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.

30th Aug 2007

Synthesizer test shot....

I shot a quick test shot using the synthesizer today. Just to check that I could scrub the footage back and forth to imitate the bass-line. I also tested an easier method of warping the time of the video clip back and forth (which should save me a whole lot of time when it comes to editing the video).

I'm still a bit worried about how we're going to move the camera in a clean and easy manner for all the panning in each shot, but I'm sure we'll sort something out. Anyway, I had better get on to these storyboards before I run out of time....

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28th Aug 2007

More test shots....

Well, I've had a bit of trouble planning the video so far, as I'm not too sure what shots I'm going to be able to pull off. So today I spent a while testing some of the shots that I was most concerned with.

The first shot is one that I had trouble with for the first music video: stop-motion animating the vocals. For the first video I ended up slowing down the music 8 times and then shooting pictures from the camera as fast as I could. I won't be able to do that for this one (seeing as the camera moves between each shot). So I sat down and planned out the shot - measuring the frames between what I thought were important sounds in the vocal line.

It didn't turn out quite as well as I had planned, but I think with a little bit of practise I should be able to get it right. Anyway, it's not really important that the vocal part looks perfect, just as long as you can see what's going on. At least now I know that I can plan vocal shots into the video. I imagine in half the shots it'll be hidden behind a microphone, so won't be too important.

The second test shot was a time-lapse shot. I'm hoping to film a bunch of these at our next gig. They should look more interesting with the whole band playing and under stage lighting.

It turned out quite jittery, but I think that a decent camera, tripod and rig will sort this out a little. I'm probably going to end up spending hours and hours trying to line it all up by hand....

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27th Aug 2007

And again....

So, I've finally decided to start on the third music video. This time for the song Half-time Double-team (which can currently be downloaded from the music page).

I'm in a bit of a panic right now as I need to have everything planned by the 7th of September. I'm frantically trying to organise a crew, cameras, test shots, a venue, storyboards, etc.

Anyway, I only have one test shot to show right now. It shows the general idea behind the video.

I'm planning to shoot the video in a local venue called The Yellow Submarine. We'll set up our gear as though we're performing and use the stage lights for lighting.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll try to post more when I have some spare time.

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17th Apr 2007

Video download available....

I've added two video download options to the video page. One large high resolution file, and one smaller medium resolution file for those who would like to download and view a higher quality version.

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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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