.
So far I stand by all of my readings, but we'll see if 2016 makes me choke on any of them. Hell, at this point I'd take that over not getting to see 2016!
A couple places I noticed some shifting in my thinking, though, when all was said and done. When I began the series, I think my intent was to focus more on Laura's tragedy as the culmination of the series' narrative arc whereas by the time I made Part 4 the emphasis was much more on her triumph over Bob as the climax of all that momentum. In the opening chapter, the answer to the question "What black hole lies at its vortex" is presented as Laura breaking down in the classroom. I'd stick by that transition, BUT by the end of the videos I would posit something further beyond the black hole...hey, an Interstellar reference!.
Another area there was a more subtle shift is the mythology. As late as the "7 Facts" chapter I intended to tie Frost's Theosophical concepts in more deeply with Lynch's revamped mythology in FWWM (you can even hear this in the closing narration). However, by the time I got to the actual FWWM mythology chapter my thinking had shifted back more to my original inclination: to view the film as largely a rejection of the series mythology (ultimately, I tried to strike a balance between the two readings, both of which have some validity to them). I would attribute this partly to diving more deeply into the Hindu literature that shapes Lynch's outlook; it definitely does have significant overlap with 19th/20th century Western occultism but also significant differences. I think the key influence on my shift, though, may have been the realization that Lynch almost entirely disposes of the actual Lodge terminology in the movie (there is only one reference, linked explicitly to the finale, and he leaves out the "Black").
Anyway, not sure I would count those evolutions as flaws per se but then I'm the person who likes the fact that Twin Peaks itself was essentially made up on the fly so I may not be the best person to evaluate inconsistencies!
what do you think your biggest challenges are when making something like that?
For narrated video essays in general, it's learning what needs to be said and what doesn't. Maybe it's just not wanting too hear much of my own voice, but I find I'm much more economical and disciplined when reading back prose than when writing it (case in point - this comment!). I find the best way to deal with the challenge is to treat the narration and the images as partners in a dance switching who leads from number to number. Sometimes you bend the images to make a point, at other times this would be inappropriate. There's also the question of how long you allow clips to play out, and when you chose not to show anything at all (case in point: cutting to black rather than show Maddy's murder in this video essay, whereas I allowed it to play without interference in an earlier Lynch tribute - in different contexts, each of these was the correct decision). And of course all these intellectual decisions have to work aesthetically too - the flow of the presentation is arguably even more important than the content of the ideas; at the very least, they should go hand in hand.
And the problem is particularly acute whenever analyzing Lynch's work, especially but not only in video form (let's not forget how much he hates DVD commentaries, in which voices just drone on without any real respect for the images). In general this means not reducing what is visceral sensation into intellectual constructions - one has to attempt a more poetic and less severe mode of analysis: really, this is true of any art criticism in my opinion but it's especially true with someone like Lynch. Video provides advantages and disadvantages in this regard. On the one hand, the critic is not offering a pale imitation in words of what the screen depicts; instead he/she is following Godard's dictum that "the best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie." On the other hand, by directly dealing with the film itself the responsibility is amplified. This means video essays must (among other things) be hyper-sensitive the integrity and expressiveness of the original work while also manipulating it to make the viewer see it in a particular way. And also not to smother the image in verbal overload..
Before making these videos, I had a definite prejudice toward non-narrated over narrated video essays. Now I have a better sense, I hope, of the strengths and shortcomings of both approaches. I created another Lynch video last May which features no narration whatsoever, making all of its points ambiguously via montage rather than titles, overlaps, or voiceover. I go back and forth over which project I "prefer" personally. Ultimately I think both serve their purposes. Certainly as a work of advocacy for the series (and particularly the film) Journey Through Twin Peaks is able to reach far more viewers and convey its points more clearly by embracing narration. Its length also allowed me to experiment with many different approaches underneath the canopy of "narrated video essay" - it was a bit of crash course for me in that sense.
See what you made me do??? Sorry - I don't have the opportunity to dig into this stuff frequently enough and enjoy doing so! Hopefully not too boring for people to read.