The Art of the 4-Hour Video

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.

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