The "TV" music video created for Snakeskin's Heart Orb Bone album was created during the pandemic quarantine as a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It incorporates playful handmade props, green screen scenes, 3D art, miniature model work, compositing with film from the original movie, and even a little machine learning. It was a really big project on my own with help from the Snakeskin band. Let me tell you a little more about it!
Above: a few stills of different scenes in the video. In our video Snake goes on a journey from the Enterprise into a gigantic TV screen. After passing through the threshold she flies through an unknown part of the galaxy and encounters a gigantic robotic version of her own head. After mind melding with it she sees all possible versions of her life in a near-death experience. Captain Matt Elkin locates her unconscious body and rescues her.
Many of the videos for Snakeskin explore the concept of evolving identity. As a snake is able to shed their skin and grow, Snakeskin sheds musical identities and constantly changes and grows. Identity is a sort of possibility space for Snakeskin, and I think the broad range of video work I have done with Shanna and the band represent this.
Compositing on the Original Film
Though much of the music video is entirely original, there are some scenes of the interior of the Enterprise which use the original movie sets as background plates upon which Shanna and the band are composited. I did this for two reasons. First, I couldn't find a good 3D interior of Star Trek to use, and second, I thought it would be fun to try to match our shots to the movie. Below you can see several examples of how we replaced the original actors with the band and myself (in the blue jumpsuit!). This required some careful camera and green screen placement but most of all it required careful inpainting to fill the spaces covered by the actors and planning on my part to add camera movement to the otherwise static backgrounds.
Above you can see Matt and Charlotte on the bridge of the enterprise. Because of COVID-19, we weren't able to get together in person to film their segments. I felt strongly that I wanted the band represented in the video, though, so I asked them to film footage themselves that I would then rotoscope onto cleaned up background plates of the bridge. While the result is obvious, I think that it is charming!
SnakeGAN: Using a Machine Learning Experiment in the Music Video
Near the end of Snake's journey she encounters a robotic head that resembles her own. When she mind melds with it she sees all possible versions of herself flash before her eyes. It nearly kills her and leaves her unconscious. I made use of a GAN of Shanna's face that I created to achieve this effect. You can see it in action below:
Handmade Props and Miniature Spacemen
Above you can see a few shots of the miniature that I used for the full-body shots of Shanna in the spacesuit. There was not a high-quality model of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture models available so I used a 2001: Space Odyssey model instead. Due to a shipping error, the model I got had a green helmet. I had to replace the color with orange in every shot of Shanna! I used a blue screen set up with some fishing wire and mic stands to shoot each shot. After some clean up in After Effects the effect looked pretty good, I think.
Below are some shots of the spacesuit I made with Shanna. It is almost entirely made of gaffer's tape and foam. I knew I could not fabricate an entire suit to the level of quality for a movie, so I embraced the lofi aesthetic and charm, as with some of the special effects. I even coded a simple app on my phone to replicate the engine controls that Spock had on his spacesuit in the movie. I know it looks like an iPhone, but I am proud of the way it turned out.
While the final video is a shot for shot remake of a sequence in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I think the combination of my own creativity with the materials and circumstances at play, and Snakeskin's wonderful music, turned this project into something wholly original. Thank you for checking out this project!