Hello Interwebs! New type of analysis article here, where I condense 3 videos into one read for you. This time I’ve got stories to share for Speech Jam, A Study of Attention, and D’Oh Re Mi. Read on to discover more.
Up to this point, I’ve written analyses on a 1:1 scale (1 video gets one article). Problem is, not every video deserves an entire article all its own. Sometimes I don’t have many behind-the-scenes stories to share with you. And a good deal of our content doesn’t have enough “substance” for an in-depth analysis. So I’m going to write more analysis articles like this going forward. First up we have:
SPEECH JAM BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORIES
NOTE: This video was filmed November 30, 2016.
Have you ever heard of Rhett and Link? They’re some of the original professional YouTubers and run a successful daily show called Good Mythical Morning (GMM). Justin and I used to watch said show almost every day when we lived in York University’s residence. Now– in one episode, Rhett and Link tested out something called a “Speech Jammer”. The basic principle: you would wear headphones whilst speaking into a microphone, and a program would play your voice back through your ears at a slight delay. This effect scientifically screws up your vocal rhythm (in short: because you’re hearing your previous words as you’re saying your next ones).
Of course Justin and I were inclined to try this experiment for ourselves. These Jammers have free apps online, so we downloaded one to Justin’s phone. Lo and behold: Justin’s speech was almost fully impaired! He could no longer form coherent sentences without a severe stutter. Seeing him struggle to beat the program offered me much amusement. Unfortunately for Justin’s fun, the jammer didn’t affect me near so much as it did him (hence why we chose him to be the main character in our video).
Justin and I found the jamming effect so entertaining that we decided to film him chatting with people while we picked up lunch. We didn’t plan to be out long– just enough time to grab our food, have a few conversations and get back to residence– but we ultimately stayed out for 2 hours. Our rough plan was to create some vague social experiment: perhaps a lesson in empathy. Would people think Justin had a speech impediment? How would they treat him? And could we get them to understand his struggle?
We approached random people on campus and asked if they’d like to talk with Justin. He and I came up with gags before each encounter (like reciting the number pi, or trying to sing “Happy Birthday”). They’d inevitably be polite towards his perceived impediment and then downright confused when he spoke with them normally. We’d then have the volunteers try the jammer themselves to put them in Justin’s shoes.
Everyone we talked with seemed to have some fun with the experience. They were all fantastic sports! And they were wonderfully patient with us too. The York U campus is a largely friendly place and I’m glad if we could demonstrate that here.
NOTE: Most of the people we talked to in this video had never so much as laid eyes on us before that day. There were 1 or 2 people who lived in our residence and recognized us, but I don’t believe we’d ever spoken with them before. Either way– these reactions are all genuine. Nobody was in on the joke at first, and this wasn’t scripted.
One of the funniest parts for me is how Justin’s speech stayed impaired after he took the headphones off. 2 hours straight of wearing those headphones (he kept them on when we weren’t rolling) was enough time to temporarily rewire something in his brain.
Later on we tried to play Beatles Rockband with the speech jammer. We were basically masters at that game already, so we had somewhat of an advantage, but the jammer still screwed us up. Freaking thing made us sound tone deaf! I swear Justin and I can carry a tune better than that on a regular day. That said: we ought to release the uncut versions of those Jam sessions. My off-key version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is probably one of my all-time most embarrassing moments in a Thought Plane Media production… So you’ll probably love it.
Justin and I had fun with this one! It gave us a good excuse to explore our campus some more– see some new buildings. We learned about something we’d never heard of, and we amused some fellow students. All in all I’d say this one was a success!
A STUDY OF ATTENTION BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORIES
This video was filmed January 29, 2017
A Study of Attention was born out of a film school project on the differences between deep thought and hyper-attention. My class was gifted wide parameters on how we might present our projects, so of course I chose to produce a video! Filmed assignments are both more entertaining than live ones (usually) and give me practice in my craft.
Problem was the assignment was due that night. And I may or may not have procrastinated. Oops. Of course by that I mean, I hadn’t started. Double oops. At least I’d read the material I had to reference, so give me some credit! Either way I spent the entire day anxiously cramming. That’s how I do much of my best work though.
My whole morning/ afternoon was spent writing out a script, and the TPM crew filmed it that evening. Our friend Jessica fortuitously visited us that weekend and agreed to appear in the film. I greatly appreciated her and Justin’s relatively last-minute assistance on this thing!
Sunset began to fall as the final draft of my script reached completion. So the crew began filming in the nearby forest first, hoping to preserve the last of our daylight. Those sections of A Study of Attention still came out too dark for my tastes though… Completely my fault! I concede that.
I’ll bet Justin had fun getting to run wild though! His hyper-active character essentially becomes a being of pure instinct in nature. Why bother with the scene if he couldn’t go over the top, right?
STORY NOTE: It’s hard to tell what happens to the male and female test subject here– but they are forced to sleep in a hole for the night because Justin’s character forgot to bring their tent. Jess, Justin and I just found this hole in the forest to use.
From here we grabbed dinner and explored the colleges till we’d found an empty classroom. Nobody else was bound to occupy those rooms by that time of night. I particularly liked the room we found because its white walls felt like a sterile “control” environment for our main characters/ test subjects.
Speaking of our test subjects: these characters were mostly exaggerated versions of their actors– Justin in particular. Justin and Jess already had a natural chemistry, so they played off each other nicely. Justin’s energy and delivery brought life to the project; And Jess’ semi-annoyed yet reserved demeanor balanced out his extremities (because this thing would have been annoying if Justin didn’t have a foil).
NOTE: My favourite joke from ASoA, which I still quote: “READING? Reading in a movie called STAR WARS? Ugh…”
I recorded the voice-over in our room that night, edited the video within a few hours and got it submitted (by the deadline)! Justin, Jess and I had a good time making ASoS. The project was admittedly rushed, but it turned out more entertaining than it had a right to be. Cramming for the win!!!
A STUDY OF ATTENTION NARRATIVE ANALYSIS
In case it’s not obvious: I was was going for the tone of of those corny 1950s education videos (for any gamers out there– like the Fallout S.P.E.C.I.A.L videos). There’s something about that style which has always resonated with me. Maybe it’s because they’re so goofy they become memorable– and remembering the subject matter is the whole point.
So what was the idea behind A Study of Attention? Well, the story demonstrates how Justin’s scatterbrained character is more apt to survival than Jess’. His short attention span is preferable in nature because deep concentration is more likely to get you killed in the wild. Yet Justin struggles to adapt these skills in a more structured environment. Alternatively: Jess’ character thrives in an ordered world because she has the patience to learn, reflect and critically engage with bigger notions of humanity as a species. Of course these skills aren’t always applicable to the natural world, so she’s largely at a loss in the woods.
This is a tale of extremes. Deep thinking and hyper-attention both have their benefits and drawbacks. Humanity successfully developed a balance between these schools of thought: we are attentive enough to survive, yet think deeply enough to grow beyond our instincts. Human cultures should strive to hone that balance on a wide scale: we need to slow down our pace of life so that hyper-attention doesn’t stifle our development, and abstain from thinking too deeply (too regularly) at the expense of our instincts.
Oh yeah– part of the joke is that the subjects only hear the narrator when they let their brains become more hyperactive. Because they can’t concentrate on any one thing for too long, they can occasionally tune in to something beyond their realm of understanding. The hyper-attentive male test subject promptly forgets about the narrator upon their discovery and moves on. But the deep-thinking female subject’s preoccupation with this unknown force is not so easily broken once she’s discovered it. Letting her mind wander allowed her to hear me, and concentrating allowed her to question the nature of my reality (and probably hers as well). Once again: balance is key.
D’OH RE MI BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORIES
This video was compiled in early March 2017
I don’t remember EXACTLY how Justin, Jess and I came up with this idea. We’d seen YouTube compilations in the past like “President sings Taylor Swift Song” or whatever… But, being the pop culture fans we are, we decided to make various film characters perform a song.
But what song to choose? And what might set our video apart from others of its type? Someone eventually suggested that we use “Do-Re-Mi” from the Sound of Music but replace every “Do” with Homer Simpson’s classic “D’oh!” grunt. We all loved it and the idea spiraled from there.
This was during TPM’s “Peak period” when Justin and I did our best to maintain a regular upload schedule. Our goal was to put SOMETHING out every 2 weeks or so– and blooper reels for some bonus material. This timeline left us with 6 days to complete “D’Oh Re Mi” when we started.
The project began on March 2nd and instantly proved too large for Justin and I to handle alone… So we enlisted TPM’s most frequent collaborator (Jess) to help us on her spare time. Because I was going home for the weekend of Mar 3rd, I wanted Justin and I to get as much done as possible while we were still together.
Justin, Jess and myself started compiling clips around midnight and worked for a few hours. Jess and I found the clips, wrote ’em down, and Justin edited them together. That evening was one of intense concentration on all our parts. Though we’d often bring some joy to one another by showing off our best finds. Jess and I notably took pride in finding certain clips (like how many famous properties talk about “thread”??).
We used a spread sheet to keep track of our material. And we searched for clips with an important goal: to make sure each video fragment was unique. We didn’t want any two lines from the same movie, song or episode of a show. I do believe we succeeded on that front! For example: there are many lines from Star Wars movies, but no two from the SAME Star Wars film.
Jess searched for more materials on Mar 3rd; Justin and I sought some videos on Mar 5th (Jess tinkered on it that day as well, but not with us). By the end of that day, we still required 72 clips.
I chipped away at DRM in class on Mar 6th. Don’t judge me too harshly. I was bored… Between Justin, Jess and myself, we wrapped up the remainder of our search that night.
Justin downloaded the clips on the Tuesday the 7th, which only gave him one day to finish up the final edit… He blitzed it as best he could, completing “D’Oh Re Mi” on Thursday the 9th. Fun fact: this is the same day Justin and I filmed our X. Files alternate endings video (Facebook exclusive –SPOILER WARNING FOR EPISODE 8– but one of my favourite X. Files things!)
Jess was a fantastic help on DRM! Justin and I appreciated the great deal of time and effort she volunteered to get this thing done. We seriously couldn’t have completed the project on time without her.
That said: we shouldn’t have rushed to complete “D’Oh Re Mi”, schedule be damned. Our time-crunch forced us to cut some (apparently important) corners. For example: it always bothered me that we chopped the background music halfway through the video… That one decision kills DRM’s flow and frustrates me (more than it probably should) on every re-watch. Justin didn’t have enough time to sync the rest of the track though. So that’s the best we could do.
Maybe DRM’s flaws wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been some disposable project, but “D’Oh Re Mi” somehow took off to be our most viewed video. 14,000 people have watched this thing so far! That more than tripples our next-most-watched videos (Batman 1966 and How Hamlet Should Have Ended). Who am I to decry our biggest success? But why did it have to be THAT one of all things???
Lesson learned: give your all to every video! You never know which one will take off… D’Oh Re Mi is far from TPM’s work, yet it acts as our brand’s ambassador across the internet. This is what people think our general entertainment is like. And I’ve got to live with that…
What sorts of videos would you like to see more of from TPM going forward (compilations like DRM, parodies, sketches)? And which of these videos do you like best? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!
Till next time,