Who Needs CGI?

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Who needs postproduction when you can achieve dazzling visuals right before your eyes? Just in the last week or so, we've seen a pair of music videos that achieved stunning imagery in camera, without the use of postproduction. Not that we're knocking the efforts of talented effects and post artistry, but some recent efforts have reminded us of the startling visuals that can be achieved on set.

Androp: Bright Siren

Japanese agency PARTY just launched this clip for Japanese band Androp. The group plays on stage while a dynamic, pixelated animation flashes around them. All the work, however, was done up front. PARTY co-founders Masashi Kawamura and Qanta Shimizu, who were also behind the innovative Sour interactive music videos like Mirror and Hibi no Niero, conceived a setup involving the flash bulbs of 250 Canon cameras, Arduino technology and OpenFrameworks to create the video's dancing backdrop of light.

Bell: Chase No Face

Just prior to that, we saw the release of Bell's "Chase No Face." A simple premise, really, with singer Olga Bell's face getting made up in various digital looks in camera, via technology that employed a Microsoft Kinect hack, an LED projector, a laptop and FaceTracker code from Jason Saragih. The video was created by Zach Lieberman, Francisco Zamorano, Andy Wallace, and Michelle Calabro.

Bell: Chase No Face Behind the Scenes


The recent efforts have inspired us to take some time out and highlight some other fine in-camera accomplishments. Of course, there are the various Rube Goldberg-themed efforts for the likes of OK Go and Honda. (Check out Adam Sadowsky, whose company Synn Labs created OK Go's contraption, speak at CaT here.)

Moray Maclaren: We Got Time

There's also this stunning film from a few years back for Moray Maclaren's "We Got Time," directed by David Wilson out of BlinkInk. Wilson crafted some hypnotic, meditative animations via a combination of turntables, praxinoscopes and his own illustrations.

Wilson had told Creativity in-camera work can rule over CG because "it gets the actors and crew excited to see things happening in front of their eyes and you get a much better reaction. And it's almost the things that go wrong that I like to embrace." During this particular shoot, "there would be a little jump where the mirrors weren't quite lined up perfectly or at the top of the mirros the image is bent and refracted a bit. And if you tried to make it look like that in CG, it just wouldn't look the same. "

Puma: Lift

On the spots front, Droga5 and MJZ director Rupert Sanders achieved quite the in camera feat on Puma "Lift," featuring a pair of dancers clothed in nothing but light projections. The effort utilized up to 20 projectors to shine outfits on the dancers, illustrate their "thoughts" and create an ever-shifting backdrop.

Puma: Lift -Making Of

One of the biggest obstacles on the shoot had to do with the "beam traffic" that resulted from all the projectors, which Sanders explains in his behind the scenes video here.

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

And, we dare not forget this bit of in-camera magic, from Wieden + Kennedy Portland and MJZ director Tom Kuntz, who says, "I just didn't want it to look post-y, so struggled to find a solution where I could do it in camera as much as possible." No Kinect hacks here, just some clever set design and camera work (and, perhaps, a lot of pushups).

Got any other fine pieces that should be added to the list? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

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