✨ Creative Output ✨

by Kevin Parry

Weekly insights from an artist making global ads in his basement.

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Weekly insights from an artist making global ads in his basement.

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Find the Edit

Mar 7, 2024

Mar 7, 2024

Creative Thought Process

I've always described my style of visual effects trickery as 'digital sleight of hand.' I boldly sneak in hidden cuts and then challenge you to find them, much like a deck of cards being manipulated right under your nose.

Most people watch my videos several times in an attempt to see how it was done, kind of like the online version of 'do the trick again.'

However, there's always been something missing from my videos to complete the analogy: starting with, 'Do you want to see a card trick?'

I typically take a more low-key approach, making my videos appear to be a guy randomly filming himself before something incredibly magical happens. And that's worked. It definitely succeeds in surprising and delighting.

But I've found the drawback to be that I have to keep one-upping myself. If perfectly hidden, single cuts used to work, now I have to hide ten within a video to get the same impact; otherwise, it could look like I'm being lazy instead of exploring my own curiosities.

That got me thinking - what's my version of saying, "Do you want to see a card trick?"

It took a lot of experimentation to arrive at it (I'll write about that another day), but I decided to use voice-over and on-screen text to declare you're about to see a magical effect. Less emphasis on surprise and more on anticipation. Now it becomes a game of cat and mouse, where I have to use my editing skills to evade and hopefully manipulate your watchful eye.

I've taken creative detours in my visual effects before. I made this coffee tutorial where I snuck an invisible edit 20-seconds into the video. It worked because people are so used to me doing a trick within a few seconds, and this one felt like some random lifestyle video. So you're waiting and waiting for the magic, only to be fooled before you even know it. Now that I think about it, you can see how an elaborate coffee recipe falls into the category of one-upping myself.

Setting up the trick with a fun declaration makes total sense to me. Now I have an endlessly repeatable format where there's zero pressure to one-up myself. I can go back to 'easier' and 'simpler' editing because the focus is now on an interactive game between me and the audience. Hopefully something I can do more often and at a quicker pace, like a weekly game of figuring out the digital magic.

Creativity also exists in the conditions of life. I'm still in the first few months with my second child, meaning I can't tackle anything 'big' right now. And certainly nothing that would require me to film at a location or pack up gear. So this season of my creative work will have to lean into this much simpler, more repeatable format.

Making the Video

  1. Pick two similarly sized, shaped, and colored objects (in this case, a green balloon and watermelon).

  2. Decide where the invisible 'cut' needs to happen and choreograph it on a specific action.

  3. Perform that action with the first object, pause, swap the objects, and then redo that action with the second object.

  4. To make the cut completely invisible:

    • Remove the footage where you've 'paused' - hopefully the time jump isn't too jarring.

    • In Adobe After Effects, I selectively mask problem areas and blend them across the cut.

    • For difficult areas like faces, I use RunwayML's AI Frame Interpolation tool to create seamless blends.

Here's what it looked like filming this trick:

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