Article Title
Article Title

When Dreams Come True

by Brianne Mueller

As we recover from the holidays, The Inclusive will feature the best pieces from 2011. This gives you an opportunity to read some pieces you might not have otherwise seen, and it allows our staff to, y'know, hang out for a bit.

This piece was originally published October 6th. Staff writer Brianne Mueller dissects this breakthrough video that makes a bed more fun than anything I've ever done in it.

 

There are many ways to approach the making of the music video. Some use it as a performance venue, others take an abstract, non-narrative approach. Still others, such as folk singer Oren, treat it from the onset use the medium like a narrative short film narrative, which it tends to be organically. An Israeli-born folk singer, Lavie created only one studio album entitled Opposite Side of the Sea (2007) and accompanied its release with the single “Her Morning Elegance”.

Soon she's down the stairs / Her morning elegance she wears / The sound of water makes her dream / Awoken by a cloud of steam / She pours a daydream in a cup / A spoon of sugar sweetens up…”. Singer-songwriter and director of the video, Oren Lavie, takes this concept of dreaming quite literally and then puts a creative spin on it. The camera is placed directly over the bed of this elegant woman, played by actress Shir Shomron, and captures her movements in a dream-line state with still photography – a technique that's as old as the invention of the camera itself. The process was painstaking and required over 8 weeks of digital storyboarding and 48 full hours of shooting. Once the still images were captured in sequence, they were then compiled and assembled in video format to create the video’s flipbook-like effect. All in all, it took 2,096 original photographs to complete the video, all of which are available for purchase via an online gallery at www.HMEgallery.com.

The result, shown in this very original music video, is stunning. It received nearly 13 million views on YouTube within the first several months of its debut. It was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 and has received a dozen or so short film and animation awards at film festivals around the globe. To this day, it remains an internet sensation and continues to intrigue viewers and animators around the world. But why use stop-motion, you may ask? Arguable, it could have been easier to shoot the entire thing live and in real settings. Even some type of 2-D or 3-D animation in combination with live acting could have gotten similar results. Movies such as A Scanner Darkly (2006) and the award-winning Avatar (2009) use a combination of live action and then layer it with 3-D computer animation, a process known as "rotoscoping." Why use a sock as a fish instead of a real fish or an animated that yields a more realistic result?

There are several factors that contribute to the creative choices made, the first being the concept of dreams. Dreams are funny things. Scientists are continually studying our sleeping patterns, REM (or Rapid Eye Movement) cycles, and bodily functions during dreaming and non-dreaming states. They consist of a combination conscious and subconscious thoughts, lives, desires and fears. In addition, the physical environment we are sleeping in also affects our dreams. My brother once told me about a time where he was dreaming about purring snakes chasing him, only to discover upon awaking that our cat was sleeping next to his head. The reason why stop-motion is so effective is due to its ability to interpret real life objects as characters in the storyline. This gives the video more connection to reality, manipulating it into the whims of fantasy.

Similarly, the video integrates everyday bedroom items into the actress’s dream world. Pillows and blankets become steps, subway cars, and clouds, socks become fish; the literal becomes entangled within a world of imagination and fantasy. “And She fights for her life / As she puts on her coat / And she fights for her life on the train…”. Our protagonist braves the subway and jumps into oceans of blue blankets, all while our protagonist's eyes remain closed, clarifying her subconscious contribution to the surrounding events. On the other hand, her romantic interest, Oren Lavie, manifests with eyes wide open, often staring directly at the camera, distinguishing him as our narrator and indirect subject of the video. Together they dance, snuggle and even play dress up, which only further integrates consciousness and sub-consciousness until the lines become blurred. All of these elements contribute to the same goal of enlivening this dream world, while grounding the viewer in reality at the same time.

What’s more intriguing about the video is its use of space. The mattress doesn't just sit on a frame, it becomes one, framing all of the action that is to come. As the music video’s still camera remains stationary, the mattress acts as an extension of that camera lens by capturing action from multiple angles by turning its actors facing forward, on their sides, upside down, every which way. Even the actions out of frame are carefully calculated, such as the subject’s shoes, a lamp, and a book which are strategically placed on the floor beside the mattress. Every detail is carefully crafted in order to achieve the video’s overall effect, which requires careful coordination between all physical elements and seemingly endless amounts of patience.

Somehow greater than the production value of this music video is the artistic value created by this project. “Her Morning Elegance” is memorable, beautiful, and distinct. What’s more is that it allows us to be a part of this process by making the original still photographs available to the public. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a good idea becomes a great moneymaker as this did. Whether the memory of this video will last within the realm of the conscious world or not, its at least nice to know things such as clouds made of pillows and blanket-subway cars are at least alive and well in our dreams.

Bri Mueller is a life-long music enthusiast with a recent passion for film. An aspiring music video director, she is a theatre arts major (Psychology minor) from Lawrence University, currently employed as a Marketing Coordinator. Bri enjoys gluten-free brownies, parenthetical phrases and rock 'n' roll. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Daniele Teodoro. Contact Bri at bri.mueller[at]theinclusive.net.