Paper cuts are making their way back home
February 21, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Josh Ritter's video for his new song, "Love is Making It's Way Back Home," was made from 12,000 construction paper cutouts, with zero post-production. A touch of making-of info here.
posted by switchsonic (19 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Its way home.
posted by Rash at 2:02 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

Arg. Please, could you note that it's a Vimeo video, for those of us who've had Vimeo blocked at work?
posted by LN at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2012

I apologize for the rash of grammar mistakes. As mentioned above, its. Also, the first line should be "The video for Josh Ritter's new song...", since what I wrote implies that he made the video himself.

*Tries to wipe egg off face: too much egg*
posted by switchsonic at 2:08 PM on February 21, 2012

I thought it said 'John Ritter". I was very "woah, that is impressive."
posted by stormpooper at 2:08 PM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've had the good fortune to spend time with Josh on two occasions - once interviewing him for a radio performance, and more recently introducing him on the stage at a one-man show. Aside from his brilliance as an artist - I think he is one of the great songwriters of our time, I really do - he is one of the sweetest, most genuine people I've ever met.

I don't know if it comes across in his music to the extent that it does in person, but he's like a great big kid, a big kinetic bundle of energy and sweetness and love. Gave me a hug when he saw me for the second time. I mentioned to him that "Lantern" is a song that my then-5-year-old daughter always asks to listen to at night, and it made him so happy. All night, it was, "Man, that's so cool, your daughter likes my song!", great big smile on his face. 100 percent genuine.

One more story: At the aforementioned radio performance, we had a small crowd in the audience (40-50 people). He stuck around and talked to each and every one of them, hugs all around, genuinely engaged in each and every conversation. I walked back into the studio where the rest of the band was sitting around, waiting for him to finish up. It looked like a familiar thing, from the looks on their faces. "Does he do this everywhere you guys go?" "Yeah, everywhere. Absolutely everywhere."

Typing this out, it feels like I may have said all this in a previous post about him. Whatever. tl;dr Josh is awesome, thank you for posting this, this is a day-one purchase for me.
posted by jbickers at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

The last 30 seconds is magnificent. Reminiscent of a great solitaire victory on an old Windows 3.1 machine, which then crashes and makes infinite copies of all running program windows as you drag them, which then seems more entertaining than anything you were actually trying to do on said machine (other than solitaire). Thanks!
posted by obscurator at 2:14 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

are magnificent..
posted by obscurator at 2:15 PM on February 21, 2012

That's a pretty generic song (sorry), but the animation is very cool. That said, why would there need to be any post in animation like this? Every frame is created individually, there's nothing to do in post.

I don't want to discount the time and effort that goes into animation, because it's a true skill, but that should be the selling point, not that it didn't need excessive post work. If I don't know what I'm talking about, please feel free to ridicule.
posted by Huck500 at 2:17 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, the lack of post-production work means that none of the cut-outs were doctored in Photoshop, and none of the transitions were lazily edited in, etc. It's proof of authenticity of the skill, I suppose.
posted by Phire at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2012

jbickers, I've had a similar experience with Josh. Me and a friend saw him give a book reading / impromptu performance when his novel came out last year. Afterwards, he stuck around, not just to sign the books, but to have a conversation with literally every single person who wanted to meet him. We were waiting for over two hours, and by the time we got to him, even though the store had long closed, we were near the end of the line, and he must've been exhausted, he still wanted to know all about us ("You're chemistry graduate students? Awesome!" And then he hugged each of us... for the third time in the meeting).
posted by switchsonic at 2:35 PM on February 21, 2012

Yay! Josh Ritter is one of my favorites, and I love animation. Two great tastes that are better together.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:36 PM on February 21, 2012

Saw him a few years ago in Calgary in Know United church downtown (great venue!) and it was an absolutely fantastic show. Just a great guy - very entertaining and enormously talented. An evening filled with fun and joy and great music.

I didn't know this was out, just went to iTunes and grabbed it. Thanks!
posted by jimmythefish at 2:42 PM on February 21, 2012

Oh, Bostonians this was made (or cut, rather) by the cool folks in Central Square Danger!Awesome!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2012

Such a neat video, especially (as obscurator says) the last 30 seconds or so. If you're interested in how they filmed it, there are some more details and production photos here.

They mention using a technique called strata-cut, which seems to be borrowed from the world of claymation. Here's a compilation of interesting strata-cut claymation examples.

The animators mention being inspired by the work of Jen Stark. She seems to do mostly strata-cut paper sculpture, although this video shows an animated clip that's similar to (albeit much more simple than) the end sequence in the Josh Ritter video.

Stark apparently cuts her work by hand, which both impresses me and causes me to wonder what her annual X-acto budget is. The Ritter video was mocked up in After Effects, and since the animators don't mention anything about wrist strain after cutting out each and every component of each and every frame, I'm guessing that the mockup was used to generate vector graphics files that were fed into a laser cutter...

Gosh, this is neat!
posted by compartment at 2:50 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

On (lack of) preview, thanks for confirming, Womble. Do you know anything more about the cutting process? Specifically, I was wondering whether someone had to hand-feed 12,000 pieces of construction paper into the laser cutter, or if many different frames were cut from a one gigantic piece of construction paper at a time. And if there's some kind of auto-feed mechanism for the paper stock.

This animation really trips my trigger. It's a cool process with a fantastic end result, and a great example of how animators can use computers in pre-production to create a finished product that looks natural/handmade/crafty.
posted by compartment at 2:59 PM on February 21, 2012

I saw Josh Ritter live completely by accident last summer. A friend invited me to the Appel Farm Festival, which is a folk thing, and which I'd heard as "apple farm festival" and assumed would involve lots of delicious fruit. But it was a free ticket and the music was a hell of a lot of fun, and by three or four in the afternoon I was delighted and exhausted and plopped down on a field with a very good book. I didn't even get up when Gogol Bordello played, which is crazy, because, come on, Gogol Bordello.

Anyway, Josh Ritter is my friend's absolute favorite ever musician. And she played a few tracks for me but nothing really sank in; he's a good poppy folk songwriter, but there's nothing that immediately distinguishes him from other poppy folk songwriters. I didn't quite get the appeal. So I'm sitting front-and-left-stage, so I can talk to the friend as she takes pictures but still read, and Ritter comes out, and in a matter of seconds I'm up and dancing with the rest of the crowd, because Josh Ritter radiates joy like no other musician I've ever seen play. I don't think he stopped smiling once during the entire performance; you could hear his sheer giddy bliss in his voice as he sang. And the whole band just ripped into the songs. It was one of the most infectious performances I've seen in my life.

After you see him live, you can feel that same giddiness in all his recorded music, almost see the smile on his face as he sings. He's a good songwriter, he's got a knack for words, but he wasn't anything wonderful until after I saw him play and knew what to listen for. He doesn't make a show out of his happiness or anything; it doesn't bother me the way Bruce Springsteen's style does, where the lyrics and production and performance all feel so calculated that it comes across as camp. It just sounds like a good band playing good music and having a great time, led by a singer who could not be happier doing what he does.

I get the same feeling from some of his music videos, this one included. There's impressive craftsmanship, but it feels like it's coming from people who have a lot of fun with their craft, and who really get a kick out of doing something good. Maybe it's the kind of music you have to hear live to click, but I'm glad that it did, because this is lovely. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:17 PM on February 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

Delightful! I feel better for having watched it. Thanks.
posted by minervous at 4:41 PM on February 21, 2012

Josh Ritter is immensely entertaining and his happiness on stage is infectious. I concur with everyone raving about his live shows.

Also: Seeing him live has turned me on to so many of his opening acts over the years. Justin Townes Earle, Dawn Landes (his wife at the time), Joe Pug and Sarah Harmer so far.
posted by emelenjr at 4:59 PM on February 21, 2012

Seconding (or thirding or whatever) Josh Ritter's amazingly infectious happiness on stage. He was just so darn happy on stage here in Ithaca, the one time I've seen him live - doing what he loved and soaking in the good vibes of the crowd and loving every moment. And he comes across as so genuinely grateful that people show up just to listen to his music.

emelenjr, Dawn Landes is his former wife? I've always wondered how artists can sing about new love and relationships and betrayals without it bleeding over into their personal life - I suppose that's one reason why many of them have ... complicated lives.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:08 AM on February 22, 2012

« Older Black and White and Surreal   |   When ODOT's not out plowing snow or repairing the... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments