The Deadly Deaths

Nick's blog

This is my blog that follows the making of our of music videos. The blog posts related to my first stop-motion animated music video for the song "See The World" start from this post.

24th Mar 2007

Shooting tomorrow....

We're shooting the live shots in the white room at the local polytechnic tomorrow night. I'm still not entirely confident that my plan is going to work though. A lot of the gear the band uses (guitar and drums) is quite reflective, so I'm going to have to mask them off with dark material and tape before we shoot. Hopefully the lighting that is available in there already will be good enough to light a decent silhouette.

Other than that, I haven't really spent a lot of time on the video over the last week. I've made a few more of the animations, but I'm reluctant to post more of them right now (I need to leave a few surprises in the final video).

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8th Mar 2007

Live test shots....

I shot a few test shots today to see if the way I'm intending on shooting my masking shots is going to work. I didn't set up my test shots very well. I need to have a really well lit white wall (and floor) behind the band to make the band appear silhouetted. I don't have access to a white room to do my test shots so I made do with a fairly poorly lit grey/yellow wall.

The shots didn't quite come out as well as I had hoped. The main problem I'm having is that small details (such as the neck of the guitar, or the synthesizer stand) are getting lost when I scale the video down to such low resolutions (which of course is what you would expect). So after a bit of image manipulation I think I can get some of the detail back.

Anyway here is my first test shot. It's a very short clip and is made up of two shots combined (Tu playing guitar on the left, and then Tu playing synthesizer on the right).

http://www.vimeo.com/clip:150764

So, this is the "band silhouetted against some sort of low resolution large screen" look that I was trying to achieve. You might notice that on the left you can still see some very faint dots inside the silhouette. Thats because it wasn't shot very well and I didn't adjust the levels correctly for that shot (and it's just a test, so I can't be bothered going back and fixing it).

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7th Mar 2007

First few clips....

I've decided to begin by putting up a few of the smaller (and simpler) animations that I've started with. The animating that I'm doing for the rest of the video won't be a whole lot more complex than this though. I'm trying to keep the start of the video quite simple and raw.

http://www.vimeo.com/clip:150386

So basically what I've got is a 32 by 18 pixel animation scaled up to a higher resolution and masked with a dotted pattern. This is just a quick export of the project, so I haven't had time to play around with how I'm going to have the final dots look. But really that doesn't need to be decided until the end of the video.

I'm planning to build up the colours and animation during the video. I'm thinking that I'll start the video with just two colours and build from there.

I need to get some test shots finished over the next few days to make sure my idea for masking my animations with footage of the band is going to work. If it works it should look as though the band is silhouetted against some sort of low resolution large screen.

I've also put up the song "Bury It" on our music page so anyone that wants to listen to the song that I'm making the video for can download it.

Also, I thought that I should probably add a little note to let people know that this blog isn't really a "how to make a music video" type thing. I've never been to any television or film courses, and the only other video I've ever made is the stop-motion animated music video for our last single "See The World". So I'm learning as I go, and I'll probably make a bunch of mistakes. So feel free to offer any advice you may have.

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2nd Mar 2007

It's that time again....

....when I decide to publicly post on my blog that I'm starting another music video (I figure if I tell people about it then I'll have to finish it). I've decided not to make this another stop-motion animated video as I don't really have as much time to devote to this video as I did for the last one (and I'd like to try something new). It will be partially animated though.

I've been having trouble describing how I want to have the video look. It's partially Kraftwerk inspired - with quite low resolution animation (technically I'm making the video in 32 x 18 pixels) - and partially inspired by silhouettes. I guess it's going to be easier just to post a picture or video when I have one ready.

One of the reasons that I'm making the video in this style (low resolution and partially animated on my computer) is because of the small amount of gear that I have access to - so I've tried to figure out how I can make a video that I'll be happy with with the gear I have. I'm still going to have to try and find someone with a video camera and a white room to shoot the parts of the video that require the band in them.

So anyway, onto the small amount of progress I have made so far. I've started by storyboarding the video and editing the storyboards together on my computer.

My storyboards are quite rough. I seem to be the only one that can understand them. The storyboards on my computer look even worse than these hand drawn ones.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I'm making the music video for our next single "Bury It". The track isn't available through the website just yet, but it should be released some time in the next few weeks. Alternatively you could purchase our album from our music page (it's the first track on the album, and yes, we can deliver it internationally).

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5th Jan 2007

Video available for download....

The video is now available for download from the video page. This copy is of higher quality than the version shown below (720x404 at 24 frames per second).

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7th Nov 2006

The final video....

Well here it is. After 4 months of planning, building, shooting, re-shooting, masking and rendering the video is finally finished. We hope you like it.

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29th Oct 2006

Almost finished....

The video is almost finished now. Just a few more shots need their timing changed, and some colour correction needs to be done and then it's finished.

Anyway, I'd just like to thank some of the people who have helped me out while making this video (in order of appearance):

Kate Feisst - Helped me with the initial puppet prototype.
My Parents (and Nan) - Lent me tools and wood/board to make the sets with.
Dawn Tuffery - Advice on stop-motion animation.
Steve West - Lent me a web camera (for monitoring the movement in my shots).
Heath Lewis - Lent me his digital camera to shoot the video on, and created the star backgrounds for the planet shots.
Cherie Sturkenboom - Lent me a tripod, some tools, and built the table prop for the male character's set.
Adam Fulton - Joined me for a day of shooting.
Tuhua Mutu - Helped build the planet set.
Greg Pearson - Helped build the planet set, and edit the video.

I think that is everyone.

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19th Oct 2006

Planet compositing....

I'm still working on all the planet shots. The masking has been time consuming because of the number of trees in the shot, and the wire television tower.

Anyway, I thought that I'd post some pictures of the compositing that I have been slowly working my way through.

Here is a one of the shots that I've been working on. This is the shot before any processing has been applied. The black background areas of this shot are then masked out.

And this is the background image that will be inserted behind the original (once the black areas of the picture have been masked out).

And this is the final image.

The planet shot above was quite easy to work with as the background of the original image was quite dark already and there weren't so many trees in the shot.

Shots such as this one have been slightly more time consuming however. The files are huge (3456 x 2304 pixels), and the background file is even bigger (it has 6 or 7 layers and the star layer is 6000 x 6000 pixels), so my laptop has been quite hot. Luckily the RAM was upgraded when I got it (thanks Serato) otherwise I'd say this process would have taken even longer.

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18th Oct 2006

Planet shot....

I tried a few different methods of shooting and creating backgrounds for my planet shots, but I wasn't happy with the look of any of them. So I sent the files off to my friend (and graphic designer) Heath to see if he had any ideas.

And this is the result. He managed to create the backgrounds for all 14 shots today. The stars are on a separate layer to the planet and the haze/gradient around the planet, and they will rotate slightly during the shot to give some subtle movement.

I've finally finished all my shooting now, so its onto masking the remaining planet shots, and then rendering them. The masking is taking me a lot longer then I thought it would.

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16th Oct 2006

A better pan shot....

Today I reshot one of the first shots I posted in my blog from the first day of shooting. I was happy with this shot at the time, but after shooting a similar shot in the female characters house at 24 frames per second I decided that this shot needed to be redone.

As you can see, it looks so much better than the original 12 frame per second shot. I think this shot took about 160 pictures to shoot.

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