Craftsmanship

I realize that I’m pretty late jumping on the Coldplay bandwagon, and I realize also that this is one huge bandwagon to be jumping onto, but I have to comment on the video above.

Coldplay has pretty much hit the mainstream. Their songs top the charts, and while they are lyrically and musically sophisticated, it’s sometimes easy to hold that against them. It’s a form of snobbery that I’m not immune to: if everybody is already listening to this stuff, why should I?

But slowly and surely, I’ve purchased Coldplay’s musical library, and their songs have become an unofficial second soundtrack to Icarus Down (Zoe Keating stays on top, in my opinion). I’ve also learned from other sources (Dave at Blogography being one) just how much effort the members of Coldplay put into their music — not just their songs, but the videos that go with them. So, I came to respect the band. But I didn’t realize just how much craft they put into their work until I saw the video above. Watch it and see. You’ll be glad you did.

If it hasn’t hit home, think on this: this video is animated. Chris Martin appears to be interacting with chalk drawings on asphalt (you can see the sidewalk across the bottom of the screen). The video even takes advantage of where the sun is in the sky as the video plays out (note where the shadows lie), and the whole thing is animated using stop motion.

In a normal film, you need to shoot thirty frames to get a second of material. Even if they slow that frame rate down, think of how many pictures they’d have to shoot to get a four minute long video. They must have done it on multiple days. They simply must have; there is no other way. Talk about going the extra mile for your fans.

A few weeks ago, Cameron and I talked about the artist Zoe Keating, and he expressed a similar opinion about her musical work. To take one cello and making it do the work of sixteen is simply amazing. You just have to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into producing something like this, and over and above the music itself, it gives you another reason to appreciate the effort. This is what makes art, art.

And speaking of craftsmanship, I’d like to share a project that I just happened to stumble upon while trawling through the Internet. While looking up the wikipedia entry on Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, I see a reference to his participation in a pilot project for a steampunk-style film called The Dark Side of the Earth.

The web site for The Dark Side of the Earth is impressive in and of itself. It describes a story where, in 1900, a massive explosion caused the Earth to stop spinning on its axis. Fourteen years later, the survivors are eking out a marginal quasi-Victorian society in a world of perpetual sun when a young woman named Isabelle learns that history has gone wrong and the Earth was never meant to stop. To put things right requires that our heroes undertake a journey to the dark side of the Earth where, of course, many perils and surprises await.

The web site, created by the author and producer of this project, Neil Oseman, made me want to see this film. Which is unfortunate, because the film hasn’t been made yet. Oseman, who is clawing his way up the ladder of filmmaking by working hard on other films, and a long tradition of amateur filmmaking on the side, is hunting around for a backer to his project, going so far as to set up sets and film a few scenes to try and sell the idea to potential studios. With actors like Cumberbatch and Kate Burdette as well as crew members who are no strangers to other film projects (I saw a couple of references to Doctor Who among some of the resumes), you can see that this project has a fair amount of depth. But without any studio backing, the project is going forward through the sheer force of Oseman’s will, and the compelling vision that the other members of the project have bought into. You can see the hard work that has gone into the sets, the imagination that sits behind the storyline, not to mention the bravery of posting an amateur version of the movie filmed as a recent grad back in 1996.

Check out the web site, and keep tabs on this project. I wish Oseman all success, and I look forward to the day when I’ll be sitting down to watch the theatrical release of The Dark Side of the Earth.


P.S.: Speaking of neat things, check out this web site, which takes any address you choose to enter, and makes a music video out of it, thanks to Google Earth. Neat!

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