The Demographic: The Headliner video

Now that The Demographic’s new video for “The Headliner” is finally done, I’ll briefly review some of the technical aspects of the production. I’ve had this project floating around unfinished in the background of my to-do lists since… oh Christ, May, I think? So though I am extremely proud of it, I’m also quite prepared to archive it and stop thinking about it for forever.

This is by far the most ambitious video project we’ve undertaken (not to say the previous two videos weren’t serious undertakings: “Reducer” was a daunting set-making and tiring shooting challenge, and “This Broken Place” was a massive organizing/film-capturing/editing project). “The Headliner” is a pretty successful (well, I think) marriage of my commercial skills with one of my personal projects, two worlds that don’t often rub shoulders. Anyway, I figured I’d post some junk.

First, here’s the video: (or the Vimeo link)

This After Effects screencap shows a clip from the foundation of the video, Sturgis and I playing in the loft over my garage (flammably decorated with Daily Hampshire Gazettes and New York Timeses). We shot multiple, multiple angles and takes (with my Canon HV30) and then I chucked most of ‘em out. I pioneered some innovative camera techniques involving string which could revolutionize the filmmaking industry, if only I would reveal them. Ho-ho. Please note my grandfather’s Encore guitar – a Japanese piece of junk that sounds terrible but looks super-cool.

An AE screengrab from the original bridge section idea, which was supposed to be boring, but proved to be so boring we ended up chucking it in favor of the time-lapse clip of us at The Roost. Note Frownie Brownie t-shirt.

Back in September, I posted some process screen caps of drawing & animating the guy who appears at the beginning/end of the video. Here’s one of ‘em. Click on the graphic to see the others.

For the big “HEY!” in the middle of the song, I drew, sliced up, and animated another drawing of the guy (the idea being that the sudden yell would scare him out of his chair)…

…but something about the way it came out made me not like it. So he got demoted to the pile of outtakes at at the end of the video and was replaced by a far superior idea, this Rodchenko rip-off (which I recently recycled for a joke):

Green screen test. I’m not a very meticulous color-keyer.

The NewsCenter split-screen template from Illustrator, before I imported it into After Effects and jazzed it up. This whole concept was based off of a promo photo I made a year or so ago.

Left: A fake popup ad. Right: I originally played the angry blogger, but then we re-shot it with Sturgis. We have such an eye for detail, we even used an authentic Crappy Old Webcam! I had a mustache for approximately 40 minutes. Sadly, I used to wear those glasses all the time.
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Here’s some lazy asset recycling. This is a layout for “The Pioneer Observer,” a fake newspaper template I use for random Optimist comics. This is a fine example of scaling back one’s ambition. I originally envisioned a sequence like this: Sturgis walking down a street reading a magazine with me on the cover… camera zooms in to me on magazine cover reading a newspaper… camera zooms in to newspaper with a photo of Sturgis on it looking at a computer screen… camera zooms in, etc. The prep and prop work seemed overwhelming, and I couldn’t find a cheap way to print a single newspaper-sized sheet of newsprint. I kept hacking down the idea until all that was left was a 3D camera pan across a graphic mock-up. It’s still good, just not GRAND.

This is some crazy shit that I can’t fully explain. It’s like the Holodeck broke. That’s Conan O’Brien’s desk.

About Tom Pappalardo

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