Behind the Work: C-Mon & Kypski "More is Less"

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Graphic designer Jonathan Puckey and director/designer Roel Wouters, the latter who's repped out of Nexus and whom you might remember from this Saatchi-showcase featured video zZz is playing: Grip, recently built on a rejected concept for a Basement Jaxx video to create this interactive, crowd-sourced clip More is Less, for C-Mon & Kypski, off the band's We Are Square album. Like Sour's Hibi no Neiro, the clip incorporates multiple people shot with a webcam. But unlike the Sour video, which was strictly choreographed and cast, the Puckey and Wouters clip uses crowdsourcing and taps an unknown group of players to create an organic piece that evolves by the hour as visitors contribute new frames.

How the clip looked early on:

Puckey shared with Creativity the behind the clip.

How did you get involved in this project? Did you plan to involve the audience from the get go?

We pitched an idea for a video for Basement Jaxx featuring iconic images of people taking photos of themselves in the mirror and having their flash go off by accident. (Move your mouse over the image when it's done loading). Since the idea was rather complicated, it didn't go ahead, even though we still like it, and we rethought it completely for C-Mon & Kypski.

We shot a very quick video of Roel dancing and we set up the first version of the system in a day and had our friends on Facebook copy Roel's poses. We applied for funding from a Dutch subsidy giver called TAXfonds, who turned us down at first. The band was so enthusiastic about the idea that they forced us to try again, and we finally got the funding to be able to pay for the production of the video.

Technically, what were the biggest challenges of this project?

Too many to mention really. Technology has endless possibilities but can also go wrong in endless ways. We're getting used to butting our head into the wall, hacking things together until they finally work.

You used a crowdsourding tool, Crowdflower, for this project, right? Why did you decide to use this particular tool? Were there any others you were considering?

Yes, we needed to be able to check the quality of the submissions 24/7 because of the international nature of the audience. Crowdflower has an international workforce which is able to do this task for us automatically. Every time someone takes a picture, Crowdflower requests a number of opinions from their workers on the quality of the image. We have worked with Amazon Mechanical Turk in the past, but Crowdflower was able to offer us far better quality control.

What are your thoughts on interactive music videos in general? We've been noticing a lot of interesting work in that area in the past couple years. Are you excited about doing more work like this—is there a lot of potential in this area?

When it comes to potential, yes there is and we're very excited about it all. We had nightmares about this project. What if the question was too difficult? What if nobody would want to do it? We've been reloading the One Frame of Fame website every five minutes like excited little kids, admiring the creativity of the users and the interesting places that they shot there frames at—including one person in a hospital bed). We're very thankful to everyone who took part.

What did you learn from this particular project? Would you do anything differently if you had to start over?

We didn't expect people to put as much effort into their poses as they do. We were expecting at least 50% of the frames to be unusable. Currently 90% of the people are doing their very best at following the instructions. Also, we were expecting it to be two or three weeks to fill up all the frames. It took us only two days.

What are both of you working on right now? Anything interesting coming up?

We're both part of a group called Conditional Design and are in the middle of preparations for an exhibition at the Graphic Design Museum in Breda, the Netherlands. Together with Luna Maurer and Edo Paulus we wrote the Conditional Design manifesto and we do weekly mini workshops investigating process based approaches to art and design. For the exhibition we programmed the iSight cameras in our Macbook Pro's to take a picture of us every five minutes whenever we have our laptops open. The exhibition will be a documentation of six months of photos from the four of us as seen from the point of view of our laptops. Hopefully patterns will emerge.

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