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Friday, 29 October 2010 20:27

Cutting "The Story"

Written by  Debra Kaufman
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PostColWhen Maroon 5 went on its 2008–2009 World Tour — which culminated in a Washington D.C. performance during the inaugural balls celebrating the election of President Barack Obama — the pop/rock band didn’t document it in film or video.

Instead, Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning Commercial Director Bob Carmichael, who’s also the father of Maroon 5 keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, went along for the ride with a camera. “They were going to make a book about what happens behind the scenes when the band tours,” says Danny DelPurgatorio, creative director of Vitamin, a hybrid production/post studio in Chicago.

In today’s world, music videos are more likely to be seen on the Internet than on TV (with the exception of DVDs), and a successful music video needs to go viral to gain a big audience. Add to that the fact that music video budgets are now smaller than ever. How this Maroon 5 video — aptly named “The Story” — was told is a great example of how clever production and powerful post can make a music video that rocks, regardless of the budget. With creative animated graphics and other work done in post, Vitamin helped Carmichael turn his photos into a music video that won six awards at the 31st Annual Telly Awards, including the People’s Telly Bronze Award.

PostCol2It all started with Carmichael’s 4,000 photographs. “Bob is a fantastic director across the board and also an awesome photographer,” says DelPurgatorio. With Editor Brad Wetmore of Wetmore Digital Arts, the two creatives cut the entire music video — using Apple’s Final Cut Pro — from those photographs, which depicted a behind-the-scenes world that fans had never seen. The editors winnowed down the 4,000 photos by nearly half and, with the narrative edit completed, the rest was created in post. “Once we got the rough cut, we jumped on a call with Bob and Brad and talked about what we wanted to do,” says DelPurgatorio. “But given the nature of the work, we waited until it was locked to begin putting graphics and animations on top of it.”

Wetmore and Carmichael cut the music video in a documentary style, lingering longer on some moments to tell the story or create an emotional beat. Even so, some of these moments needed to be tweaked. “We’d say, this section needs to be adjusted, so we worked back and forth,” explains DelPurgatorio. Vitamin used mostly low-tech, hands-on tools, including the hand-drawing or painting of elements that were composited (via Adobe After Effects) on top of images, as well as reshooting some images for stop-motion movements. “A lot of the design elements, color choices and movement come from the photos themselves,” DelPurgatorio says, noting that the concert itself had great lighting and colorful effects. “We accented those shapes and colors within the cut.”

The main goal was to enhance Carmichael’s personal journey behind the scenes on the tour. “We wanted the piece to feel like a journal,” said DelPurgatorio. “We see ourselves as a hybrid studio where we try different techniques and approaches and use a lot of different media. The nature of the project allowed us to do this as well.”

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