I recently found a competition online which GettyImages was running to remix their collection of pictures, videos, and audio into short stories, music videos, and or video art. I thought this competition would be a nice challenge for me- stock video isn’t the most engaging stuff (perhaps that’s why they took down the competition website…)
How it was made:
I could only use Getty Images’ video collection, which was limited and directed more for B-Roll (contextual content for stories, not the main content). I typically make music videos using intense action-oriented clips, because that’s what works best for my editing style.
Unfortunately, there is very little action in B-Roll, because it’s intended as a backdrop to the main content, such as narration in a documentary or TV commercial. So I started watching the current entries in the competition to see what others had made. I saw that many people had the same problem I had with the limited content, but there were few creative twists that made the videos interesting.
Almost all these creative twists involved a story of some kind, the most popular theme being life and a progression through life. I recognized how people were leveraging human emotion to create stories and I instantly thought of using the emotional sounds of a distorted electric guitar in blues music.
Now my challenge was to find the perfect song. I had to listen very closely to each track Getty Images offered to recognize its various editing opportunities. It’s better to have a range of emotions in the music, which can be differentiated by sharp sounds and quick changes. This allows the viewer to understand the relationship between the music and the visuals. On the other hand it’s important to balance the amount of editing opportunities with creating a clear story.
Each song I analyzed had a different range of emotions and level of editing opportunities. However, after careful consideration of over a dozen beautiful blues songs, I had to go with one of the slowest songs, which had a very simple beginning-middle-end structure. I realized that, although the distorted guitar of most blues songs would be a great asset, with a wide range of sharp fast emotions creating many editing opportunities, a short story would be most powerful. The best stories are the simplest ones, and synchronizing visuals to the fast and diverse emotions of the distorted guitar would risk confusing viewers throughout the progression of the story.
Unfortunately, the frustrating risk of confusing viewers continued as a constant obstacle in depicting my short story music video. My original idea was to show the contrast of emotions throughout a relationship between people (generic ‘people’ being the most abundant clips at Getty). However, Getty Images did not have very many video clips using the same actors (face palm). When they did, they did a poor job at tracking the actors so you can search for them in their database (double face palm). Still wanting to leverage the power of a story, I thought I could overcome this obstacle by picking two or three couples that did have multiple videos of them.
After testing video clips between couples, I saw there was still a clear risk of the viewer missing the connection and being confused by inconsistencies throughout the story. Luckily, I found a large series of video clips focusing around a cute young redhead. I realized this was my opportunity to give my audience something bright and clear to focus on. So I started searching for more videos of redheads and got even luckier by finding a slightly older redhead with the same facial structure and hair style. Although her male-lover changed (new hair color and style), it was a fair compromise for telling a story with a beginning, middle and end.
As this older redhead was engaging in a very intimate scene with a different male actor, I initially thought it was perfect to depict the relationship ending (with the redhead cheating on the original boy). Unfortunately, the only clip available of a male being angry or emotional towards a redhead, involved completely new actors, who were both younger and significantly different looking. I could have just shown a lone distraught male who looked similar, but cheating was difficult to depict non-verbally.
At this time I was becoming pretty distraught and thought about hurting someone. I’m actually a pretty peaceful guy, but that’s when it came to me: someone should die. I knew there were plenty of videos with depressed people for pharmaceutical commercials, but it all came together when I found a redhead running alongside the grassy countryside as if in some dream or after-life. I still needed something to lead up to this lethal climax, so I thought more about the intimate scene. A child was all I needed and I found this perfect little girl with the same cute curly hair all the redheads had. Throw in some fast car clips, a car accident and a dramatic ambulance ride to the hospital, and now we have a pretty emotional short story.
Considering my limitations, especially starting with a two week deadline, I’m pretty satisfied with my final product. It’s a very intense music video that I hope inspires people to seize the day, despite its b-rollish content. Unfortunately, my music video didn’t win. The judges chose more short stories that had narration actually voiced-over by the creators. But I want to thank everyone who supported me by voting for the video. Much better stuff is to come…