Jason Willis

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Hal­loween” by Kay Lande and Wade Den­ning — iPhone/Hipstamatic Stop Motion Video

Note, this post also (per­haps more con­tex­tu­ally) appears on my Scar Stuff blog.

Visit the offi­cial Golden Records Face­book Page for a free down­load of the “Hal­loween” MP3! It’s a “Lim­ited Time Only” type deal so act fast!

Hey every­one, it’s great to see you all again! I cer­tainly hope that the last year has treated you kindly and that you’re all doing well in your var­i­ous crypts, lairs & decay­ing manors.

Okay, okay — let’s get down to busi­ness, huh? Octo­ber is finally here and that means it’s time for another one of my annual “Hal­loween projects that I’m using as an excuse to try new stuff” posts. Yeah! All right!

Since I fig­ured that what­ever I did would be unlikely to match the over-the-topness of last year’s Eerie Publications/ Johnson-Smith “Hor­ror Record” mashup (and let me just pause here to say that the reac­tion to that video was absolutely mind-blowingly amaz­ing to me. Tweeted by Harry Knowles! Cham­pi­oned by Poi­son Ivy! Played in-house at the Alamo Draft­house and Cine­fam­ily the­aters! I don’t think I could ever have pre­dicted such an awe­some col­lec­tion of responses for some­thing so replete with sev­ered heads and werewolf-on-vampire gore, so thanks again one and all) — wait, where was I? Oh yeah — since I doubted I could mimic THAT vibe, this year I decided to try and take things in a less grue­some direc­tion by giv­ing myself a project that might teach me a few new tricks while simul­ta­ne­ously pay­ing homage to another (and slightly more kid-friendly) cor­ner of my men­tal Hal­loween time-machine brain.

I’m sure that by now most of you have come to the same con­clu­sion as me: time to make a stop motion video for one of my favorite child­hood songs and shoot the whole thing using an iPhone and the “Hip­sta­matic” photo app. Perfect!

Okay so here, (if you’re inter­ested that is) is way too much info around what that lit­tle story looked like:

Choos­ing the song was actu­ally easy enough — ever since I was 5 or so I’ve been in love with the Kay Lande and Wade Den­ning “Hal­loween: Games, Songs and Sto­ries” record (here’s my Scar Stuff write up from March of 2006), and as far as children’s Hal­loween tunes go I think the open­ing track comes pretty damn close to per­fec­tion. So yeah — song: check.

The deci­sion to use the iPhone actu­ally took me a bit longer to get to, but it made total sense thanks to some evolv­ing pat­terns in my cre­ative projects/art/WhateverYouWannaCallIt over the last year or so. Basi­cally I’ve been play­ing with the idea of using my phone as a kind of cre­ative Swiss Army Knife; shoot­ing video of ran­dom events so I can do more edit­ing, get­ting reac­quainted with the idea of always hav­ing a cam­era around, and gen­er­ally just try­ing to approach every day as hav­ing the poten­tial to become a document-able project of some sort (the results aren’t always pretty, but now and then I will post exam­ples over at my JasonWillis.com site.)

In par­tic­u­lar I found that I was hav­ing a lot of fun using the Hip­stamtic photo app on my phone, and quickly enough my to-do list became rife with time-draining ideas like “Grid­sta­matic Col­lages” (which are cubist type grids com­posed of mul­ti­ple square images that kinda-sorta form a whole when taken in at once, some­times in con­junc­tion with a hard­ware acces­sory like the macro Ollo­Clip lens [also used here in the Hal­loween video]), and “Tuc­son Motels Are Anx­ious for Your Patron­age” (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like).

So all that was miss­ing was the styl­is­tic com­po­nent, and since I-have-always-loved-but-have-never-done-any-stop-motion, I finally decided to mix every­thing together and give this combo of ele­ments a shot (well, more like sev­eral thou­sand shots). I started out with a few crude photo tests in the sec­ond week of Sep­tem­ber, and just last night I man­aged to export the com­plete mess via Final Cut Pro. It was a lit­tle more inten­sive that I thought it would be (see the “Post Mortem” below), but I gen­uinely had a great time and I truly hope that you guys dig the results.

And hey — Happy Hal­loween everyone!

Post mortem:

This project was a huge amount of fun, but it was also just WAY the hell more work than I thought it would be. In fact to all you pro­fes­sional stop motion folks let me just say: Holy Crap! You are clearly wired with much more patience than I am. Wow.

Another thing that I didn’t really fac­tor in is that the Hip­stamtic app can only (cur­rently) process a max­i­mum of 9 pho­tos dur­ing any given stretch. That cer­tainly slowed some image cap­ture ses­sions down but to be hon­est those pauses were usu­ally pretty help­ful because I ALSO needed way more time to build the lit­tle char­ac­ters, props & envi­ron­ments for every scene in here than I had ini­tially envi­sioned. Obvi­ously I need to work on both my time esti­mate and time man­age­ment skills.

Still, and with all of that said, I’d totally do it again. The end result is almost exactly what I hoped it would be: a mish­mash of styles, aes­thet­ics and tech­niques, all wrapped up in a 60’s-70’s home-movie vibe. I had fun, I learned a huge amount, and I had a good excuse to buy a whole bunch of cheesy Hal­loween toys. All in all I’d call that a pretty win/win/win sce­nario; I heartily rec­om­mend that any­one so inclined give it a try.

And finally, if you’d like to check out some uncropped stills (and all of my Hip­sta­matic set­ting details), below is a gallery of images rep­re­sent­ing each video seg­ment, along with some behind-the-scenes type jive. Most of my favorite Hip­stamtic com­bos make an appear­ance, and this project even helped me cipher out a few new ones that I really liked. Hooray!

Exter­nal link to Flickr set.

Down­load­able Vimeo version:

“Hal­loween” by Kay Lande and Wade Den­ning — iPhone + Hip­sta­matic Stop Motion from Jason Willis on Vimeo.