Digital Acid
February 11, 2009 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Chairlift - Evident Utensil (SLYT) Trippy music video made by messing with video compression keyframes.
posted by fungible (52 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
This is like a three minute long lesson of what not to do in After Effects.
posted by clearly at 8:52 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

What was the original video codec? The chroma distortion reminds me of certain incorrectly cut MPEG-4 ASP encodes (Stream with b-frames, cut on B- or P-frame) but I'm not sure.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:59 PM on February 11, 2009

What a great frikkin idea. Thanks!
posted by dbiedny at 9:01 PM on February 11, 2009

I actually know the people from Chairlift. Nice people. They throw damn good parties. This video kinda reminds me of one of them. Cool.
posted by spicynuts at 9:03 PM on February 11, 2009

I think the more advanced codecs estimate better - it looks a bit like careful 3d motion tracking at times. It's also sorta like some keyframes were removed, with the video continuing from the previous interpolated frames.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:06 PM on February 11, 2009

I've accidentally made this exact music video like 80 times before in the encoding process, and now you tell me it's hip? Christ.
posted by potch at 9:07 PM on February 11, 2009 [9 favorites]

This makes it very hard to get a good look at the singer.

What? Like there's any other reason for a band to be in it's own video other than to show off the singer.
posted by scope the lobe at 9:09 PM on February 11, 2009

Dammit. That was my idea. And I was like this || far from learning an instrument, starting a band, getting a contract and making this exact video. And my song would have had a lot more banjo.
posted by hifimofo at 9:14 PM on February 11, 2009

I promise you, I am not saying this for dramatic effect.

That video make me nauseated. It was fucking disorienting.
posted by orville sash at 9:22 PM on February 11, 2009

So everyone is afraid to admit that they've seen this effect before-- in poorly ripped porn, when they used the scrubber to hurry up to the good parts?

Come on! It's awesome! It's like one those things from "The Abyss" is giving a T-1000 a hummer.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:23 PM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

This is something that someone gets to do ONCE on purpose and it's very cool but after that it's not cool anymore, like signing your name on a pisser and calling it art.

Having tripped quite a few times and having watched digital videos fuck up quite a few times, when you end up watching a digital video and seeing this happen as an accident while you're tripping, shit's trippy as fuck.
posted by Sockpuppet For Naughty Things at 9:24 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

The really clever thing about this is the way they use it to make frequent jump-cuts seamless — the end of a scene is used as a keyframe for the next one, and movement in the new scene gradually displaces the old blocks.

It's best in the scenes where they cut from a closeup of one singer to a different person, but without updating the frame at all — initially the new face is skinned with that of the last person's, which is gradually replaced as the new person moves. Then they do it all over again!

They use a few other effects, like cheesy goo warping and post-production 'camera' movement, but they're almost unnecessary with the awesomeness of the artifact cut, and detract from its 'accidental' quality.
posted by blasdelf at 9:34 PM on February 11, 2009 [7 favorites]

Looks like some ancient DivX 3 videos I have on ancient degrading CD-Rs. That's the first time I've seen anyone do this on purpose for effect, though. Pretty cool idea, although the song is pretty annoying.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:49 PM on February 11, 2009

It freezes on the first frame for me. Does anyone have a version in something other than .flv?
posted by LogicalDash at 9:55 PM on February 11, 2009

Skin flicks + this compression effect + last third of Fleetwood Mac's "Big Love" = a trippy blend for all of you who were kids in the 80s
posted by crapmatic at 10:03 PM on February 11, 2009

How would one go about doing this on purpose? It's a nifty effect and I would like to overuse it, because I can't afford enough cameras to do that Matrix thing.

no seriously, I actually am curious how it was done
posted by ook at 10:19 PM on February 11, 2009

This is like a three minute long lesson of what not to do in After Effects.

Dude, open your mind
posted by god particle at 10:26 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Exactly this effect occurred during the broadcasts from a now defunct TV station in my corner of the world: a scene would change, and the outline of the figures in the new scene would be filled with pixels from the last. So that's what was going on. It's fascinating, but when it happens simply out of nowhere... *shudders*.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:34 PM on February 11, 2009

This is the worst Bjørk cover ever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 PM on February 11, 2009

Enjoyed it a lot, especially as someone who's seen a lot of old Scanimate stuff from the 1970s (a system that was quite adept at creating off-the-cuff effects). If you all have recommendations for similar cool or trippy videos, post em pleeeze! I want to see more of this stuff.
posted by crapmatic at 10:49 PM on February 11, 2009

Oh hey! There is a higher rez version is here.

I went to college with the guys who made this video. They've formed a film collective, and are slowly taking over the world. They make some awesomely weird movies (they were also responsible for that that MGMT video referenced here

My absolute favorite of their films is this one.
posted by geryon at 10:54 PM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Neat-o. So for anybody who isn't sure how this works: video codecs like MPEG-4 use motion compensation to cut down on the bit rate. Only a few keyframes of the video are encoded in full, about one every few seconds; the rest ("predicted" frames) store a rough estimate of how much each block of pixels has shifted since the previous frame, along with just enough actual pixels to make up the difference between the estimate and the real picture. So if there's a single moving object on a static background, all that needs to be stored is the area of the background that's been uncovered since the previous frame.

In this case, what I suspect they did is encode their raw video clips with no keyframes (except the very first one), then spliced them together, so the decoder applies the motion vectors to the wrong original image. It looks like they also duplicated the same frame several times in some places, to get those swirls of color.
posted by teraflop at 11:11 PM on February 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

Amazingly great to watch.
posted by flatluigi at 11:28 PM on February 11, 2009

See, I was guessing that they either
* encoded it, then edited the file by copying & moving keyframes
* used a player or filter that let them selectively ignore some keyframes
I remember seeing someone edit motion compensation vectors to animate a JPEG with swirling movement, without using a compressor. I think that was MPEG-1. I wonder how complex the bytestream is for MPEG-4.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:07 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I remembered a previous video that used corrupted video artifacts: The Presets, Are you the One. Warning: Creepy guy.

I'm curious what this video looks like backwards.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:31 AM on February 12, 2009

It's called datamoshing, as experimented by paperrad, explored by Takeshi Murata, and theorised by Sven König. (Yeah, teraflop and Pronoiac, it's basically about key- and delta-frames.)

The Chairlift video was directed by Ray Tintori, incidentally. (Here's a more manageable HD mp4, though geryon's .mov is best to immerse yourself fully in its pixel maelstrom.)

[aside: why's it folks so rarely add a little research&value to FPPs anymore?]

König has set up an interesting appropiration site/service that automates repurposing found footage (note: his definition of "found" includes p2p): Download Finished.
posted by progosk at 12:52 AM on February 12, 2009 [7 favorites]

I just realized that a lot of the effects I thought were independent were actually a direct result of keyframe removal. The camera-like pans over the artifacted frame are because of motion compensation. The fractal repetition like the head turning at 1:10 is just short loops where the keyframe at the beginning of the loop is removed.

There are some things that are definitely not from the datamoshing, like the compositing at 2:00 — if they had done that cut with artifacting, her stationary torso wouldn't have been revealed and we wouldn't get to see her weird boob-harness outfit.

Another lovely detail is that the lower-resolution "iPod version" has different artifacts! It was made by downscaling the resolution before removing the keyframes and doing the post-production.

The high-res version scaled down looks like ass because the block size for the compression artifacts doesn't make sense anymore.
posted by blasdelf at 1:43 AM on February 12, 2009

Another lovely detail is that the lower-resolution "iPod version" has different artifacts!

erm... I'm not finding those. Any specific examples you could point me to?
posted by progosk at 2:01 AM on February 12, 2009

Looking at this on my mobile device, it wasn't notable that this video was posted as a reply, so the thread for me didn't go back any further than waxy.

The backwards video is ... brain-melting. When it's done encoding, it'll show up here.

I hadn't realized there were different versions for different resolutions. It's the Youtube 1280x720 version from the posted link, downsized to DV, reversed, then encoded to mpeg-4.

As I waited for that to upload, I kicked off an HD encode. I'll post that in the morning.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:56 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The backwards video is ... brain-melting really quite similar to the original, probably more so than most videos.

(fixed that for you.)
posted by progosk at 3:28 AM on February 12, 2009

I had to stop watching after a minute due to a combination of, "oh, that's clever, now it's just boring" and "wish this innovative video came with a decent song."
posted by explosion at 3:40 AM on February 12, 2009

sorry to say this is an intensely boring song.
the visuals don't make up for that.
posted by Substrata at 3:56 AM on February 12, 2009

Amazing - I've seen my mom's face do this when we have a bad connection on video chat, but to think of doing this deliberately for a music video is genius.

Also, the lead singer is teh hawt.
posted by kcds at 3:57 AM on February 12, 2009

As unwatchable as the deliberate "fuzzing" of audio is unlistenable.
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on February 12, 2009

Seems gimmicky. I did like the Court 13 MGMT vids, though.
posted by orme at 4:58 AM on February 12, 2009

That was a really long 2 minutes and 53 seconds. It would have been more effective if they'd used the effects for about 1/3 of that video and let us actually see the band for the rest.
posted by octothorpe at 5:07 AM on February 12, 2009

Y'all are nerds. I know I'm new here, and will get flamed or banned or whatevery y'all doo to noobs, but when I watched that the first thing I though was not how did they do that, or what codec got mixed up or the key-commands in after effects to do this, but instead "I just look down to find the most evident utensil". Sure I get it. It reminds me of watching scrambled porn, or trying to embed a video in my first blog. neat.
posted by eHegwer at 5:18 AM on February 12, 2009

awesome, but too soon. My brain kept thinking it actually WAS a crappy encode.
posted by condour75 at 5:41 AM on February 12, 2009

Guys, I miss college.
posted by The Whelk at 6:48 AM on February 12, 2009

This is the worst Bjørk cover ever.

Nein. Not Bjørk, but The Knife. I almost laughed my face off when the guy came in with the low silly-sounding vocal, which is exactly what my male friend sounds like when he imitates the low vocals in The Knife (who are an astounding group).

Bit of The Knife trivia: the vocals in The Knife that you've always assumed was the guy, Olaf, singing? That's the sister, Karin, using an old cheap Boss octave jobbie. Totally fucked up my world when I heard that.

I don't mean to be a hater; I actually think the song is pretty catchy. And the video is, indeed, trippy as hell.
posted by nosila at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2009

The video? Like a stop-motion acid trip. I enjoyed watching the faces pop up out of the clothing etc.

The song? What you'll hear getting your dental work done six months from now.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:18 AM on February 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I accidentally did this a few weeks ago: [nsfw]warning highly pornographic[/nsfw]
posted by tehloki at 9:19 AM on February 12, 2009

Dude... trippy...
posted by Drasher at 10:53 AM on February 12, 2009

This is really nice at times, especially when there's a fade which leaves remnants lingering in the foreground, it creates an alternate depth of field. I don't like it so much when it's just lo-fi pixel burst, it seems like overkill.
posted by multivalent at 1:03 PM on February 12, 2009

I'll jump in to supplement the rest of the "seen it/done it already" folks with a video that my friend Nick did four or five years ago. I've been wondering since then when a more visible artist would use the broken motion-compensation thing.
posted by drumcorpse at 4:08 PM on February 12, 2009

tehloki - Weird. That's not meant to be audio-only, right?
posted by Pronoiac at 1:27 AM on February 13, 2009

Pronoiac: try playing it in VLC. It's a file I was downloading off bittorrent and lost all seeds about 85% of the way through, rendering all the compression keyframes useless.
posted by tehloki at 10:45 AM on February 13, 2009

I'll keep that in mind. Usually, mplayer's really good at reading incomplete files, just not this time.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:53 AM on February 13, 2009

Kanye rips off something else

film at 11
posted by tehloki at 9:05 PM on February 17, 2009

This is something that someone gets to do ONCE on purpose and it's very cool but after that it's not cool anymore, like signing your name on a pisser and calling it art.

Too late:

Kanye rips off something else

Now that it's been officially played out, maybe someone will figure out a way to do this so it looks like a real texture morph instead of a macroblocked mess.
posted by morganw at 4:35 PM on February 18, 2009

detailed explanations from all concerned.
posted by progosk at 12:36 AM on February 20, 2009

progosk's link covers the Kanye video. Their technique is weak.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:11 AM on February 20, 2009

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