Wednesday, June 5, 2002

The Perfect Fusion of Audio and Video

Music is a big part of the everyday environment at Cloudjammer Studio. It's the constant background noise you hear when we're on the phone – it's the loud pounding rhythm's we're jumping around to when we get a new client or finish a website. Lately, we've been enthralled with some new Internet radio stations (Beethoven Radio and XTC, in particular) and the sounds of Simon and Garfunkle's "The Boxer".

In this day and age music is not simply about sound. MTV took care of that more than a dozen years ago. The truth of the video phenomenon is that most music videos fail to either capture the spirit or quality of their associated audio tracks.

Enter The Chemical Brother's single "Star Guitar" from their newest album Come With Us.

For those not familiar with the electronica artists, The Chemical Brothers are another fine example of history majors changing the world. Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have been making music for a dozen years, releasing albums since 1995, and they even won the Grammy for their instrumental dance track "Block Rockin' Beats." But the British duo may have finally played the audible part of the best music video of all time.

Video director Michael Gondry, a man who has worked wonders in the past for Daft Punk and recently did some amazing work with LEGOs for White Stripes, worked visual magic for the video "Star Guitar."

"I was on a train trip with my girlfriend and I had shot some video and played this track and it went so well together. The idea is of a journey, escaping something and always moving was in the track. The beat is strong and each element corresponds to a different note in the song," says Gondry.

The video illustrates a journey as seen from inside a moving train. The 4/4 time layered techno track is reinforced by the passing scenery. "Every sound from the track will be illustrated by an element of the landscape that appears each time that sound is heard. As the song becomes more elaborate, we will create a more and more complex landscape."

To create the elaborate visuals in the video, and to sync them exactly with the audio track, Gondry took 20 hours of DV footage at various times of day over the course of 10 train trips through rural and urban France. The video was then processed and matched with the music over a two month period at the director's brother studio, Oliver's Twisted Laboratories.

The end result is a masterpiece of visual and audio fusion. Smoke stacks appear in time with keyboard trills, the railroad tracks narrow to convergence as the audio winds down, the sky changes from day to night with changing octaves, and individually computer generated townspeople represent different musical notes.

You can watch it over and over again and see something new. Of course, we're perfectionists at Cloudjammer so we took special delight in the detail given to the visual work. Watch the reflection in the train's a perfect match for the scenery. In fact, the final product is so convincing that an associate of ours watched the video and asked how they could have possibly recorded the music before making the video. fb

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