You know that expression, “undressing me with his eyes?” It does zero justice to Fitz and the Tantrums’ latest video, Out of My League. As lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick’s smoldering irises stare through your laptop screen, he’ll melt the buttons off your shirt.
During my first view, I was taken back. I’d just seen the band perform this very single in concert at a tiny shoebox of a venue in Chicago, mere feet from the stage. It was a transcendental experience--one of those moments at a concert where the whole band and crowd seem to merge. Yet this video, with its hyperreal sharpness--right down to Fitz’s five o’clock shadow--is almost pornographically intimate. At best it’s cheesy, at worst, it’s shamelessly narcissistic. What were they thinking?
And then, as the video progresses, that sharpness melts away into a murky flood of polygons. What seemed so tangible for a moment becomes a fuzzy memory. The lyrics seem to merge with the visuals: “… you were more than just a dream.” I realize I like this video quite a lot. And then I watch it again.
The project was directed by Jordan Bahat, and the polygonal effect may be something you recognize, as it was largely made possible by the RGBD system (a Kinect merged with an SLR camera) that we’ve written about before.
“I come from a more traditional narrative background, but something in the technology really excited me. It’s like DIY punk VFX,” Bahat tells Co.Design. “Structurally, I wanted to start with our most clean material (the practical green screen footage) and slowly devolve into a more ‘digital’ world.”
That digital world was full of aesthetics that didn’t quite make the cut. Bahat had actually assembled three Kinect/SLR rigs to create a full, 3-D environment. But ultimately, he just couldn’t pull off the stunt for the final video. That failure left the figures unfinished and often stretching into oblivion--a hallmark of RGBD that’s actually intriguing in its own way.
“So often the strange artifacts it creates remind me of old video games I used to play with my brother growing up in the '80s and early '90s. Like when a game would freeze or glitch or when you tried to walk a character off the game-map,” Bahat writes. “Whereas the last Fitz and the Tantrums record was heavily influenced by Motown, this latest record is quite deeply rooted in the sounds of the '80s. So the aesthetic of RGBD felt complementary to the sounds in the song.”
Of course you may disagree. You may hate the visuals. And you may even hate the song. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, well, Bahat says it best:
“Fitz’ sexy eyes are very seductive. I definitely had to take a cold shower after the shoot.”
The new Fitz and the Tantrums album is out today.