Editing the “Sia Lyric Music Video”

November 24, 2014

Editing the “Sia Lyric Music Video”


As lead Editor, this was one of the most rewarding and creative projects I have ever worked on.


#SonyPictures tasked me with the job of creating a “Lyric Music Video” for the song Opportunity sung by #Sia.  The direction I received was ‘make it fun and colorful’.   I had two amazing graphic artist at my disposal and only weeks to finish the project.

I did not want to just slap text on the video and call it a day.  I knew that Sia’s music received astronomical views online (her last one raked in 350MM) and I wanted the message/look of the video to be special.  I spent several hours researching “Lyric Videos” and trolling for inspiration on sites like motionographer.com.  Nothing really popped off as super fun.

I discussed with the graphic artist that I wanted the text to be interactive with the environment and come off as elegant.  Simple fade on/offs and hard cuts would not work for me, so they came up with the idea of “ink blot reveals”.  The song itself was an inspiration and chalked full of amazing lyrics – so that helped!


Timeline Build


The first thing I did in editorial was cut together the lyrics on my Final Cut Pro timeline.  This gave me the basic framework to begin organizing the story.   Reading through the lyrics, I quickly found language that matched scenes from the film.

For example:

“Under the spotlight” – reminded me of a scene where Annie is singing in a spotlight.  That was easy.

“Afraid to fly” – reminded me of a scene where Annie & Stacks fly in a helicopter – again, pretty self-explanatory.

The challenge for the entire video was building the arc of the story in three minutes (like a trailer), avoiding lip flap and keeping the pace interesting while avoiding any plot spoilers.  Also, it was decided halfway through the edit to intercut Quvenzhané’s performance in the red dress.  It was a balancing act.

The challenge for the graphic artist was locking down the text to tracking points and rotoscoping (a time consuming process).   We also had a severe time crunch on our hands, so the pressure was on.

To stay organized, I broke the timeline down into 35 sections.  Each section was delivered to the graphic artist with a single reference quicktime file (of what the text said) and a clean quicktime for them to work off of.  They would then construct that section and hit me for approvals.  Ninety percent of the time they were spot on and did a great job on being creative with text.  They thought of ways to reveal the text that was outside of the box and it was a fantastic collaboration.

Attention to detail was important because we wanted to add a small touch to the piece – but not make it too “artsy”.  Things like powder running off the letters, words reaching out to touch Sandy’s chin and reflections were small little things we had fun with.

We built the entire thing in FCP and After Effects.   For the “birds” in the “Afraid To Fly” section we used trapcode particular.  We followed a tutorial similar to this one.  This was one of the biggest challenges because the birds did not want to cooperate with us and they came off as unnatural.

For the opening Sia card we slowed down the footage using Twitxtor.   I also used it on several other shots to avoid frame blending.

Overall, I finished the music video in a little over two weeks.  This included 1.5 weeks of editing and five days of finishing graphics.  The video was well received by #SonyPictures and everyone was happy with the end product.  At the end of the day, it was great to release something into the world that had meaning and heart.

Go see Annie December 19th, it’s a fantastic family movie.

Question or comments?  Let me know @stickmanprod

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