02 July 2006

The Felties vs. Music Videos

I'm proudly a member of the MTV Generation. And they said all those music videos would rot our brains. Ha! If anything, the efforts of so many talented short-short feature moviemakers has given a boost to our visual vocabulary.

Okay, okay, there's a lot of crapola out there. Quite often jump cuts, meaningless flash and bootylicious babes make up for a lack of true visual panache. But the gems, when you find them, can excite and entertain like no other media form can. The old show Night Flight excavated those gems and put them on display. I like what the Wikipedia has to say about the show:

Night Flight was also one of the first American television shows to display the music
as an art form, rather than purely as a promotional tool for the artists.

And an artform it trulcomparableprable to microfiction.

I've described The Felties as a web-comic and a live action cartoon on this blog. Today, I want to reflect upon The Felties as music video.

Here is "Human Behavior", song by Bjork, video by Michel Gondry (about a decade before Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind):

Bjork lends herself well to music videos; she and her music are vibrant and fun. Gondry capturmischievousnessousness at the core of this quirky little song and delivers up a dreamscape of shifting proportions and location shots that feel like studio shots -- or is that the other way around?

I really admire Gondry's command of on-camera space. Everything is right where it needs to be, and every shot is composed like an individual painting. Mise en scene = w00+! In storyboarding The Felties, I've pushed myself to tell as much of the story as possible with each frame, to not just go for the obvious set-up.

Another example of Gondry's virtuosity in this medium is his video for "Lucas with the Lid Off", song by the mononymic Lucas:

I've seen this video so many times, I've lost count. It blew my socks off the first time I saw it, and it still does! Obviously, I'm not going to pack as much detail into episodes of The Felties as Gondry packs into this video, but there is a kinetic energy here that I want to explore.

Kinetic energy and well controlled mise en scene -- these are the things I like to see in a music video. These are the things I see in The Felties. I want each five minute episode to sweep past the viewer like a song, fascinate and entertain the viewer, and cause the viewer to reach for the mouse and click "replay". Fifteen years after the episode has been viewed, I want the viewer to search YouTube (or whatevequivalentivilent is by then) trying to find that really cool puppet video they saw back in high school. Yeah. That'd be neat!

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