Crafting a Story with Serialized Music Videos: M83's 'Midnight City' and 'Reunion'

Music videos have been around for years, and while you're less likely to see them on television as much anymore (ahem...MTV), there has been a resurgence in the form thanks to services like YouTube and Vimeo spreading the videos around the globe. While the line between short film and music video can be fairly hazy, it's not often we are fortunate enough to get a full-blown alternate universe and a story serialized over the course of one album. That album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming from M83, and its music videos for the songs "Midnight City" and "Reunion," feature a group of children with super-human abilities. In the timeline of the story, the second video takes place right after the first -- so be sure to check them out in that order below.

M83 - "Midnight City"

Video is no longer available:

M83 - "Reunion"

The homage-laden videos are the product of French company Division and directors Fleur and Manu, which also happens to be the home country of M83. Telling a story with a music video is nothing new, but creating an entirely new universe that takes place over the course of an album (or in this case a few songs), opens up a world of possibilities. Could this type of serialization start a trend in the world of music videos? It certainly would be interesting to see an entire album take place in a very detailed universe like this, with videos released over the course of a few months - or even one every month depending on the number of songs on the album.

Many famous directors honed their skills directing music videos -- like David Fincher and Spike Jonze. Jonze recently had a collaboration with Arcade Fire where he created an entire short film, and used parts of it to make the music video for the song "The Suburbs." That short film, Scenes from The Suburbs, runs about 30 minutes and features music from the band. Here is the music video and the trailer for the short film below:

Video is no longer available:

The full short film is available online in various places, so you can certainly check it out if you'd like, but many (if not all) all those uploads are of dubious legality. It's exciting to see new stories told in different ways, and since music can be such a huge part of how well a film works, having that music already done can be extremely helpful in visualizing the story. When both images and music are paired together, you can create some truly spectacular work. It will be interesting to see if there will be another video in the M83 series, as the two so far have been fascinating.

If you've got more examples of serialized music videos or even just an example of great storytelling in a music video, please share it in the comments.

[via The Verge & Pitchfork]

Your Comment


Here is a link to the film

June 4, 2012 at 6:23PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


If you search Vimeo, there are actually better quality versions in the correct aspect ratio. But again - not sure any of them are authorized.

June 4, 2012 at 6:34PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

The Russ Chimes Midnight Club Trilogy is really great too:

June 4, 2012 at 6:39PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I was about to say the same thing. I've watched these videos quite a few times and I still find it interesting, especially the editing. I DPed on some music videos for a friend's band late last year that had the same idea. Three videos stringing together one storyline. Don't think we were as successful as any of these, but it was a fun and interesting experiment that I'd like to explore again.

June 4, 2012 at 6:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Iamamiwhoami is an electronic artist who has been making sterilized music videos for years. Really amazing the dedication they put into it all.

June 4, 2012 at 6:45PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


What is neat about Iamamiwhoami is that there are two 'seasons' "Kin" (which starts at the video Kin: ) And then the first season, 'BOUNTY' (

June 4, 2012 at 7:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


June 5, 2012 at 12:37AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I usually prefer to do music videos that have some kind of story to tell. I never did a "trilogy" yet, but it's defiinitely something I'd like to do. Anyway, heres some of my work for hungarian bands:


The second one was quite tricky to do, the band wanted a story of an artist, who starts losing his ability to paint after picking up a bad lifestyle, but whe had to do this without showing any alcohol or drug, because of music video policys.

June 5, 2012 at 1:29AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


A music video for KoRn band "Falling Away From Me" begins as a continuation of the "Freak on a Leash" video which was a single from the previous album. So it's not only a transition between videos, but also between albums which is pretty pretty amazing.

June 5, 2012 at 2:17AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Around the same time frame was Limp Bizkit's trilogy... "Nookie" led to "Re-Arranged" led to "n 2 Gether Now"... check it out on Vevo

June 6, 2012 at 1:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is great. I recently wrote a blog post on my problems with short films (which can extend very easily to music videos), this seems like a step in the right direction. If anybody is interested the post is here.

June 5, 2012 at 4:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Not to be a sourpuss, but Ice Cube was doing this in the early 90s

June 6, 2012 at 3:36PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Remember Daft Punk's Interstella5555? the album? wich is also a movie?

June 7, 2012 at 1:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I miss when videos would concentrate on the instrumentation. It would be cool if a sci fi element was combined with a Scorsese "Last Waltz" aesthetic. Crane and dolly movements around the drummer but not too much Tron/CGI stuff to get in the way.
Put some Hawaiian hotel room photography in there. Not that I could do that or any better, I just miss the music aspect of music videos. This is like a series of Gap commercials. No humanity and nothing to grab onto from a music lovers viewpoint except the tease of a synchopated bass and drum line that flirts with yesteryear's hands on approach to stylish rock music.
I sound like a snob but I mean it, at least haha.

June 7, 2012 at 3:49PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


The Gorillaz have made (and continue to make) very... interesting... fictional animation movies for all of their songs. Actually the entire band is fictional, but that's another story. When played in order a grand scheme starts to appear.

June 7, 2012 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I love this idea haha it is totally interesting but there are more videos that continue the story if the two songs above and I'd like to know what the story is if that is at all possible to find out. But again I love this idea and bands that do it. Most of Daft Punks videos tell story's and Interstella 555 is one of my favorite (I guess) musicals and is totally rad if you've never seen it and like these I highly recommend it.

May 9, 2013 at 10:08PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM