After my partner’s friend decided not to go, i found myself with a free ticket to the JAWS show at the academy. I’ve never listened to jaws in my life, have no real interest in their niche and had loads of work to do, so naturally i ended up going. Me and Kira perched near the back door of the venue, staying out of the way of the endless tide of slightly drunk and far too excited teenagers that clumped to the front. It was pretty interesting to see how much energy these people had – even the house music being played before the band was sang along to, like an arena rock encore with full cast. Even the crowds at Death Grips weren’t this rabid.
10 minutes late, the band made it to the stage, swiftly kicking into a song from their latest record (i assume). You can see why people like these guys – the song’s are hooky enough, they dress weirdly enough, and the lead singer isn’t that bad looking. He reminded me a bit of Frankie Muniz. I’ll let you decide for yourself if that’s a good thing or not.
The songs themselves weren’t really all that great – your usual indie riff over chords with some sort of vocal chant at some point. likeable enough, but not my thing. The set was solid enough however, with a good mix of deep cuts and hits. you could tell which ones were hits by how high the crowd was jumping. The mix was a bit odd – the drums were more than dominant and the lead singer’s guitar was oddly low, especially seeing as his reverb soaked strums seemed to be the backbone of all the songs. Nevertheless, the band was tight and decently energetic, and the drummer really held it all together perfectly. I can’t really slag them off too much – the crowd was loving it, the band seemed to be having a good time and even played my girlfriends favourite track from the first album.
One weird thing that happened was the encore; They just sort of left after a point. No goodbye, no thank-you, just sort of walking away from their instruments. they came back as expected a minute later but everyone in the venue was certainly puzzled by the nature of their brief departure. No-one really knew what to do for a bit. Lots of turning heads, not much applause or demand for them to come back.
Overall it was a good time. Fun to watch the crazy crowd, ignoring the odd choice of band to freak out too. If you like your indie simple, dreamy and energetic, i would recommend these guys, but not too much to anyone else. You’ll just be like me – feeling weird and a bit out of place stood at the back, making snarky comments about the shirtless guy trying his best to start a circle pit.
We did it team. The track is mixed, mastered and handed in – with an 85% grade!
Our song is finally completed and we couldn’t be prouder of it.
It’s interesting to hear the differences between the finished Pro Tools version and the original demo I did on Garageband – everything has so much more life and character to it. Thevocals really push the song too – Thanks to wordsmith Dom for the awesome lyrics, and Chris, who sung it PERFECTLY.
Here’s a quick comparison of the two versions. Even in the short introduction the differences are miles apart – Take a listen!
Our lecturers, Phil and Jos, were very impressed with the whole thing. Although Jos thought the bass was a little quiet, he was loving the guitar sound and drum performance. They praised us for getting such a full sound out of such a dry mix, and told us that we got the highest mark in the class! Smashing.
After the Assessment was done we took to Studio D to dub over some dialogue for the film. we used a U87 and a MD441 for Dom’s voice and got him to simply mimic what the character was saying on screen, as if it was an impression. We did about four takes of each line, all with different inflections and emotions, and put them in playlists for easy access.
“Do you ever get bad news? Like, REALLY bad news?”
After browsing YouTube for inspiration, it struck me that all the best mash-ups have some sort of context built around them – a theme that follows throughout or a story/message built up through the action/dialogue in the clips. It adds so much more comedic value and resonates a lot better with the viewer – after all, the best viral videos are the ones that really get an emotion out of you.
Realising this, I set about picking a couple of existing mashups that I though could be put in a better context. Reaction comedy is all the rage these days; Kids React, H3H3 Productions etc have made a name for themselves through using their words and actions to display their opinions in a funny way. But what about the other way around? What about using existing clips as a reaction to something that Ihave created? Well, That’s exactly what I set out to do.
After shooting a simple scene with my housemate Ben, I used clips taken from the many spit-take, “Oh my god” and “NOOOOO” supercuts on YouTube to create the idea that all these people were reacting to me, and as if what I said was the worst news in the world – in reality, it’s just simple gossip, but everything’s funnier with exaggeration. You could say I’ve done a mashup of mashups.
I wanted to push the film further into chaos as the time progressed – the reactions got more extreme, the editing got more complex and the amount of footage being shown at one time made the screen exceptionally busy. To achieve this, I brought all the clips into Adobe Premiere, shortened the clips to as small as they could go (while still showing the reaction), and overlaying multiple clips using the opacity tool. This helped me emulate the type of panic you feel upon hearing something REALLY shocking – time flies by and all the events blur together, leaving you unsure of all the finer details. I feel I properly captured this emotion, further emphasised by the famous classical piece ‘Ride of the Valkyries’, Johnny Cash’s rendition of ‘Hurt’, and the viral video ‘Best Cry Ever’.
To top it all off, I decided to throw the viewer another curveball – both me and Ben are holding cans of Irn Bru in the intro sequence, so I payed it off with an advert-style shot of me drinking the can and looking satisfied. The current Coca-Cola theme ‘Taste the Feeling’ plays over the top of this clip, a juxtaposition to the non-cola drink I’m sipping. this follows the idea of ‘surrealist comedy’, popularised by shows such as ‘The Eric Andre Show’ and ‘Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!’, which constantly tries to confuse it’s audience through contrast and surprise.
My short film is a parody of 1970’s cop films – goofy, action-packed and full of chase scenes. I got my inspiration from the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ video, which featured them dashing around in phoney police cars and throwing dummies off of bridges. Exciting stuff.
The film was shot entirely using the iPhone 6s, borrowed from a friend, using its built-in lens for its clarity and stability. I also used the Super 8 app by Nexvio, a recommendation from our lecturers, using the 60’s filter and with chroma distortion effect. This app was actually used in an Award winning film – Searching for Sugar Man, for a couple of shots when the creator couldn’t afford actual film! This gave it the antique look that the low budget films of the time had, making it feel like one of those strange VHS tapes you’d find in your parent’s attic. I even changed the aspect ratio to be 4:3, matching the ratio the cameras had at the time. I spent ages making it as authentically vintage as possible, from choosing the title font to adding a vinyl crackle to the audio.
Naturally, the shoe-string budget kept me from going TOO crazy with props, but a trip to poundland and a can of spray paint gave us some pretty convincing weapons. We also got cheesy moustaches for the cast and a foam baseball bat that really isn’t that soft at all.
I put it all together in Premiere Pro – the footage flowed together so well that I didn’t have to do a whole lot of cutting, and the film fit PERFECTLY into one minute. I used a song by The Rapture called ‘Modern Romance’ for its Lo-Fi feel and funk style rhythm – perfect for my gritty action sequence. I’m dead proud of it and hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Being the composer of the track, lucky me got the privilege to play a wonderful Steinway and Sons piano in the Peel Hall. I’m no piano virtuoso, but I took lessons back in the day and still noodle around from time to time, so the part didn’t take TOO long to get right. The feel of the track is fairly calm and laid back, so I had the Dampening pedal on all the way through the performance – It made the sound a lot softer and less bright. I also made sure to keep a good length on the notes I was playing, as I wanted it to be as smooth as possible throughout. The natural reverb of the room was so phenomenal that I could have sat there and played all day – but we had work to do.
After some brief coaching from Me and Ben, Andreas took to the bongos to record one of the many percussive parts. We had him play fairly firmly, as the overtones of the drums came out best with harder hits. I was surprised how well the room tone played into the way the bongos sounded – it really filled out some of the space the sound was lacking. Soon after, Andreas and I warmed up our vocal chords for some on-the-spot vocal harmonies. I sang an octave below him and we overdubbed another melody line, making the whole arrangement sound pretty huge. It kinda reminded me of the Bohemian Rhapsody Choral section, but slightly flat.
Guitar wise, we chose to use a Fender deluxe (great for clean tones) and an Epiphone Les Paul (for it’s warm neck pickup). I wanted to reduce string noise, which usually lands in the higher register, so I rolled the highs off a little from the amp – This gave us a quintessentially warm and jazzy sound that worked perfectly with the drums we had already recorded. For a second guitar dub we drove the amp a little and reduced the volume on the guitar, adding a slight difference in tone that brought out more character in both tracks.
We managed to write the MIDI for the synth using an actual keyboard, meaning I once again had to channel my inner Mozart. After a bit of fumbling, we got a clean take and tidied it up in Pro-Tools.
All that’s left are the Shakers and Cabasa – fairly standard practice for both, though we used two shakers at once to bulk up the sound a little. Bish bash bosh, and we have a (mostly) finished track!