Monday, April 16, 2007

The White Whale

Movie reviewers like to criticize certain films that they perceive as being over-cut for their “music video editing” – and it is not a compliment. Some old school filmies blame MVs for ruining the attention span of the planet’s young. But I would say that many video directors and fans are less obsessed with super fast edits than they are with …

One take videos. Every director who has ever made (or thought of making) a music video has considered the idea of a one taker. Even if it is only in his/her mind, every director has their own personal take on how they would do it. Kind of like the Aristocrats of promo clips.

Kev over on Antville compiled a massive list of one take videos a few years back and many added and added to it. Check it out, it is a mighty list indeed. A brand-new addition to that list is …

Patrick Daughters’ new Feist clip. Everyone loves it. Well most everyone.

The reason that this one-take video stands out is because the structure of the clip actually works with the feel of the visuals and the building low-fi emotionality of the music.

So many one-take videos have a forced feel where I end up noticing how much of a strain it is to maintain the paper-thin conceit of no edits. Most one-take directors (MV and otherwise) seem to be shooting for “bravura” and end up missing the point all together.

Watch the Feist "1234" video and try not to have a smile on your face by the last choruses. It is a joy to watch.

Obviously there are many other things the director did right, from the not-too-slick dancers and the whimsical Jet Li wall running choreography, the ZOOM-like wardrobe. The artist and the song are (of course) pretty good, too. But the one-take “gag” never overwhelms the vibe of it all – which is why the video works so well. My only minor ding is that you never really get to see the performer's face very well, a common one take issue.

This clip is about the artist and the song and not the director waving his arms to draw attention to his technical achievement. Like seduction, flatulence and refereeing a basketball game - technical achievement is done well when no one even notices it is being done at all.

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