Music videos, as a medium, are defined by their polish. Every performer is immaculately styled, every shot is planned with care. And even those clips that buck the trend and purport to take us behind the scenes, like Michael Jackson’s clip for "Liberian Girl," are clearly the products of careful choreography. The new interactive video from the indie outfit Tanlines, however, is actually rough, and it really does take us behind the scenes—right into a Photoshop-style piece of editing software.
The video, created by the New York-based creative outfit OK Focus in conjunction with The Creators Project, takes the form of an interactive website where viewers can direct the video as it plays. You can add, move, and resize individual band members, and put them against a variety of backgrounds, from a breezy beach to the planet Saturn. Rock stars are always hanging out on Saturn.
The results may be rough, visually, but that’s part of the fun. And in terms of the interactions—moving the various versions of the two members of Tanlines as they play—everything is surprisingly smooth. "Making it functional was very important to us," says Ryder Rypps, one of the founders of OK Focus. "We wanted the site to have minimal handholding, leaving only a bare inviting interface, instead of an instruction manual. Making something 'feel smooth’ is one of the many things that goes into creating an intuitive UI without a rubric."
The project definitely offers a new take on the music video, at least in terms of where the authorial power lies. Now if they’d only add a button to let me drop in a crop of Whoopi from "Liberian Girl."