David Knight - 30th Apr 2009

Drew Lightfoot has orchestrated a superb looking 'human animation', set in a huge deserted supermarket and mall - fantastic location - featuring k-os as the mall janitor in his own staccato dreamland, ably supported by Buck 65 and Matt Babel.

All-around excellent entertainment - and Drew thoroughly explains how he did it below.

Drew Lightfoot on the making of k-os' 4 3 2 1 video

"The track is infectiously playful and fun, so it was important that the video compliment this. The concept was to have this rambunctious energy boil over and take control of a most mundane environment - your average American shopping mall.

"Ultimately the idea is that k-os, a lowly mall janitor, transcends reality through his music and conjures up fantastical characters in his mind that come to life all around him. Throughout this continual transformation, K-OS takes on different personas to interact with the various characters. His busy imagination helps him escape his unremarkable life.

"To keep it dreamy and quirky, I chose not to make any of the movement within the piece to flow naturally. The live-action footage was shot in a manner to emulate a stop-motion aesthetic, giving every action a stepped, staccato flow. It was captured at several different frame rates but never in real time. The entire video plays back at 12 FPS.

"We rehearsed with k-os, the other performers and the dancers before we showed up for the night shoots. It was very much a case of trial and error - move like this for this many frames and we'll achieve this result... eventually.

"Animating with humans is a sadistic form of torture and the performers were incredible troopers to endure the pain without complaint. For the animated dance sequences, the dancers would have to move in small increments and statuesquely hold their poses while the camera fired a single frame, and then on to the next.

"We created some interesting looks as we went. One of my favourite setups was the skating movement which was achieved by driving the dolly bed with k-os upon it backwards in a snaking curve as he leaned into the turns to make it look as though he is propelling himself along. Most of the animated 'skating' shots were achieved in sneakers, by holding a pose on one foot and jumping a predetermined length forward to adjust the pose slightly. We had two animators, Kurt Firla and Mike Hollenbeck onboard to shoot various setups with the dancers while I worked mostly with K-OS and the hockey setup.

"The video was shot with one RED camera and two Nikon stills cameras shooting simultaneously in different parts of the mall locations. It was quite the workout running from one setup to the next - constantly setting up more shots as we went. The shoot schedule was ambitious but thankfully we had a skilled and nimble crew that stayed on their toes over the two nights.

"The lighting setups were simple as the fluorescent and mixed lights of the location produced such beautiful results. We were watching the animation shots played back as they were shot - keeping our spirits high as the painstaking process came to life right before our eyes."

Credits

Production CompanyRevolver Film Company
DirectorDrew Lightfoot & k
Executive ProducerJannie McInnes
ProducerN
Director of PhotographyAndre Pienaar
EditorBrendan Woollard

David Knight - 30th Apr 2009

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