About the 'You First' video

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"I spent exactly one year creating a one minute 2-dimensional watercolor stop motion music video to accompany our song 'You First'

I had made a music video for our band before--melding together live clips of our performances with shots I'd taken of the band and our surroundings and tying them together with some of my favorite movie scenes. But for this music video the band requested that I draw from my talent as an illustrator and experience making simple animations for my solo work, so I did.

I wanted to take an analogue, almost fine art approach, so rather than create the animations via computer graphics and software I chose to do manual stop motion using paper cutouts. Going one step beyond the classic paper cutout method, I hand-painted the backdrops, scenery, and characters via ink, pastel, and watercolors prior to cutting them out.

I created a stop-motion stage in the middle of my living room using my cello stand as a camera holder, planks from a pallet I nabbed and dissected as the stage itself, desk lamps I collected from college dorm castaways and storage, and used duct tape and pillow filling to secure the camera in the cello stand (trying to keep it as level as possible). I chose a frame rate of 15 f/s, and every few seconds of action took hours of me leaning over the stage and making minor adjustments to each cut-out before standing up to take a picture. Kind of like artsy yoga where every position causes back strain.

When I was finally finished taking the pictures, it was time for phase 2: aligning the imagery to the song. I've created a stop motion and score in the past--but when the visuals are the most important element it is simple to merely write the score to match the action on the screen.  Since this is a music video, the most important element is the song itself.  Therefore the imagery must be molded to match the score.  This sounds simple, but in stop motion the movie timing is based on the frame rate.  Meaning, I had to divide the song into sections  of action, time them, then adjust the number of frames used in each section to precisely fit the timing of the song.  To accomplish this I used a bunch of math and then made fine adjustments using the famed 'guess-and-check' method.

So there you have it: How to take one year to accomplish one minute of content. Hope you like it."

- Laura Klein, Fall 2016