Sunday, 18 March 2007

A Retrospective at 23? That's Kinda Dumb...

If I were the shameless sort, I'd use this particular blog entry to plug my musical altar-ego, Struwwelpeter. But that's not what this is about. There's a time and a place for Struwwelpeter, whose latest album 'Agnosticaust' is a veritable feast for the ears - but that time isn't now. And the place isn't here - maybe I'll start a seperate blog for Struwwelpeter (t-shirts along with other related merchandise and accesories available to buy online) but that's a project for another day.
*Cough* Buy my crappy records *Ahem*
On a completely different note, I thought I'd talk about two Struwwelpeter (add me on Myspace!) music videos I made to pass my BA and promote the records, which really are delightful. For some reason I felt compelled to do a variety of music videos for my final major project, rather than just one which probably would have sufficed. As it turned out I did six, handing in four, two of which were done with CGI animation.
We are all of us wiser with the gift of retrospect, and I can't help but feel that if I had just focused my energies on one video it could have been a far more impressive affair. That being said, I remain quite proud of those I ended up producing, for all of their flaws. It's when you can identify where you've gone before that teaches you the most - in these cases there's one issue that dwarfs all others: camerawork.
The coolest thing to me (and I'm sure to other newbs...noobs? whatever) about working in a CG environment is the ability to effortlessly change POVs, angles and perspective, more so even than with an actual camera. When you have a moving shot, like a pan or a pull-back, it accentuates the amount of effort that went into modelling the set and characters.
Having taken this into consideration, I made a fatal mistake as a consequence of rendering every shot out separately - there isn't a solitary moment in either video where the camera stays still. Not only is this piss-irritating, it detracts from the characters and subdues the impact of shots that would otherwise be quite impressive.
In the video below, 'Facial Mel', there are three zoom-outs that I was fairly proud of, but because the visuals that come before and after each one indulge in needless camera motion, the brevity of these three shots dissipates almost completely. They're still kinda cool, but they could have stood out so much more if I'd had the foresight to exercise some restraint elsewhere.

Struwwelpeter: "Facial Mel" Music Video

I feel I should mention at this point that when I refer to my own work in a flattering way I'm really applauding the capabilities of the software I use (Cinema 4D, if that's of any interest).
While 'Facial Mel' is perhaps more bright and bustling, 'Let Slip' is the more thought-through video of the two. For whatever symbolism that can be read into 'Facial Mel' (there was none consciously intended) there isn't a lot that happens. Robot wakes up, robot rolls along a walkway into a colloseum-type thing, robot gets nutted by a mirror and some windy shit goes down. In 'Let Slip' there are a couple of isolated scenes in which events occur, however minimal they may be. In one scene, the main rabbit is in a position to help another rabbit in need. Instead he walks away. I like that bit a lot because, as crude as it may be, it was the first time I'd created a personality for a character - the animation is minimal but you still get the idea that this rabbit is a bit of a self-serving dick.

Struwwelpeter: "Let Slip (Remix)" Music Video

The modelling is extremely basic and was originally going to be embellished until my tutor encourage me to stay with the more stylised, geometric look. I'm glad he did as this ended up resulting in the rabbit's face being the eventual album cover, an image that's sold more high-quality merchandise than any of my other designs.
I think if you were to take away the textures, the visuals for both videos would be on a par with the Dire Straits 1981 music video for 'Money For Nothing'. A goal of mine for this MA is to develop character designing skills beyond simply arranging shapes. Another is to refine the realism of their movement, because basically at the moment I'm just, as my current tutor fondly phrases it, 'moving shit about'.
With the creepy, trippy remix (courtesy of my favourite lesbian in the world, Alison Eire) of the song and the bleak, faux papier-mache visuals, this video got a lot of feedback from Solent University's more 'artsy' crowd when it was showcased. I don't really like to lend my work any kind of relevance or weight, it was just a case of me trying to create something cute and silly and winding up with something creepy and indulgent. I really wish I'd opted for a different ending rather than the final live-action shot of the rabbit, which frankly veers into pretentious territory. It may be with that self-awareness and desire to distance myself from the arthouse world that I've made this current film I'm working on so ridiculous. When I try to explain to people "Well, it's about a duck who's a zombie..." they look at me like I'm not only making it up on the spot, but also like I'm a little bit retarded. After a while it starts to dawn on me that they might be onto something...

1 comment:

Alison Eire said...

AWwww
You're MY favourite lesbian in the world too...