CRASH+SUES Rocks Out for Imagination Movers

When the Imagination Movers were ready to release Rock-o-Matic, their latest DVD of music videos targeted to children and parents alike, they came to CRASH+SUES (C+S) for an innovate approach to creating music video vignettes that would bring their songs to life. The full-service post production company’s multi-disciplined team took a fresh, collaborative approach to the project, providing a full pallet of editorial, visual effects, stop motion animation, color correction and finishing — as well as some production services — for six of the seven videos featured on the DVD, in addition to cutting all of the interstitials and authoring the disk.

Imagination Movers is Disney’s Emmy Award-winning eclectic rock band that has been captivating kids of all ages with its fresh approach to pop music. The quartet of singers/performers have sold more than 250,000 CDs and DVDs, and star in their own hit music and comedy series on the Disney Junior network.  This most recent high-energy DVD features music videos linked to fun interstitials that range from live-action comedy bits to “Great Moments in Creativity,” activities and the Catnip and Catnap puppets — taking the general to the next level.

C+S executive producer Sven Shelgren, who helmed the project, recounts, Scott Durbin, one of the four Imagination Movers, called C+S owner Heidi Habben last summer with a question about doing a stop motion animation music video for one of their songs.  He was impressed by the work he had seen on our website, and loved the idea of stop motion as a way to reach and connect with kids in a visually exciting way.”

Initially C+S was tasked with creating a single music video as a promotional piece heralding the launch of The Movers new CD of original songs and their upcoming nationwide tour. However the job ultimately grew into a full 30-minute DVD, that made use of the company’s streamlined pipeline of visual effects, animation, editing, color correction and finishing services for 6 more music videos, along with a series of comedy skits created by and starring the Movers that were interlaced into the DVD, and all of the interstitial skits, graphic design, as well as authoring the DVD. The project also took advantage of CRASH+SUES’ production capabilities, tapping into the veteran executive producer Sven Shelgren’s considerable experience in the live-action production arena.

C+S provided postproduction services for the music videos featured on the DVD, including: “Little Red Wagon,” helmed by animation director Cari Merryman, who incorporated stop-motion animation into a cut-paper environment with traditional cel-style video to create a captivating visual story; “Everybody Sing,” edited by Matthew Kroese; “Remember When,” edited by Eric Riggs; the animated video “Blast Off,” created by animation director Kinsey Engelmann.

In the video entitled “Thank You,” the Imagination Movers pay tribute to their fans with a compilation of still photos and video footage of the band and their audience, beginning with images from the days when the group was performing at backyard parties, through more recent scenes of the now nationally known band’s US concert, playing to thousands of fans.

Editor Todd Isaacs was asked to cut the “Thank You” video in a style reminiscent of the multiple split-screen opening titles of the TV series “Parks and Recreation,” and then given free rein to shape the style and content.  Working on Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7, Isaacs began by selecting the best segments from the group’s previous DVDs.

“I watched the opening sequence of ‘Parks and Recreation’ a couple of times for inspiration, and then began to plan how to integrate that concept with the music and the footage.  I also listened to the song a number of times and visualized the edit based on the beats in the music,” Isaacs explains.  “I wove the edit together, starting at the beginning and taking it a step at a time until a rough cut was done.  The client viewed it, made some suggestions and after a few tweaks everyone was thrilled with the final results.”

The complexity of the movements of the multiple split screens required Isaacs, and C+S editor Matthew Kroese, to come up with an innovate approach to rendering out the edit without compromising the visual integrity of the cut. C+S colorist, SUE provided valuable guidance for Isaac’s color correction, which he performed within Final Cut, suggesting he maintain “a keen eye for the little details that add up to make a big difference.”  Isaacs also used Adobe Illustrator to add graphics that enhanced the retrospective footage.

Another video, “Dance Kung Fu,” is a live-action retelling of the fairytale, “Little Red Riding Hood,” in which the Imagination Movers undertake a mission to bring cookies to grandma while evading a troop of Cookie Ninjas.  The actors and singers in the group play themselves, as well as the Cookie Ninjas/Kung Fu dancers.

The fast-paced storyline uses a ‘see-say’ approach to the lyrics, so CRASH+SUES editor Carrie Shanahan was tasked with getting the best action shots of the two groups, while keeping pace with the lyrics so young children could follow along.

“The director did an initial cut, which sped up nearly every shot in retro “Benny Hill” fashion.  That technique had a certain charm, but I thought it was too hectic for a young audience,” says Shanahan, who edited the video on Final Cut, assisted by Matthew Kroese. “My challenge was to tell the story in real-time while keeping pace with the lyrics.  We happened to have a colleague’s seven-year old in the office during the edit, so I had her watch a rough cut to make sure she was getting the story.  She was – and thought it was ‘very funny’ so I felt I was going my job!”

Several of the scenes in the “Dance Kung Fu” video featured in-camera effects and required some editorial finessing to support the illusion that the Movers and Kung Fu dancers were interacting.  Shanahan also had to lip synch four characters as they ran and danced.  SUE did the color correction on the Nucoda System Ryan Wheeler performed the online and Alex Engelmann crafted the opening animation.

“REMEMBER WHEN” was the ‘fan’ video on the new DVD, which means fans sent in videos of themselves, in the hopes of making it into the song,’ notes CRASH+SUES’ Eric Riggs, the editor of the video. “Not only do these guys have a huge fan base, but they are creative too!  Their fans are a testament to the innovative and original music they put out.”

“I used to live in New Orleans, where the band is from, and I have a young son, so I was excited to work on the project,” adds Shanahan.  “The Imagination Movers were a pleasure to work with and sent us a ‘King Cake’ after the wrap — a local delicacy with a little plastic baby baked inside.   If you get the slice of cake with the baby, you have to throw the next party.  I got the baby so the next party’s on me!”

“One thing we pride ourselves on is writing and performing all of our songs (over 200),” says Imagination Group member, Scott Durban.” This DVD is about real guitars, real drums and real fun – coupled with incredible artistic contribution by CRASH+SUES’ team that brought our songs to life visually for our fans.”

The DVD production used the talents of every member of the CRASH+SUES’ collaborative team, and has helped raise the public profile of the Imagination Movers. While the band is in the midst of a four-month concert tour of North America and abroad, viewers can still catch original episodes and old favorites of the Imagination Movers television series airing daily on the brand new 24-hour Disney Junior Network.

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