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December 28, 2012

Watch 'I'll Be Home for Christmas,' a Single Steadicam Shot 120FPS RED EPIC Music Video, Plus BTS Clip

While some of you may still be in the holiday spirit and enjoying time with family, we've got a music video from Sufjan Stevens that may or may not make you feel just a little different about the holiday classic "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Filmed in 120fps on the RED EPIC, the video took 1 month of preparation, 3 days of set building, and 35 cast and crew members -- all for a total filming time of less than 1 minute. Click through to check it out, plus a nifty behind the scenes video of the entire thing in real-time.

Here is the behind the scenes video:

While this probably isn't what most people think of when they hear the song, the visuals complement the song perfectly. The video is straight out of a dream, or maybe a nightmare, depending on your point of view, and the slow motion of the RED EPIC makes those brief moments last for that much longer. The video was directed by Aaron and Alex Craig, who run We Are Films out of Brooklyn, NY. They've got quite a few interesting productions under their belt -- check out their reel here:

The song is available on the Silver & Gold album from the label run in part by Sufjan Stevens himself, Asthmatic Kitty Records.

What do you guys think of the music video? Do any of the symbols mean anything in particular to you?

Links:

Your Comment

77 Comments

Amazing video, well thought out.

December 28, 2012

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ThunderBolt

Are you kidding? First Santa cutting a deer horn then 3 out of 5 around the coffin were looking straight into the camera the second policeman turning the light off and on girls popping balloons I could go on. What about any of that is well thought out. This is a bad example of visual story telling in my humble opinion there was no story other than a little girl seeing several inane XMAS references that made no sense at all. Where is the story? the only thing accomplished is showing they can do 120 FPS big deal. It was very boring and not entertaining at all. This is the first time I have been very critical about any of the films shown here and I am still a beginner compared to a lot of people so I try to shut up and observe to learn but I have to say this is not worth while other than visually it is acceptable the cinematography is good enough but not stunning. There was far to much money spent on this production fro the results all because there is no story to support the title we didn't learn anything other than the camera can do an okay job at a high frame rate in subdued lighting. Sorry but that is this mans opinion.

January 6, 2013

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Gary Simmons

Completely boring.

December 28, 2012

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Ilyes Griyeb

Was anyone else depressed watching this?

December 28, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

totally....I jumped directly to the BTS video :)

December 28, 2012

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Jesus

yes another dumb stupid video trying to be way too 'artistic'

December 30, 2012

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Joe

FOR YOU

December 30, 2012

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Natt

Shooting-wise it was fine. However, take away the slow-motion and it's pretty much devoid of anything except a few random set pieces thrown together. This is another example of slow motion as an over-used gimmick. Considering how much work went into this, one would hope for it to leave the viewer with more to take away from it. Would of been nice to have a stronger narrative that had something to say.

December 28, 2012

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Neil

Take away the slow-motion? Isn't that like saying "take away *sci-fi* from Star Wars and it's just another boring movie?" The whole concept of the video was built on slo-motion.

I took a lot away from it, not just disappointment that it was in slomo.

December 28, 2012

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Perhaps you didn't understand my comment. I'll try and be clearer - one of my problems with the video is exactly as what you celebrate as being good about it... "the whole concept of the video was built on slo-mo" My point exactly. It's a gimmick and a tool in the filmmakers arsenal and a creative crutch. One should never build a piece around something like slo-mo. Build it around an idea, a feeling, a character, something human that we can relate to and engage with. Slo-mo is not one of those things. I feel the same way about this video as I do many Hollywood blockbusters. All flash and VFX wizardry with no substance.

December 28, 2012

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Neil

Let me respectfully disagree, Neil. The slow-motion contributed vastly, I thought, to the dreaminess of the video, and I think it's obvious, between the music and the visuals, that this sought to evoke the almost-reality of a dream or nightmare, or at least the memory of one, with its strange images drifting in and out of the darkness. Done at 24fps it would have lost a lot. Also, and this is just me speaking, I think creative types of any sort should be extremely wary of phrases like, "One should never..." To me words like that are too dogmatic and they rarely bear out in practice. I find it particularly unhelpful with music videos, too, which thanks to their brevity and nature allow artists far more room to move than they would when making, say, a feature, which must hold an audience for much longer and so benefit more from sticking to established principles. Meaning, in this case, I think music videos are precisely the sort of thing one can build around a technique (I do think there's more to this video than just the technique, but even if there weren't I don't think it would be a problem). In any case, just my two cents.

December 28, 2012

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you still didn't get his point actually :)

December 29, 2012

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michael

I'm siding with Neil on this one. I'm not knocking the fact that they put a lot of effort into this: they did. But effort does not automatically make it good. It is a pretty empty, boring piece.

December 29, 2012

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FabDex

I think I agree with you. From a technical perspective I thought it looked great and gave the desired feel of a dream/nightmare. I just don't think their was any point to it, it didn't connect at a personal level. I want to feel for the character, try to understand them and how they see things. What they are feeling? Why is she dreaming about those things? What do they mean? Those are questions this video really failed to address and because of that it seems like it had a much greater potential that it didn't reach. Just an opinion mind you.

January 3, 2013

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Geoff

unimaginative boring and blah:)

December 28, 2012

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Harry

Unimaginative. Hilarious.

December 28, 2012

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good god, Jonas, why can't you just accept that most people have a different opinion than you have?!

December 28, 2012

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hansd

Most people? Three people are most people? Again, hilarious. I guess I just get tired of people making glib, knee jerk comments when people make beautiful art that take a lot of time and effort. Things like film are entirely subjective, so to simply say "unimaginative boring and blah" is a waste of everyone's time. If you don't like it, fine, go somewhere else.

December 29, 2012

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Yes, truely unimaginative, a bunch of clichets filmed in slow-motion. In french we call it a "cache-misère", a "misery-hider". You have a problem with my opinion ? Is this director a friend of yours maybe ? You're just as ridiculous as the video is, empty of sense. See you

December 28, 2012

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Ilyes Griyeb

I have no problem with your opinion; my problem is with your delivery and attitude. "You’re just as ridiculous as the video is, empty of sense." Thanks so much for your contribution to this discussion and in turn filmmaking in general. I trust you will go far.

December 29, 2012

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pretty much nails it for me.

December 28, 2012

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hansd

Beyond lame. Waste.

December 28, 2012

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jordan

"COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!"

December 28, 2012

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Whats wrong with his comment? That is his opinion.

December 28, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

Actually he is right. Sorry. Ill tone it down. My comment added nothing to the thread. Just tough to keep my mouth shut when there is so much other talent out there worthy of a post. Cheers.

December 28, 2012

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jordan

Idk, I like when people give feedback, even if it is negative.

December 28, 2012

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Jeff Akwante

Thanks for saying so, Jordan. And I have NO problem with people voicing their opinions, but if someone truly doesn't like something for whatever reason, I just hope they'd be more constructive or detailed with their criticism (which I think you get, and again appreciate you saying so). This is supposed to be a forum where filmmakers and enthusiasts discuss their opinions and contribute to a "greater good" by sharing experience and thoughts... hopefully the posts can reflect that spirit instead of being more like typical YouTube comments.

December 29, 2012

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It wasn't constructive. It was more of straight complaint than a criticism.

December 28, 2012

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Blah

They had a month of prep and 35 people at their disposal and this is the final product? Wow. I think the slow-motion one shot dream/nightmare idea is a good one - but this is just really boring, visually.

December 28, 2012

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Matthew

"but this is just really boring, visually" Again... hilarious.

December 28, 2012

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Just because someone disagrees with you doesnt make them wrong, I found this pretty dull and boring considering the amount of prep and work involved, it seems most people commenting here did too.

December 28, 2012

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Peter Kelly

LOL, cry about it.

December 28, 2012

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Matthew

Did you work on it or something? it seems like you are getting too offended about what other people are saying...

December 28, 2012

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Derek

Not too offended (and didn't work on it), I just get sick of people on a "filmmaker forum" behaving like YouTube trolls. If you didn't like it, be more specific about why or what you'd do differently. Of course people have different opinions, *especially* when talking about something as subjective as film and music, but don't just say "stupid."

FWIW: I think the ultra slo-mo contributes to the dreamlike state of Xmas and the way the song sounds, and the fact that it's a *single* shot timed to the full length of the song (but played at around five times the length of the actual shot) and carefully choreographed for each vignette the camera hits at a certain time, it's something we haven't seen before (thus original and interesting).

December 29, 2012

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I agree Jonas, and think you've made your points really well. It;s about the level of conversation it would be nice to promote and take part in at NFS.

I think it's quite a beautiful piece with a lot of hard work and skill, but unfortunately it didn't hold my interest either. My thoughts were, inherent to the location limitations and slow mo that the pacing/transitions were problematic... at times just too long and slow. I also felt the lack of a "closer" relationship to objects and events made the experience more emotionally passive. Then add that articular score which I think doesn't quite gel with a little girls wondrous journey and it didn't quite click for me. But still a quality piece of work.

December 30, 2012

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I'm a big fan of Sufjan Stevens and even bought this box set, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, I don't really like this video. The set design and lighting are beautiful but something about the execution just never engaged me. It's a good study though, because I love when I have to strain to figure out what didn't work for me in a project that obviously has a lot of good stuff going for it. That's learning. Thanks for the post.

December 28, 2012

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This is essentially how the first scene of Hugo is. One shot, Steadicam in slow mo. No org was complaining about that.

The amount of time put into that video is evident with the sets and lighting and timing of everything. I thought it was well done considering it was an ambitious one shot. Each room had so much going on. I thought it was great. Imagine the rigging that was done to hide every light in that whole wide take looking into multiple rooms. Kudos to the filmmakers for not cranking out another cliche music video.

December 28, 2012

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"The amount of time put into that video is evident with the sets and lighting and timing of everything......Imagine the rigging that was done to hide every light in that whole wide take looking into multiple rooms."
So the amount of time, effort and rigging equals......good?

December 28, 2012

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Jeffrey

What i said was its evident the spent a lot of time on it. And in my opinion its very well done for what it is. that was a large task and they pulled off what they were trying to execute very well. Good is subject to your own thoughts. it was shot well, lit well, directed well, production design was great, had insane amounts of variables, the timing was on cue, and it had story, if you will, to it. In my mind, it had much more going for it than it lacked.

December 28, 2012

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domenic barbero

Yes, I agree "good" is a subjective term.
But you have to understand my confusion in your original post. You site the time and effort that the filmmakers put into this project. But despite all its technical prowess (in my opinion) that doesn't necessarily translate to the final piece as being "good".

December 28, 2012

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Jeffrey

Jesus... you compare this to "Hugo" ? Wow...

December 29, 2012

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FabDex

this is precisely what hugos opening shot is. slow mo, one shot, multiple rooms, steadicam. Come on man. Get with it.

December 29, 2012

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domenic barbero

hm...and a painting is a painting, right??

December 29, 2012

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michael

Even if I imagine the rigging and amount of work, I still don't connect to it. I actually don't like that argument at all when it's about valuing creative work.

December 28, 2012

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hansd

i guess its all about how you interpret creative. to me there are several layers of creative while still being very simple

December 28, 2012

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domenic barbero

Didn't understand it. Disappointed by it. But liked many of the visuals. And glad to have seen it.

If I never again in my life see another balloon popping in slow motion, I don't think I'll have missed out on too much.

December 28, 2012

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Trying to take all these details in one long shot, does not just mean a great effort, but we are in front of talented and creative director, i'm Impressed :)

December 28, 2012

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Some of the visuals were interesting, I love single takes but like some have expressed it wasn't too interesting.

December 28, 2012

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For those that think this is boring and unimaginative, or even that the slow-motion made the video, think again. The slow-motion was used as a story-telling tool and it was effective. Actually, it was brilliant. But the video is far more than special effects. Listen to the entire 58-song album by Sufjan and if you still don't understand the (quite overt) message of the video, then I think you are too unintelligible to appreciate anything truly creative and should go back to mindlessly celebrating. Merry Christmas everybody.

December 28, 2012

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Christmas Unicorn

ever told a joke, noone laughed, so you tried to explain why it actually is funny...just doesn't work ;)

December 28, 2012

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michael

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