Music Video's Expanding Palette, Influence

By Pizzello, Stephen | American Cinematographer, February 1992 | Go to article overview

Music Video's Expanding Palette, Influence


Pizzello, Stephen, American Cinematographer


Over the past decade, music videos have been transformed from simple promotional perks into a powerful industry unto themselves. In the early years of video production, a clip would generally consist of a band miming to its new single. As the format gradually became more artistic and expansive, cinematography took on added importance. Eye-catching visuals became the name of the game. Imaginative directors of photography willing to experiment flourished.

Performers who embraced the new art form soon found their fortunes rising. During the formative years of music video, the most successful video-oriented artists included pop group Duran Duran, whose use of James Bond-like storylines and imagery gave them sex-symbol status and record sales in the millions; Michael Jackson, whose breakthrough performance in the clip "Billie Jean" and long-form fol lowup for the song "Thru 1er" (directed by John Landis) helped propel him to international stardom; Peter Gabriel, whose "Sledgehammer" clip, with its highly creative use of stop-motion animation, won a slew of awards and boosted his album So to the top of the charts; and, of course, Madonna, whose savvy partnership with MTV has made her a household name the world over.

Video has helped alternative bands like Talking Heads and R.E.M. achieve mainstream success, while reviving the careers of older performers like Rod Stewart and Robert Palmer. Simply put, musical acts which understand the format's potential have seen their stock soar, while indifferent or camera-shy artists often find their output relegated to the bargain bins.

Music videos have also been a boon to aspiring directors and cinematographers looking to make a name for themselves, although the format now attracts even top-name filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme.

In this issue of AC, we've provided a look into the world of music video by covering the creation of a hit clip (Metallica's "Enter Sandman") and offering a brief historical overview of the art form (see The Last Page). In keeping with that theme, this month's What's New column offers a glimpse at three of the more interesting recent video projects, as well as a list of winners from the Music Video Producers Association Awards, held recently in Los Angeles.

PDI's FX Enhance

Jackson's "Black or White"

As expected, Michael Jackson's video for his new single, "Black or White," ascended quickly to number one on MWs Video Countdown, a poll of the country's most popular video clips. Not coincidentally, his long-awaited recent album, Dangerous, vaulted into the top spot on Billboard's national music chart.

The video, which combines Jackson's frenetic performance style, a troupe of multinational dancers, exotic animals and state-of-the-art special effects, has drawn accolades from fans and critics for an eye-popping sequence in which the song's plea for racial harmony is visually represented via computer morphing. As the song winds to a close, faces of all nationalities blend into one another with spectacular smoothness, rivaling the seamless effects in Terminator2: Judgment Day.

The effect was created by Pacific Data Images, a Los Angeles-based company which has also contributed computer metamorphoses to commercials for Plymouth, Exxon, Ford and Schick. PDI is currently working on a morphing sequence for the upcoming Stephen King film Sleepwalkers.

PDI special effects director Jamie Dixon, who supervised the sequence, is well aware that morphing has become something of a ubiquitous trend. "Morphing is a small part of what we're typically involved in, but it seems to have caught a lot of people's attention all of a sudden," he says. "In the last year it's gotten to be a kind of trick thing to do."

Indeed, it seems only a matter of time before someone uses the technology for a remake of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or fora werewolf film. As Dixon relates, "John Landis, who directed this video, spent most of the time cursing us for not having invented it ten years earlier for An American Werewolf in London. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Music Video's Expanding Palette, Influence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.