United Dictators of Mars: The Music of Tom Mody & Jeffrey Harris







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Jeffrey Harris and Tom Mody 2008 >::..:.::..:::
United Dictators of Mars
Questions for God

Bonus DVD
Offcial Video
"Piece of Heaven"

United Dictators of Mars - Questions for God
::.::| LINER NOTES |.::...:.

Tom Mody song liner notesThis was the second music video we shot for this album (and the 2nd ever really). Though actually, I had conceptually come up with some of the basics prior to our first video When I Die. But with our first video I had the entire script story-boarded in my head so it ws easy and seamless to make despite it being my first attempt at shooting and editing a music video. This video was more ideas that needed to be fleshed out and the complexity of aligning everything up and getting it shot properly dulled my enthusiasm for a while as there were a number of reshoots and schedule cancellations that draged this out a few months. One of the reasons I wanted to shoot this song is that it featured both Jeff and myself singing. Since there are only 2 of us we loose the element of a band playing as a whole that can bring so much energy to a video. Having the dual vocals allowed us to each have our own space and I'm not a big fan of essentially "air guitaring" all by myself through the video. So I had the idea of the dual half faces with just some cosmic effects behind us. But as I played with the editing effects in imovie I thought I might actually be able to tell the story of the song in an avant-garde kind of mime and then use the exploding cosmic images in the chorus. So I dressed in black and Jeff shot my movements against a black curtain. I had to be very careful which side I shot on because my movents had to be opposite the side of the person singing and I actually labeled the view screen of the camcorder to be sure we didn't forget. I didn't realize I simply could have flipped the image once I got it into imovie. All the explosions were lifted from some movie explosion footage I found on youtube. I then had to edit all the movement and background footage and synch it with the song and make a DVD of that. Then I played the DVD on my 50" TV while Jeff and I sat in front of the TV and filmed our parts against the background DVD and then re-edit and sych all over again. I don't have blue-screen or SMPTE time code capability which is how a professional shoot would be done. It reminds of of the days before portable multi-tracks where I'd record a guitar part on a boom box and then play the over dub parts along to the boom box into another boom box and over and over until I got a song demo. The raw footage of this video wasn't that great but with exposure adjustments and some other blending effects it came out pretty good. I can't say our facial alighments were always perfect but it's nothing I could really judge until the footage was downloaded into the computer and we re-shot the footage 3 different times. The biggest problem was that the viewer in the camcorder doesn't show about 15% of the actual shot footage and I had to be sure that I didn't get any of the TV border on the side edges. The top border I could edit out with the letterbox. The whole idea of the negative effects came from the guitar solo section. There just was no interesting way to shoot the guitar solo so I tried the negative and it looked "heavenly" which fit the song so I used the effect throughout to tie it in. I got the idea for the outro footage at the last second with me catching the falling cross and though the footage isn't that great and needed alot of contrast work- it worked well enough to symbolize what the song was about which is the difficulty of holding on to faith and not letting it slip away. Overall it's a pretty good video. I certainly could have spent even more time being discriminating about the editing but I only have so much time to get it done and move on. Every shot had multiple imovie layering plug-ins to recolor, smooth out and add effects to the clips, as did When I Die, but the editing was so much more complex with the scene sweeps and alignment issues and after some weeks of being a bit down on the video it was quite rewarding to see it finally come to life and complete.


Jeffrey Harris song liner notes

Let me first say this... I am glad Tom is the one editing all of this footage. The filming of Piece of Heaven seemed more difficult than When I Die. For me at least. It was more technical than WID. I think Tom did a great job with this and it was another well thought out process. Hey, after all, we are just a couple of guys filming out of a basement so to speak so it is my opinion that this stuff is impressive for what it is. Tom's brainchild of having footage in the background while flip-flopping vocal sequences and using his 50 inch screen may seem primitive to some, but if you really think about it, the guy uses whatever resources are available to him and captures his thoughts to bring it to the screen for entertainment. If anyone had stood by and watched this process they would have never known that the outcome would NOT be dripping of cheese. That last comment was actually my attempt at being facetious. But this gives the audience an idea of "perception versus reality" or the "magic" behind the scenes. So yeah, I had some difficulty with this shoot compared to WID. Even though it didn't take countless hours to shoot (I don't think), I was tired much of the time and I also was suffering from some sort of back pain at times. But it was a treat to be on the other side of the camera to film Tom's background footage. He has a lot of cool ideas and even I was amazed at the end result. I really dig the effects in the video and everything going on at once. I find myself watching the vid multiple times so that I can catch everything that is going on... AND I WAS THERE!!! So everybody, we filmed this one mostly in the Mody bedroom and a little bit in the basement with regard to the vocal segments. What is truly amazing to me is that there is a 50 inch flat screen with a complete surround Dolby theater system in the bedroom and a 27 inch television in the living room. Needless to say, it was kind of weird when filming was spilling over into "family bedtime" and family would pop in while I was sitting there looking all goofy in front of a TV surrounded by extreme lighting and I am lip syncing with my face about 10 inches away in front of a camera. But that's the magic of TV kiddies.

Tom's Rebuttle: In fact there was about 4 hours of raw footage shot so your perception of countelss hours is different than mine- but then again, my perception of the process is skewed by the editing time. Profits from this video will be going towrad getting the poor Mody family a larger TV in the livingroom. Or in other words- we'll be watching a 27" TV in the living room for a long while!

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