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.

15th Apr 2007

Bury It music video released!

I spent an hour this morning at the local polytechnic making sure that the video was all ready to be broadcast. Mainly just checking that the colours and audio levels were alright.

So, yeah, here it is. I hope you like it.

Also, I'd like to say a quick thanks to the few people who helped us out with the video: Adam Fulton, Cherie Sturkenboom, Paula Allen and Dawn Tuffery. Cheers!

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10th Apr 2007

So so close....

Well, those border problems took me a few days to fix over the weekend. Fixing them has definitely been the most tedious part of making this video so far.

I spent all of today redoing the animations for the final chorus in the song. A day or two ago I tried fixing up the previous animations, but they still didn't feel right and so I decided to start from scratch today. The problem was that the video felt like it reached its climax in the solo, whereas I intended to have it reach its climax in the final chorus. Anyway, I'm a lot happier with the new animations - they look so much better.

So, now I just have to fix up a few tiny problems with the video - I think there are only three clips left to tweak - and then I'm done. Well, almost done.

The last thing left to do before I release it is to check (and adjust) the colours on a decent set of monitors. I don't really know how to do this, so I have a friend who is going to help me out at the start of next week at the local polytechnic. So it should be finished some time next week. Yay!

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5th Apr 2007

First problems....

So, today I had my first problems with the video. It is something I'd noticed a few days ago, but didn't realise quite how annoying a problem it was going to be. Today I rendered some of the video out at broadcast quality and checked it out on our television. Unfortunately the results weren't quite what I was expecting. Apparently the way that I was resizing my images to 32 x 18 pixels ended up leaving a dark border around the images that shows up quite well on my television.

You should be able to see the outline in this still taken from the video (you may have to look at the screen on an angle or adjust your brightness/contrast if you can't see it). This is going to be really time consuming to fix, as this part of the processing seems to have taken the longest (and there are around 80 shots to process).

Anyway, enough about that. On a more positive note, I have now finished most of the video. I have all of the shots animated and edited together. I've also fixed up half of the animations that I'm not happy with. I think I only have the animations in the last chorus to fix and then that side of it is done. So the video shouldn't be too far away now.

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3rd Apr 2007

Sixteen seconds....

I've almost finished the basic animation for the video now. I only have sixteen seconds of footage remaining to process. I'm not really happy with a few of the background animations that I've produced, so I've got a bunch of them to redo as well.

I've been finding it quite hard to get this video done. I guess it is all coming together really quickly (compared with the last one), but I'm getting frustrated sitting at my computer for such long periods of time working on it. That and the fact that I'm constantly listening to small loops of the song. Today I tried listening to more relaxing music while I animated which seemed to help a little.

Oh yeah, I realised today that I'd forgotten to mention that when we were shooting the live footage to use as masks we covered all of our gear in matte black material. This was to stop the white room reflecting off the surfaces of the cymbals, cymbal stands, drums and guitar. It took me half the day to cover everything, but it looked really cool.

Anyway, I thought I'd put up a short clip that I was working on last night. The patterns in the second part of it look quite random. This clip is from later in the song where the video starts to get more colourful.

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29th Mar 2007

More dots....

Well, I've been working on the video non-stop for the past few days and I've made quite a lot of progress. I'm hoping to have most of it finished within the next few weeks.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a post detailing the process that I'm having to go through for every shot right now. This might be obvious to a lot of people who work with video (or I'm doing it the hard way), but those who don't may find it interesting.

First I start with the unedited raw footage that I shot on the mini DV camera. Basically I just frame the shot how I want it to look inside a 320 by 180 pixel frame (so I have to scale and position it). The shot I'm using as an example is one of Bevan (our drummer) during the chorus of the song.

Next I adjust the levels to get a nice black/white contrast and desaturate the image. I also mask off any bits that I don't want in the shot (some shots have overhead lights in shot). I then export this as a sequence of images so that I can process them in my image manipulation software.

The images are then processed to give them a thin grey outline. The reason for this is that some of the thinner objects in the scene sometimes disappear when I shrink the images down to 32 by 18 pixels (such as drum sticks and cymbal stands). So giving them a thin outline helps them show up without losing too much definition.

I then shrink the images down to 32 by 18 pixels (this one is actually a 32 by 18 pixel file scaled up to 408 x 230 so that you can view it on the blog) and create a video out of the sequence.

The video is then lined up with the audio for the shot and trimmed to the correct length of the shot. I have all the positions and lengths of shots planned out already on my storyboards.

Next I need to create a background animation for the shot. These are drawn in 32 by 18 pixels using image software and then sequenced in time with the music in the shot.

Then I use the 32 by 18 pixel video as a mask for the animation sequence.

I then scale this up to the resolution of my dot mask (the working copy I'm using is 640 by 360 pixels) and use the dot mask as a mask for the combined video and animation. Here is a picture of the dot mask in case you're wondering what I'm talking about.

And here is the final clip:

Hmm, just looking at all the steps it takes for each shot makes me feel tired.

I've spent most of today working on the solo shot for the video. Its not quite finished yet, but here is a sneak peak at the masking layer I've edited together for the shot.

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27th Mar 2007

Finished shooting....

The shooting of the live shots for the music video went fairly smoothly on Sunday night. We'd like to thank Cherie and Adam for helping out with the shooting, and to Paula for lending us a camera.

We ended up using a mini DV camera and one or two of the lights in the white room to light the back wall. I'll put up some stills from the shoot when I get some more time.

Today I managed to import and separate all the footage. There only ended up being around 15 minutes of footage. Luckily I get to shrink that down in resolution, because I don't have a lot of hard disk space left.

Anyway, I'm currently trying to process a bunch of the shots - which means my computer justs sits here rendering for ages. So I thought I'd post a quick video of Bevan (our drummer) doing a backspin on Sunday night.

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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).

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.

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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