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Posted 2011/01/04 at 23:03 | By: Gregg | Tags: Isaac Brock, Video

All images courtesy of The Saline Project.

As most of you now know, back in March 2008, New York collective The Saline Project released a music video for Modest Mouse's Fly Trapped In A Jar.

At the time we described the release as "silent," mainly because no one in the community had any heads up this was coming, nor had it received any prior publicity from the band or their label. The video would be taken down shortly after, but not before being distributed amongst Modest Mouse fans, and nothing more would be said about it for almost three years.

Director/Artist Adam Toht (who also apparently lent his features to the alien in the video) was kind enough to take some time to write to us and share some details on the making of the video, and tell us what exactly went wrong.

As huge fans of Modest Mouse we were ecstatic to be offered the chance to make a video for one of the tracks from We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.

For "Fly Trapped in a Jar" we kept seeing a band of identical extraterrestrials led by Isaac's alien counterpart. We loved this idea of creating a single-shot video set in a bright, tweaked take on a Seussian world. We saw Fly Trapped in a Jar as more of a performance than a standard music video, so we wrote it, pitched it and were awarded the job.

Because we had a minimal budget, we piggybacked our green screen shoot with Isaac onto another shoot Modest Mouse were doing at the time. We mocked up an alien outfit so that Isaac could play with the character and the alien's body type. It was a fun, super short shoot and we brought the footage back to New York and began what we thought would be a relatively normal post process. We shot the backup band, with their performances taking cues from Isaac's, and began building out the candy-colored world and its inhabitants. That's when we began to realize how time-consuming the process was going to be.

A full five minutes of animation equals about 7000 frames of animation for each of 25 different dancing, instrument-playing, face-making little dudes. It was an insane undertaking. Even worse, as great as the individual character tests looked to us, the label and the band, once put in a single frame, our painstakingly animated little guys seemed to cancel each other out onscreen.

It was like a black hole, the more work we put in, the more the video seemed to be sucking the life out of itself. So we asked for more time and put in what ended up being a few more months of work, only to submit a locked off camera version that everyone hated. It was brutal. So other jobs came in and we switched off between these projects and endless iterations of Fly Trapped in a Jar.

As frustrating as all of this was, we knew there had to be a great video in there. All the individual elements, the song, Isaac's performance, and our beloved aliens, were each too killer to result in something boring and static. Finally, with a version that seemed like a better video (we may have been losing a little perspective), we knew we had to put the project to bed. We re-submitted it to the label and... heard nothing.

Weeks went by, and as Adam explains, a small lapse in judgment would see the project shelved.

And that's when we did a really stupid thing.

We posted a version of Fly Trapped in a Jar to our site. We were up for several jobs with a similar aesthetic and salineproject.com serves as our main portfolio. And before we rubbed two brain-cells together and realized the kind of impact any new Modest Mouse video naturally has, Fly Trapped in a Jar was all over the web. Pitchfork posted it, bloggers blogged it, Rolling Stone wrote it up... and our production company called us to say that the record label was (rightfully) furious and wanted the video pulled immediately.

That was one of the shittiest days our group has ever had. We apologized our asses off to Isaac, the record label and our reps, and wiped the video from the web as fast as we could.

And then Fly Trapped in a Jar was sat on a shelf for over two years.

And then we decided this wasn't going to fly. And we opened up the project again and started working on the video again.

(Because we are crazy.)

And it got really good.

And years after the early version was leaked we got in touch with Isaac and talked about the possibility of releasing the video again, and Isaac was totally down and loved the idea that this was more of a short film, more of an "An Alien Musical," and Fly Trapped in a Jar was officially released!

The completed video was finally released in December 2010, and Adam, his producer/artist/brother Ben, and the other members of The Saline Project seem to be really ecstatic with their finished project.

Amazingly, it resulted in one of the best things we've ever done. People love this thing; people hate this thing. We love it and are so grateful that we had a chance to make and (finally!) release it.

To view the completed video, check out the song's page or watch it on The Saline Project's website.

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