The Designers Who Starred in the Summer’s Biggest Viral Video

Posted inPrint Design Articles

by Allie Strauss

By now, you’ve probably seen the irresistible music video for the Japanese trio Sour, which has already gotten more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. The video’s directors–Masashi Kawamura, Hal Kirkland, Maggie Nakamura, and Masayoshi Nakamura (who was profiled in Print two years ago)–choreographed the action and then asked the band’s fans from around the world to reenact the movements and record their scenes via webcam. The result? An edited collage of people and colors “interacting” from around the world.

As an added bonus, the stars of the video include several designers based right here in New York. We checked in with a few of them to ask them what it felt like to be directed and what the process involved. Most of them were surprised at the amount of work that goes into something that still retains its low-fi bona fides. Scott Valins of Valins&Co. didn’t realize the complexity and scope of what they had dreamed up. “It was meticulously staged, tested and boarded–a necessity to pull off the edit within the given timeframe,” he says. “It was hilariously complex to shoot.” The process, according to Chase Massingill, of Kinetogenic, began when Masa and Maggie created an animatic (a simplified mock-up to help with motion and timing) that they played as reference for him while he attempted to follow along with the various motions. “Some motions were fairly simple, some required a bit of practice and were frustrating at times.” To allow for cutting and pasting together in editing to create full scenes, movements, and interactions, “Each part had to be exact or the effect wouldn’t work. That was a lot of pressure!” says Jessica Kashiwabara, of Arth Hat Shop. Damijan Saccio of Uvphactory, agrees. “You actually have to be extremely accurate in where you place your hands and movements in order to be in the exact right alignment,” he says. “One of the hardest things was to be checking the video display to make sure you were doing things in the right places at the same time as actually performing the actions.”

The song, say the directors, speaks to “people’s individual expressions as they collaborate to make a greater whole.” The “low tech” idea—“shooting our part of video in one shot and [trying] not to do any video editing and effects,” according to husband and wife participants, Andy Huang and Jeny Lin—ultimately contributes to a video that Kaori Sohma (the one with the white shirt, whose right eyeball is featured on the close-up face montage) says captures the connection aspect of the webcam beautifully as it interacts with colors, shapes, and people. “Those elements make the Sour video welcoming and create a sense of connection to the viewers,” she says. “All of us can relate to those crafts, almost making the viewers wish they were part of the collaboration.”