Monday, January 21, 2013

Michel Gondry and "Come Into My World" (2002)

Dennis Muren said, the problem with special effects is that it is not special anymore.

Although true, there are a few cases in which raw talent can take an old idea and make it new again. These talented people are so annoying that they may show off more than once and do several brilliant films in a row thus making themselves all the more hated by the rest of us.

Michel Gondry is such an annoyant (1) that he has done at least three of my favorite music videos (aka music promos) of all time, and all three are among my favorite short films.  We discuss "Come Into My World" here and the other two, "Let forever be", and "Like a Rolling Stone", another day.

Four Kylies and one Gondry showing off in Come Into My World (2002).  In the terminology of Zoologists and Bird Watchers, I believe that Ms. Kylie here can be said to be "displaying".

Unusually for the genre, the first minute of this four minute piece is a complete setup and doesn't reveal what is really going on until 1:07.    The first time I saw Come Into My World (2002), I innocently watched it, wondering what was great about this, "So she is walking around in a city in Europe somewhere.  So what?"  Then boom, at 1:07 the second Kylie picks up her dry cleaning and I thought to myself:  Wait, stop that, what just happened?

Even more astonishing, this tour de force of special effects takes place without a single giant robot or exploding zombie.  How could that be?

Things to look for as you refresh your memory about this film include (a) who drops and who picks up the pink shirt and how many pink shirts are there by the end, (b) the additions each time around of colorful people in the background, e.g. how many beds are thrown out of windows, how many skateboarders, how many men in blue putting up posters, how many balancing boys in green, how many men arriving at a hotel, how many hostesses in blue leaving a note on the windshield of a car, how many people in red on ladders, etc, (c) the strategy for keeping the various Kylie's out of each other's way, (d) what the layered matte strategy must have been, and (e) do any of the Kylie's intersect, and if so, is it Kylie that intersects or the dry cleaning she is carrying? (2)

For those of you who are mathematically inclined, you may wish to contemplate how many times Kylie has to run around the block.   Poor girl, she was probably getting dizzy.

Finally, we may ask if there is some relationship between the audio layering of Kylie (other Kylie's are at various time layered on top of the main Kylie in the audio domain, e.g. she is her own chorus as well as responding to herself) and the layering of Kylies in the image domain.

At this point, the number of hostesses in blue and guys in red have multiplied to four

Students of the history of this technology will note the amazing difference in the capability between modern compositing and the original chemical blue screen process, as discussed in my previous post on Bye Bye Birdie here, in which a major point of discussion was the issue of a moving camera and the special restrictions on blonde and red hair.  Here we have a completely free camera and a lot of dirty blonde hair, and its not a problem.  Actually, a better way to put it is that here we have an avalanche of moving camera and a tsunami of flying blonde hair and it looks effortless.

Come Into My World on Youtube:

Then after watching the film, you may wish to watch the making of documentary, below. Its up to you, I like it just the way it is and have a pretty good idea how it was done.

Raw talent, that's how.

In this case, I recommend not watching the documentary, however, but create your own plan on how you would make the film.   How you would cue the extras, how you would keep the Kylie's out of each other way (One might put a chalk mark on the ground for the path each Kylie should take with a different color for which cycle we are on (3), for example).

Making of "Come Into My World"


1. We are proud at Global Wahrman to premiere a new word in the English Language. "Annoyant" means someone who annoys.

2. The answer is yes, I think so, maybe twice that I noticed a Kylie intersects with herself and I think there are times when the laundry will intersect, but they don't call attention to themselves and it all works fine, I think.

3. I haven't found them yet, but I am still looking.

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