“Perhaps we had a chance for peace, but desperation and trust are seldom allies.”
This is my first video in 4k, which is interesting because I think they overdid it. It was hard to find a still shot that summarized the whole video because so much of it only looks good on a big screen. But boy does it look good on a big screen. And the music is epic enough to belong in 4k, so I feel like it works really well.
“It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity.”
~Philip K. Dick
Imagine waking up to find yourself in a body that isn’t yours, a body that isn’t a body at all. You wake to find yourself inside the shell of a powerful machine. It’s a weapon, and it has a controllable trigger. This is what happens when someone pulls that trigger.
The source video is a captivating trailer from Riot Games for League of Legends set (not coincidentally) to “Machine Dreams” by Two Steps from Hell. The glitchy nature of the original video allowed me to do some things I normally can’t, which doesn’t distract from the original and helps further the story. The song is unusually electronic for TSfH, but it’s just as powerful and epic.
This is one of those rare videos that was put together in a single evening. I’d already done another mashterpiece with this video before, but the themes were strangely perfect. After a few failed attempts to merge the two, I had a breakthrough when I realized that Premiere Pro’s optical flow setting totally worked in my favor this time. The video itself is already filled with glitches because of the storyline, so my digital meddling mostly goes unnoticed.
This video is very much a work in progress. The only footage available to me when I made was three of the trailers released over the past couple of years. A friend is currently capturing high-quality video for me, which I’ll use to continue improving upon this version. Aside from it simply being higher resolution, it’ll have a lot more options for me to tell the story.
I’ve been looking for a video to set to this song for more than a year, but I wasn’t able to find the right one until now. I’m still on the fence about whether it works, but I have a feeling another injection of new imagery could make this video all I hope it can be. “Victory” is currently the most popular song on YouTube by Two Steps from Hell. It has over 12 million views on the official video, and countless re-uploads and remixes like mine. I wanted to make my version unique, so I remixed not just the video but the audio as well.
The video starts with the orchestral version of “Victory,” highlighting Horizon Zero Dawn‘s beautiful and mysterious past. Then it shifts into the more familiar instrumental version as human beings are introduced, traveling from far off lands to find what remains of civilization. Once we are introduced to our main character, we finally hear the main theme of the song as it shows her growing up and practicing her archery. As she and her skills take center stage, it shifts into the full version with choir and lead vocalist. The song naturally dips into a mostly orchestral section as we begin to see her actual story unfolding, with a mysterious journey across the machine-filled plains and ancient ruins. Finally, the song drops into a powerful reprisal of the orchestral version, the section of music that inspired this whole project.
I became obsessed with that part of the orchestral version while on a very long drive across Texas. The whole song is just so well written and performed with such intensity that I couldn’t stop listening to all three versions over and over. And it was during one of those listens that I heard the orchestral “break down” and knew what I had to try as soon as I got to my computer. The result is the video above, which I will continue to work on until I’m no longer inspired.
This fight sequence from the movie Sucker Punch is perfectly over the top. Three twelve-foot-tall samurai battle against one young woman. Spoiler alert: she wins. If you’re not familiar with the premise of the movie, this fantasy world is a mental construct of the main character’s mind. She’s able to deal with seemingly insurmountable odds because she is blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. At least, in theory.
The music track is “Chase the Light” by Two Steps from Hell, and it perfectly matches the flow of the fight scene. From the tense standoff at the beginning to the intensity that kicks in when it literally happens on screen, so many of these musical cuts beg for an action-packed, time-warping video like this one. Though critics weren’t fans of this film, the sheer badassery and poetry to its scenes provide a wealth of imagery to draw from for inspiration.
One of my favorite things about this video is the way her head twitches (just perceptibly) to the side the first two times we see her face. She’s strong and confident, walking right up to these giant samurais. But she has to fight off her own sense of self-preservation. Her instinct is to look away, to run. But she pushes right through it, coming toe-to-toe with all three of them.
I’m the reason for all of this. They call me a killer, a monster, a terrorist. I’m all of these things.
This was an exercise in immediacy. Some videos take me several hours, some take many days, and some take weeks. This one only took a few hours. Two Steps from Hell uploaded this song to their channel today, so I wanted to ride the wave. And though there are obviously things I want to change, the challenge was putting together a video I could feel comfortable releasing before the day was over.
The only unbreakable promise of war is that one day it will end.
I truly love this one. The music is uplifting and hopeful even though the video doesn’t appear to be. But this isn’t a celebration of the death of humanity as much as the rebirth of the old world, fulfilling the promise that war will one day end. Our machines will continue to plod along until there’s no one around to maintain them, and nature will move on as though we never existed. Admittedly, this could be viewed as a depressing reality, but it’s no more depressing than the cost of war.
Every aspect of human technology has a dark side, including the bow and arrow.
I mixed this together last night. Some videos and songs seem like they were meant for each other, and these two definitely fall into that category. The story mostly takes place outside of a city that resembles a futuristic Las Vegas, so visually it’s very tied to the name of the song. And thematically, it has a somber melody that suits the protagonist’s journey, which unravels itself a little at a time. The video itself even takes center stage during an unusually repetitive and otherwise boring moment in the song. It’s as if they composed it for this video, though they clearly didn’t.