I’ll explain this more in a separate post. Right now I’ll just say that I dropped $80 in neon balloons on this video, so the least you can do is watch it. If you click through to YouTube, you can choose to view it in glorious hi-rez. While you’re there, hit thumbs up and leave a pithy comment. Your support is greatly, hugely appreciated.
Archive for the Video Category
In much the same manner as the DD video for Absinthe Cola, the new video (below) was a mostly unplanned, quick shoot using sets inside The ScareHouse. I’m still amazed how well their sets show up on video. They’re so beautiful that it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, really, except I’m also one of the fish in this analogy.
The role of the shooter was played by Steve Friedrick, who co-produced and co-directed the video with me. He also handled all the editing and post-production, which is great because I would have gone insane looking at myself so much. I also would have made it a lot blurrier and layered a lot more effects over my face. In fact, the extent of my contribution to post-production, when Steve was showing me draft edits, was to tell him to use more effects and to dirty it up more. The original footage (shot with my Canon T2i) was painfully crisp and clear. You could count the whiskers on my chin. I don’t know how any actor can survive the scrutiny of the HD camera lens these days. I’ve been noticing more lately how on-screen talent (from newscasters to dramatic performers) use makeup and other techniques to hide the natural process of aging. Some appear to have a “no extreme close-ups” written right into their contract. Anyway, while I’m not afraid of revealing any “age lines,” I’m still a little weirded out by seeing my face so clearly. Especially when I’m performing a caricature of evil incarnate.
I knew that I could not successfully embody said evil if I just played it straight (whatever “straight evil” means). So here you get me channelling Tom Waits, which, either because I’m not being very successful or because I’m not actually Mr. Waits, ends up looking unique enough for a music video. Steve brought the goggles and they are roughly half the character. That wicked smile was quite painful to hold and my jaw hurt at the end of each take. The twitchy dance technique also burned quite a few calories and I was pretty well wiped after a couple takes. Such is the price we must pay for our art.
I have a good deal of video footage from our work at The ScareHouse this year. Live stuff and other bits we shot specifically for music videos. I was sifting through it all and planning on cranking out a quick live video, but decided to do more to it. The live footage by itself is interesting, but does not exactly hold one’s attention for the several minutes a song lasts. So I started adding graphics and effects, learning new software all the while, and before long realized that it was going to be a longer endeavor than I initially planned.
That’s where the alien comes into play. A single, focused idea that gives you a little taste of the Delirium Dog live thing we were doing married with some semi-hot alien-dancing action. Ursula has always wanted to put on a puppet show so I brought the alien along for her to play with when she was not singing or pressing buttons. It was her idea to add the lights to his (or her?) arms, which really makes it. We’ve talked about doing our whole act as a puppet show. It could happen. Until then, you’ve got this as a teaser.
That title could apply to anything, but right now I’m thinking about both the album I’ve been working on for several months and the video project I started with Kris Williams (see previous post) a couple weeks ago.
We’re still pressing forward with a video about the tornado victims in the South and Kris got a nice group of reality tv stars to provide spots. Her fans also sent in an impressive set of photos. I’ve made a draft for folks to approve…and now we wait for everyone to sign off on it, or not. Yes, modern video technology and the interwebs are great for speedily assembling multimedia content. But not all aspects of our society have caught up. The legal system, for one, can especially slow things down. Some day, there will be a system for rapid approval of video content that respects everyone’s image and intellectual property. That day is not yet upon us.
Then there’s my album, which is taking longer for entirely different reasons. The main reason being that all the technology in the world cannot replace the need to put in a lot of time to make a song worthy of publication. It’s all about attention to detail, and there’s only one of me here to apply that attention. But I’m almost there! I just saved 6 of the 11 songs in their final form prior to being mastered. It sounds and feels like I’m nearly done, but once I save the remaining 5 songs I still need to check them against each other to be sure that they all sound like they belong together.
Then, the final final step for the album is taking the songs into the studio for mastering. Last time I did this part by myself and it nearly killed me. They say nobody should master what they have mixed, let alone what they have composed and recorded themselves. I do it all the time, but mainly for one-off tracks. Mastering a whole album is a different animal and I’m happy to have the fine folks at Mobtown Studios take care of that part for me. Doing it myself took me several weeks because I was inexperienced at it and lacked anything remotely like objectivity required to do it. I was unable to truly hear the music anymore. And I was getting incredibly sick of it. I’m not yet tired of the current set of songs and I’m hoping to keep things that way.
And then there’s the artwork, which we’ll also need to get cranking on soon.
Both these projects are requiring more time and perseverance than I initially anticipated. But that seems to be the case with most things worth doing.
I spent the past weekend in NYC and parts of NJ where a high school friend of mine hosted me and another high school friend visiting from the West coast. We reconnected, toured around Ellis Island (thought provoking) the Statue of Liberty (as moving as I expected) and parts of Greenwich Village and Little Italy (intoxicating as always).
I had barely set foot in midtown, right off the bus, when another high school friend (or grade school if you must know) phoned me. He’s the one who is creative director for The Scarehouse and he sez he’s heading out of town and needs someone to handle a video job. I say oh sure, aside from the fact that I’m currently in NYC, I can take it on.
The job is helping out Ghost Hunter Kris Williams with an awareness/fundraising video about the devastating weather that just rolled through the South. She was disturbed by the news being dominated by a particular royal wedding across the sea and not so much about the second largest natural disaster in US history. So she’s having her Facebook fans who live near the wreckage send in footage and asking her reality show colleagues to send in videos of themselves speaking from the heart about how people who have had their lives torn asunder could use your help.
Throughout the weekend, Kris forwarded photos and video content to me and I would opine back to her about how or if we could use the material. All the while, thanks to them smart phones, I was still managing to be a tourist.
This confluence of events resulted in a weekend where I could enjoy the company of good friends, enjoy beautiful weather and good food in NYC, and see sights like this:
While getting emails of tornado damage in Alabama that looks like this:
And feeling very lucky for my life and grateful I can do something, however small, to help.
You can also help by heading here (Red Cross) and giving what you can.
And you can stay right where you are at this very moment and be grateful for what you have.
When I say that your attention is greatly appreciated, I mean it. With the digital world creating a critical crisis of attention, the attention of a single human brain has become a truly precious commodity.
This makes being an artist and musician extremely difficult, and blogging seem especially futile. How can you get anyone to focus on your work for even a moment, let alone have the sort of deep, meaningful impact all artists wish to have? Most of the time all you can do is keep putting your work out there knowing that someone, somewhere, will direct their precious attention your way and like what they see or hear.
I know I’m lucky to have the small outlet that I do–one where I know that a certain number of people will hear my music when it is released. That definitely keeps pushing me along, but ultimately I make music because I have to. Because I would go truly insane if I did not.
The fact that there is an audience paying attention is a huge plus, however, so know this: If you pause to absorb anything I create, I am in your debt. I know you are busy, and the competition for your eyeballs and fierce and limitless. If you are reading this, you are my friend.
And remember: in the information economy, your attention is an extremely valuable commodity to both to yourself and others. Use it wisely!
Of course, I’m so busy with the new album that when I saw a tweet from They Might Be Giants about a 24-hour video challenge I…just decided to jump on it. I can’t explain why, but it’s often when I’m working hard on one thing–usually to the extent that I can’t imagine finding time for anything else–that I end up jumping into another mini-project just for the hell of it. I think it has to do with having my creative juices flowing, all the neurons firing, ideas flying all over the place, all while having to work in a very focused way on a particular thing. If I’m ever to finish anything, I need have some sustained focus. And yet it is at these very times that my mind is most active and looking for things to do.
So it was when I spotted this call that looked too good to pass up:
CHALLENGE: Make a video for TMBGs song Omaha (Sokol Auditorium) from Venue Songs before Nebraska’s statehood birthday celebration ends tomorrow. Creativity and style count.
Prizes included T-shirts and free TMBG tix. (Listening to my music, you might not make me out to be big TMBG fan, but I have been for a long time. I’ve seen them many times. What can I say? I have eclectic tastes.)
There is something freeing about only having 24-hours, which in my case turned out to be about four, plus time to render, save, and upload which resulted in very little sleep that night. You know you won’t have time to make it “perfect” (nothing ever is) so you just do what you can get away with in the time you have.
So I only had two hours of sleep, but it was worth it. Not just because I won two TMBG tickets for my efforts, but because I made something that I would not have otherwise. And I got to be part of a small, short-lived, online community of creative fans who shared and commented on each others’ work just for the sake of doing it. Truly, this is the internet at it’s best.
I didn’t win top honors with my video, but I did get recognized as “Most Informativeiest”, got the free tickets, and had something to share with friends around the social mediasphere. Not a bad evening’s digression, I think.
Enjoy: (Production details below…)
The video was made entirely in Apple Motion, a program like After Effects that lets you do all sorts of groovy things with video. I made ample use of the “Bad TV” effect that comes with Motion to get that static-y look. I downloaded and manipulated images from the Sokol Omaha website and elsewhere using Pixelmator. Pixelmator is my excuse for putting off buying Photoshop for my machine at home. About 80-90% of the times I use Photoshop, Pixelmator would have done the job just as well and costs a teeny fraction of what Adobe is asking. I used Pixelmator to make the cutouts of the chandelier, falcon, Ford falcon, etc., saved them in PS format, and imported the images into Motion with their layers so I could use them with their transparent backgrounds.
The Sokol site is fairly amusing if you give it a close read. I wanted to keep pulling quotes from the site and animate them, but the song is just over a minute long so there were only so many ideas I could cram in there.
Twas a time not very long ago when if someone posted a song of yours on the web without your consent it was considered a violation of your property. Now, it’s flattering. Whatever the legality of it, I see the unauthorized videos below as nothing but a good thing. So long as it’s fan-motivated, and not commercial (very important!), it’s always fun to see what happens to a song once it’s out there.
This benefits me in many ways. First of all, one person liked my work enough to make a video of it (however minimal) and upload it to YouTube. That’s cool in and of itself. Second, they’ve introduced the song to a few hundred and eventually a few thousand folks that would not have seen it otherwise. It helps greatly that the posters properly attribute my work so any interested party can find it.
Then there’s an even bigger favor they’re doing me. Many people use YouTube to listen to music, so having music on there is advantageous. However, when I release an “official” DD video, I feel like I would need to do something more than just show a static image. What sort of self-respecting multimedia artist could get away with that? I do plan on releasing a number of videos and some will be more minimal than others, but I will take the opportunity to show a little more than a slideshow. These good-hearted fans have taken the burden off of me by getting the music out there while I can bide my time doing something more fancy. I probably won’t release a video for that song anyway, since it was already prominently featured in a trailer for the Scarehouse.
So what’s not to like? So long as it’s not being used for any money-making venture, I don’t see any downside.