Print with Light
A short music video for Inkodye
The making of “Print with Light”
Directed and edited by JP Bolles, videography by Garrett Shannon, featuring Jesse Genet. Conceived and produced by me.
For the launch of the Inkodye Kickstarter campaign (2012), I wanted to collaborate with my friends at Sandwich Video to make something special. Because the Inkodye printing process is relatively complex, we felt the need to create a self-contained explainer to complement the pitch video.
It went viral, and was a big part of making the Kickstarter campaign a blockbuster for its time, raising $268,437. There are a few ideas that came together independently to make the video work:
- The setting
- The split-screen
- The 3:1 ratio
- The music
- The color palette
I love looking back on this video as an example of something interesting you can create with virtually zero budget and a limited timeframe.
The video is shot in three main locations: the Theater District in downtown Los Angeles, an early Inkodye office at the Brewery and my apartment in the Arts District. I fell in love with the Art Deco buildings of downtown while studying industrial design at Art Center. The Eastern Columbia building in particular (featured in blue), is one of my favorite pieces of architecture. How often do you see a teal skyscraper?
All the shots in the first twenty seconds (except the blue building at 0:09) take place within a block of each other. There is so much variety in color and architecture on that street, it helped us capture the footage within a couple hours.
Split-screen is one of my favorite filmmaking techniques because it requires nothing more than a little bit of planning and editing skill to create something interesting. I was inspired by Quentin Tarantino and Michel Gondry’s use of split-screen and wanted to try it out. As a kid growing up in Paris in the 90s, I was inspired by Gondry’s DIY techniques since seeing his music video for Daft Punk’s Around the World. Because DIY was the ethos of Inkodye, it felt natural to emulate his style.
The 3:1 ratio
The packaging for the first Inkodye kit was a square box (seen at 00:27), so I thought of using a square as the aspect ratio. It may be hard to recall, but until 2015, Instagram only allowed the square format and had just begun allowing for videos. Since we had three colors at launch and wanted to try the split-screen effect, three squares made sense.
I was very intrigued by the idea of creating a series of videos with square-based aspect ratios, such as 1:1, and 1:2 (two squares one on top of the other), but never followed up on this idea. We live in a time with such a wide variety of display sizes and shapes, there is no particularly good reason to stick with the standard 16:9. Try something weird!
My sister Domitille and I were sharing musical discoveries when she made me listen to the song Raid the Radio by French electronic group General Electriks. The video was still in the earliest concept phase, but I knew it would have a 3:1 ratio with three squares. The song immediately clicked because of its very distinctive cadence that progresses in threes.
Knowing the song before we started shooting was pivotal because it helped us storyboard the segments and figure out the pace of each shot while we were filming.
The lyrics felt completely in line with what we were trying to say:
Raid the radio! ‘Cause we’re tired of hearing the same old song. We’re gonna change the dial to something new, and bring some truth to this town.
Ironically, I ended up hearing the song thousands of times as the video looped at the Inkodye booth during a string of trade shows I staffed between 2012 and 2014.
We considered licensing the song, but chickened out for fear they would decline, or ask for more than we could afford (zilch). Instead we credited the song at the end and linked to their iTunes page wherever we could. I wouldn’t recommend this approach, but it worked, we never got a takedown notice.
The color palette
When we launched Inkodye on Kickstarter, it was only available in three colors: red, orange and blue. These just happened to be the first three colors we perfected.
It seems so obvious in retrospect, but we didn’t realize how far we could go with matching the colors of the scenes with the Inkodye colors until we were in the midst of shooting in downtown. I don’t think we envisioned it being possible until we realized how colorful the neighborhood is. Once we locked in on that idea, it became an exciting egg hunt to go capture Jesse walking across each color.
Adam Lisagor, the founder of Sandwich Video, had the brilliant idea of changing the streetlights in the first scene to red, orange and blue. I initially objected to it, because it seemed too magical to fit in with the other effects that were intentionally done in-camera. Now I see it as essential to keeping the internal consistency of the video and immediately piquing the viewer’s curiosity. I love it. This also led digitally coloring the dials on the darkroom timers at 00:41.