29 Mar 2010 12:01 am   //   Filed under: Mixes, Movies, Music, Videos

Epic Stop Motion Monster Mashup

Here’s a video and a story. First, the video:

Now the story:

Earlier this month, my brother Gerritt and his wife Melanie hosted a party at their house. Gerritt made a playlist of party music, and I suggested we play a movie to serve as “visual noise” for people to talk about and smile at. I went on Netflix queued up the 1963 epic Jason and the Argonauts.

As we played this movie at the party, we were all amazed at how every scene seemed to sync perfectly with whatever song was playing. When the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” came on, it was truly a Pink-Floyd-meets-The-Wizard-of-Oz moment.

We imagined a video: the greatest scenes from Jason and the Argonauts condensed and synchronized to “I Gotta Feeling.” Making that video felt not only logical, but mandatory.

The following week, I attended a panel discussion about Internet video at the South-by-Southwest conference in Austin, at which I heard two film/video artists (Brett Gaylor and Elisa Kreisinger) talk about the creative energy that goes into remixing other people’s work. I felt inspired. People really enjoy creating and watching these mashups. This helped me justify investing some of my spare time in this editing project.

Back at my computer, I started clipping and ordering the best scenes from Jason and the Argonauts. I soon realized that “I Gotta Feeling” is a stupefyingly long song. To make this project as fast-paced and funny as I envisioned, I would need more monsters. This led to a month-long obsession with the brilliant work of special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. I scanned through The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Mysterious Island (1961), One Million Years B.C. (1966) and Clash of the Titans (1981). One scene at a time, I built this video synced to the Black Eyed Peas song.

I find digital video editing to be good stress relief. I get lost in the positive feedback loop of every scene coming together, getting better with each hour spent. One reason I appreciate the precision of digital video so much (other than that I’m a control freak) is that I learned video editing in college using VHS decks, which were an exercise in frustration and creative compromise. The most basic editing tools on today’s home computers are a thousand times better than the old way.

I made this video for fun, but I think it improved my editing skills, too. I also found a renewed appreciation for the hand-built, analog creations of Ray Harryhausen. His stop-motion models still hold their magic decades later, viewed frame-by-frame on a digital screen.