- Member: Kurai Seraphim
- Studio: Kurai Seraphim Productions
- Title: Fallen Angels
- Premiered: 2003-05-23
- Cardigans My Favourite Game
I don't really know what to say. I stressed my computer for weeks while making this video. I used the vob files in premiere avisynth tactic and the video came out looking pretty nice. Computer was mad at me though, as it kinda ran out of space on many occasions with 8 full dvds worth of content on the hard drive in addition to the project's temp files and the like.
When this video was shown at Animazement 2k3 (it was second in the contest), well, it sucked. The visual quality was below par, partly due to the fact that I exported it to VCD in order to put it on VHS because I had to meet a deadline and couldn't get a TV out setup to work and partly due to the fact that Animazement's main projector was dark tinted for whatever reason. You really couldn't see half of the video. I was in the third row and I know every detail of this video and I couldn't remotely tell what was going on. The video to begin with is hard to follow due to the fact that I'm a film student who prefers symbolism to blatent messages and when you can't see half of the stuff on the screen (virtually anything with Armitage, given Duel Matrix was as far as I could tell technogothic and had heavy shadows and dark tints already) its just a lost cause. The audio was also kinda fubar at animazement, as the pitch was high enough that everything was to an extent distorted, nothing moreso than the vocals (the words are kind of important to the video...)
It doesn't really matter and I'm not was worried about this as I could have been, as this video isn't really convention material. This is something you can't get without watching it a few times and its certainly not something anyone should be able to take in when its between action-based videos featuring audio Chop Sui and Shot Through the Heart, as its not really an action video. Yes, there is action, but its not the focus. This is a video for people who want something to watch and think about. I guess my target audience is the people that enjoy movies like Pi and most assuredly In The Mood For Love, movies that don't go in chronological order and don't tell you what happens when, leaving you to put things together for yourself. Two different people can get two different things out of my music video, and I hope this will cause them to talk about it. I also left an open ending for potential discussion and interpretation. Yes, there is a real winner, no, I'm not telling anyone who it is.
-----The Video Concept
I got the idea to make the video out of a fluke. My original concept was so stupid I won't share it here, but it involved Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 and Armitage Duel Matrix, as I have box sets with the footage from both (cyberpunk forever, people) and I really wanted to try something more action oriented.
-----What The Hell Is Going On
The video itself is a telling of a story I made up while listening to the song "My Favorite Game" which I saw on MTV 2's showing of the music videos that were censored on MTV one night when I was home from college (a weekend or holiday or something). The pace of the song is nice, as it has a set beat that you can edit with and features both low and high tempo moments, making it good for telling a story rather than a slow sentimental or a fast action video, as most good stories aren't exclusively one or the other.
The story itself involves Priss (BGC2040) and Armitage (from the series of the same name) and an odd relationship between them. No, they aren't lesbians. Now that we've got that established, I can continue.
Armitage is the established veterin of the vigilante cyberpunk world as far as this video is concerned. She has taken on an acolyte of sorts, someone whose life was in need of a change away from the parties, Priss Asagiri.
The video is actually Armitage looking back on the nature of their relationship and mentor and student after it has ended. I wish I had done more near the beginning to make this clear. The opening sequence is a showdown of sorts, as Armitage and Priss stare one another down. The image flickers between them to show that they are almost the same person. Flash into a chase scene featuring their motorcycles and resulting in crossed glances between the two of them at sunset. I assumed that the image of the sunset would send the message across that something had ended, but I guess music videos go by faster than most people can interpret such symbolism.
I should have put in a fade or something here to get the message through. This is where the flashback begins. The closeups on the eyes were supposed to give the introspective message, but again, the rush likely messed that up.
In this flashback, you first see images of Priss as she was, then Armitage introducing herself. Notice the focus on the eyes, first Priss' then the giant eye reading information behind Armitage as she starts the vocals. I used eyes throughout the music video to give the message that everything you see is a memory (as Armitage is looking back on the events and can only observe what has already gone by).
You see Armitage getting beaten up on by an unseen force, then dust covers everything. No, you aren't supposed to know whats going on yet. You get images of Armitage fighting a robot in a back ally. I actually named it "Not Samus" on the clip alias in the workspace. While the fight is nice for timing, it was actually there to make it clear that Armitage not only knows how to fight, but actually does fight. I chose a fight in an ally because it gives the impression that she's a vigilante, as when you think about it, thats where vigilantes fight.
The line featuring lust, well, I didn't like it. I didn't want to include it, but it would throw off the whole pace of the song, so I left it in there and tried to do something symbollic with it. Honestly speaking, there isn't any symbolism there, its just a few pictures of the Martian red light district featured in Polymatrix. Sorry I couldn't come up with anything better, I hate resorting to cop-out images just to fit the lyrics.
That distraction aside, you're supposed to figure out what exactly is up when you see Armitage facing off against Priss. You then see Armitage screaming something, Priss leaving, and Armitage standing alone. Obviously, there has been a disagreement that has seperated them. The music slows down and the first flashback has ended.
Whenever a character is alone and not moving, its intentional. They're thinking back on the events. You'll notice at the sunset near the beginning, Priss is sitting solo in the bottom right corner. Here, after the flashback has ended, you find Armitage alone for many segments, all of which have a dark tone from rain or nightfall or something of similar nature.
Also notice that Armitage drops her coat. This is important. The coat is essentially her tie to Priss, you'll pick up more on it later.
Here in this slow montage, images flicker onto the screen to spell out for anyone who hasn't realized it yet that Armitage is thinking about most of what you are seeing. Images of the two of them staring one another down, images of Priss confused and a bit unnerved, and images of Priss meeting an unknown party (role played by Sylia Stingray from Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040) and making a monetary transation. Priss emerges in a mechanical hardsuit in an image crossed against Armitage standing solitarily on a rooftop ledge. Yes, they have grown distant to the point where focusing on one will make the viewer lose track of the other. Finally, the music speeds up and Priss is alone on a building
The view enters her eyes, again signaling an oncoming flashback. This time, Priss in her suit fights a giant robot similar in size to the one Armitage was fighting earlier, also in an ally-like. The camera pans around her suit all the while, showing that you can't actually see Priss anymore. Ultimate, the camera pans away from the suit, quickly past Priss' "eyes", ending the sequence.
Motorcycle chase time. You see Priss (in her suit) on her motorcycle from before, this time dodging things attacks from an unknown force. This should cause the viewer to remember that Armitage was attacked by an unknown force earlier in the video. Priss drives in close and the audience sees the confrontation is between Priss and Armitage, each on their respective motorcycles. Yes, this scene is where the music video opened with the chase. I really wish I had a way of making this clearer in the video itself.
You now see images of a child. This is my "Look at me wish I were actually an artist by giving symbolism that hopefully people will be able to follow" moment. Small child is dreaming to the lines "I only know what I've been working for" shouldn't be too hard to follow, as it is a statement of childlike belief that her goal was obtainable. The child then blows out the candles, obviously making her wish. This is followed by Armitage happy with the wind in her hair and Priss smiling, showing reconciliation between the two is her goal. Yet again it all will likely go by too fast for people to make connections.
Now you have the two of them overlooking the city and not moving in the middle panel. Remember what I said about people not moving? Yeah, I'm showing that they're both thinking about whats going on (each portrayed in different panels) but make no action to try to resolve this. You were supposed to catch a certain coldness between them here
The actual images that flip across the screen show an emotionless Armitage on the table, then a Terminator-esque Armitage walking forward as the image pans up while another Armitage is smiling on the side, giving a progression between the coldness and emptyness to confidence on whatever decision she has come to in regards to her partner, whose images of herself in her hardsuit and herself alone on her motorcycle are similar to Armitage's yet, on opposing sides. They are each certain of their choice on the matter and they are directly opposite of one another, which should have maken itself unmistakable as the screen is split and each of them is presented evenly on opposing sides.
This image is also close, showing one final flashback. Armitage flashes the green information across the screen, recalling the earlier image of the eye and its information to cue the "I don't know what you're looking for" line forward again and pairing it with the current "I had a vision I could turn you right", hopefully completing the message for the viewer. Armitage now shows regret and a quick images shows a sillouette being impaled across the top of the screen, which should leave the audience to the assumption that Armitage doesn't WANT to do this, but she must. She dons her jacket while her upper body is bare, again the symbol of her tie with Priss. You now have an image of Armitage departing for a location showing a serious look contrasted against an image of her quivering and vulnerable with the jacket her only source of comfort. The jacket, her connection to Priss, gives her strength and covers her from the harsh world around her and she must make a decision.
Once again Armitage is solo, this time on a subway and obscured by passers by and doors, images of herself shouting at something just off screen flickering in and out. Priss is sitting, her foot bouncing with the beat as she contemplates a source of action and images flicker a zoom into her eye, signaling that flashbacks are soon to come. Armitage is now sitting alone on a swing, which should remind the audience of her childlike dreams. She shows obvious regret and conflict as images of herself alone (likely memories from before she met her ally) and images of Priss smiling and on her motorcyle, images noticably brighter than the ones from before. Priss is now seen as she is also thinking, images of herself angered as the main image of her thinking shifts locations from herself unarmored to herself going somewhere within her suit. A drumstick is broken and hopefully the audience remembers Priss had been tapping her shoe with the beat to the song and the audience makes the connection between Priss' beat and the breaking of the musical instrument that governed the beat. Finally, Armitage is slightly visible in the bottom left corner as Priss is in the distance. The sun is completely set and the two have gathered. Priss' present motorcycle shows that the chase featured throughout the video has come to an end, hopefully also making it clear that the images seen in this sequence all occured on the night of the chase prior to the actual showdown.
The camera is now focused on Priss alone as she thinks of Armitage, then of the pain she endured and wounds she has taken in the process of becoming this vigilante force.
This five second period was supposed to be the key message of the video, but I'm almost certain that it failed due to its quickness. Priss doesn't want to be a vigilante, she doesn't want anything that Armitage has brought her, and in a fit of rage she attacks Armitage. Armitage, the more experienced of the pair and also angered that she had been directly assaulted by her pupil unleashes a devistating counter attack, sending Priss into the ground. A quick flash of Priss suprised blinks over the screen and the two of them each look back on what has just happened. Armitage is breathing hard, slowly taking her own overreation and the damage she may have caused. Priss, on the other hand, is pissed. Armitage falls to her knee and she finally realizes that she has lost her friend for good as a result of her own ambition and selfishness. She realizes that Priss doesn't want this, "I tried... but you're still the same" and she, and the hopefully the audience, realize that the conflict she had tried so desperately to prevent was her own fault.
Armitage throws her jacket/cloak/thing away, freeing Priss metaphorically, and releases her wings. She flies away, leaving Priss to do what she wishes with her life.
Priss is still pissed. Afterall, you can't just mold someone and ditch them if they don't turn out like you want them to. Priss loses the last bit of herself to her suit and combines with her motorcycle, transforming into a machine capable of pursuing the one who did this to her. The two then do battle on a grand scale, each firing and dodging the other until the final scene where everything stops with the music.
So then you ask me "Um, what the hell?" Well, if you've seen the actual music video to My Favorite Game, the FULL one, you know that it ends with the singer who has dodged vehicles and other obstacles while driving recklessly in her convertable finally hitting something, flying through the air, and crashing onto the concrete dead. Thats just where the song ends, abrupt and unsettling. Who wins the fight, the angel who has finally let go of the one that she had imprisoned and flown away in search of forgiveness or the vengeful slave to her own machine? Heh, use your imagination, because I'm not telling.
This music video was made using the avisynth/vob file method. Adobe Premiere and Adobe Photoshop played equally important roles here, as a good third of the video is doctored in some way via Adobe Photoshop and everything is obviously put together with Adobe Premiere. Also, I want to say that Adobe Premiere is a real bastard when you load it up with the vob files from 8 different dvds at once. Seriously, I actually flicked the program off at least twice for every time it crashed on me. My middle finger is now almost as athletic as my gamer thumbs. All in all this project consumed nearly 40 gigabytes of my hard drive from start to finish, 33ish of which were the dvd rips and the rest came in the form of temp files, exports, and the Ragnarok Online that I downloaded to play while Premiere rendered things. Yes, you CAN run the two programs at once, no thats not where my stability went, yes, Ragnarok Online saved my sanity while I waited for things to render, and yes, I DID raise a powerful character as a result of the time spent rendering this music video. Sad, isn't it?
-----A Final Message
At the end of the music video, you'll notice an ad for the webcomic Noble Vitae. This is run by my friends, I'm actually on the staff as well, and its a very good webcomic. There is also a written text of publishable quality available for free on the website and a community accepting of anyone with an open mind and the desire to share ideas. The website is linked in my profile and I strongly urge you to visit it. It has a little something for everyone and you won't regret it.