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Nine Inch Nails Ghosts Film Festival

April 10, 2008

Neil’s Blog Entry

In a video posted on YouTube a while ago, an interesting proposition was made by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails regarding his latest album, Ghosts. He said, “To expand the idea of the Ghosts project, Nine Inch Nails is inviting anyone and everyone to create visuals to accompany the album’s music. In a few months, we’ll be gathering the entries we feel are particularly exceptional and highlighting them.”

Whaaa? Nine Inch Nails wants me to make a video? Well, Sir, yes Sir!

I picked the first two tracks on the album… originally I had only picked the first track, but upon further listening, I realized that the first track seemlessly went right into the second. There was something about the vibe of those two songs that I really responded to.

I decided that I wasn’t going to tell a story or anything like that. The songs, to me, are all atmosphere and mood, so I wanted to create a film that was of the same stuff. You look at the finished film and you might say, “Who’s that girl supposed to be? Is she a ghost? Is she the physical representation of the director’s angst over the misunderstanding of reality or perhaps his misery over some old unrequited love?” Not a clue. It’s really up to you to decide. Fill in the blanks. Write your own story. I’m just providing the mood.

So anyway, Laura and I shot the video over a four-day period. She dressed up all black and gothy for me and we went over to a nearby park. The shots were very simple, because I knew I was going to do a lot of post-production on them to get the erie, moody look I wanted.

This was done by compositing several layers of the footage in After Effects. I started with the original footage and then added an overall blur effect to it. I then put a matte onto a new layer of footage. This created an area of selective focus… where one part of the image is clear and all around it is all fuzzy. I then layered yet another piece of the footage on top of this. But I altered the timing of the footage so that it made a slight echo of the image over time. This is kind of hard to explain in words, but once you see the final film, you’ll see what I’m saying. Finally, I added several layers of coloring effects over everything. The end result is very colorful and yet at the same time very dark and moody. Exactly what I was seeing in my head. Below are a couple of images to show you the process.

Here’s another example:

I don’t know exactly what will happen to the videos once this thing is over. Mr. Reznor said that he’s not even sure what the final purpose of this will be. Perhaps a DVD of Ghosts with his favorite entries… perhaps as projections in some future live performance of Ghosts. Or maybe they’ll just end up taking space on Mr. Reznor’s laptop from now till the end of time. Who knows? All I know is that we had fun making this film and I hope you all enjoy it.

Still with no pithy catchphrase,

If you’d like to view other entries in the film festival, they can be found here.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2008 2:11 pm

    Too right! Gothy, dark, spooky and atmospheric. Goes brilliantly with the track, well done.

  2. April 18, 2008 8:03 pm

    It’s simply stunning! I really liked it 🙂

  3. April 18, 2008 8:46 pm

    Andrew and Nessa,
    Thanks for the nice comments!

  4. April 23, 2008 11:56 pm

    Hey Neil! Congratulations! This is the best one I’ve seen so far in this NIN Festival. It really captured the music’s mood and the way I feel when I listen to it. Keep up the good work!

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