I wasn’t alive in 1981 during MTVs first broadcast, but I know that, creatively, music videos aren’t much of what they used to be. I have distinct memories of growing up watching MTV with my two older brothers and being impressed by the art of music videos. Today music videos aren’t as big of a focus in the music biz, but every once in a while a quality video comes along that wakes people up. The following sheds some light on three recent videos that do just that. Each has a mini-lesson that can be translated to advertising and applied to your own creative endeavors.
Don’t neglect the nostalgia factor
Advertising has always had an emphasis on fresh ideas to capture people’s attention. Creating something that never existed has a sense of excitement and allure. While these ideas are great in their own right, it shouldn’t be frowned upon to take a different approach from time to time. Sometimes older ideas are overlooked simply because “it’s been done” or “everyone’s seen it already,” however sometimes the fact that “it’s been done” can be an idea’s strongest attribute.
The Foo Fighters took some interesting steps on their latest album. In an attempt to create a different sound in the digital recording age, they recorded their entire album on analog tape. Not only was it recorded on tape, but lead singer Dave Grohl’s garage was used as their “studio.” And, no, I’m not talking about a garage converted into a studio but rather the literal garage where Dave parks his cars. When this news first came out, many wondered if this would pay off as a clever aesthetic decision or just be an attempt to be different.
By creating on tape, and in Dave’s garage, the recording had a unique sound that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. As Dave explains the recording process here, each recording becomes a performance. An instrument will sound different each time it’s run through the tape machine. As a result, no single take sounds like the next and a very distinct vibe is captured.
The Foos didn’t stop there. The music videos for the first two singles off the album, “Rope” and “White Limo” were recorded on VHS tape. As we all know, VHS tapes have a grainy picture with warped colors. These types of video aren’t seen anymore in the age of HiDef. The visual and audial cues from the videos reflect those classic MTV days for a lot of older fans.
In these two instances, the Foo Fighters didn’t reinvent the wheel and yet a great creative product resulted from recycling the past. All of the old techniques acted as an unofficial marketing campaign to promote the new album. It captured an older audience by having them relate to old techniques that echoed a warm, nostalgic part of their life. At the same time, it captured a curious, young audience that wondered, “what the heck is tape?” after Dave sent out a TwitPic of the his tape machine.
Challenge the Obvious
A lot of times we get hung up on creating a huge game-changing idea but forget that sometimes great ideas are actually very simple. For this we look to Marty Hardin’s weekly Tech Watch blog. A few weeks back Tech Watch referenced two great examples of simplicity at its finest. First up is Radiohead’s music video for “House of Cards.”
Historically, Radiohead has been known to take risks, so it should be no surprise that on the day of the video shoot there wasn’t a single camera on set… sorta.
The music video utilized Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR to capture what became their music video. So what the heck are those? These are two devices that use lasers to capture 3D images and landscapes. The data is fed into a computer where it is fooled around with and the result has a beautiful effect that’s both stunning and provocative.
When I first saw the “House of Cards” video about two years ago it left a lasting impression on me. It looked so cool to me that I wondered what kind of crazy voodoo was used to create it. At the time, I mistakenly credited the visual to special effects, only to recently discover the real reasons behind it. Somewhere along the creative thought process, someone was bold enough to challenge the obvious fact that cameras are used to shoot video.
Not Cheap but Inexpensive – Be your own McGuyver
I find that some of the best ideas come from being resourceful. Limited resources are a breeding ground for creativity because you have no choice but to create something out of nothing. Moullinex’s video for “Catalina” is a great example of how $99 and a little technological know-how can create something that will turn a few heads.
By using a technique similar to Radiohead, Moullinex took a Microsoft Kinect to capture the 3D footage and a few open source programs to toy with the data. Afterwards the video was polished up in Adobe After Effects and released into cyberspace.
What’s great about the “Catalina” video is that the small monetary value of this project has no affect on the artistic value. Creatively speaking, sometimes less produces more simply by necessity. By becoming your own artistic McGuyver, you usually produce something better than if you were well equipped for the task in the first place. Moullinex’s detailed creative process can be seen here.
A lot can be learned from getting into the mind of another artist. Seeing a final product is always fun, but understanding the thought process and motivation is much more useful. By getting into someone else’s head you can influence your own thoughts. Hopefully, if you’re stumped you can derail your continuous patterns of creative attack and bring about a new perspective.
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