Sunday, May 4, 2008

Progress(?) in videos

A-Ha - Take On Me (Video)

Madonna - 4 Minutes

Two music videos, both concerning a couple in peril, both using state-of-the-art special effects. One is 23 years old, by a group that essentially had only that one hit in the United States. The other is new, by three of the biggest names in music.

By any measure, the second, 4 Minutes by Madonna, should be far more successful. We should marvel at the modern effects, made possible by modern computing power. The first, Take On Me by the Norwegian group a-ha, should seem crude in comparison.

So why does the Take On Me video seem so much fresher? It uses rotoscoping, the same technique used in those peculiar commercials of Charles Schwab. In effect, the animator draws over a filmed image to create near-real animation.

On the other hand, 4 Minutes uses CGI to depict a strange flesh-eating crystalline distortion of reality that is sweeping across the world. It features a rap by producer-of-the-moment Timbaland, followed by singing and dancing from Madonna and Justin Timberlake.

Yet I find Take On Me far more satisfying. Perhaps it is due to the happy ending, the fresh-faced youth of Bunty Bailey and a-ha lead singer Morten Harket as opposed to the synth-heavy tune, the unnecessary Timbaland rap, and the ultimately nihilistic ending of 4 Minutes, but, for whatever reason, I just feel good after watching Take On Me.

Maybe the biggest difference, though, is that the earlier video tells a story, and the technology is used to serve that story. 4 Minutes, on the other hand, seems to have some kind of narrative, but it is buried under images and quick-cut Madonna/Timberlake dancing and some bizarre skin-flaying effects. One is left empty after watching four minutes that amount to nothing.

No comments:

Clicky Web Analytics