Playtime – an insane stop motion and live action Canon EOS 5D Mark II movie

by planetmitchLeave a Comment

Found this great Canon EOS 5D Mark II (reviews) video over on this tumbler page. It was directed by the same guy who worked on the Cinnamon Chasers video featured in this planet5D cinema post a while back. It was so awesome, we wrote to Saman Keshavarz (the writer/director) and asked for some background information – and he sent us a great story. First watch the video and then scroll down to learn about how they made it.

Redrock Micro


B. FLEISCHMANN presents PLAYTIME from Saman Keshavarz on Vimeo.

A short film/music video for B. Fleischmann's PLAYTIME track. **Shot entirely on the Canon 5D MkII**

Artist: B. Fleischmann (​)
Album: Angst Is Not A Weltanschauung
Label: Morr Music
© Morr Music (​)

Written/Directed By: Saman Keshavarz
Art Director: Evangeline Joo
Associate Producers: Francis Pollara
Cinemtography: Justin Gurnari
Editor: Nate Tam
Sound Designer: Ed Hobbs
Visual FX: Alessandro Schiassi
Graphics: Cosimo Galluzzi & Saman Keshavarz

Special Thanks: Nate Eggert, Julie Chen, Josh Patterson, Grace Zhang, Claire Kho, Daniel Teliants, James Kim, Mike Rios, Timmy NGO, Ian Kammer, Armen Perian, Yama Lake, Maria Biber, Chris Saul, Tom Lee, Romson Niega, Kathy Yoon, Darcy Ripley, Bob McKeon, Steven Butler


The background info from Saman

So it was a n00b little student filmmaker that reached out via fan mail to an artist in Austria. The artist was B. Fleischmann who gave the green light along with the label: Morr Music to do a probono video for a very random and obscure track off of their latest album (at the time). That n00b was I.

It was December of 2008 when I got the greenlight, I was 22, and still at Art Center College of Design. I had not finished a single project I was happy with at this point. As I was connecting and realizing I had no cash yet for the project, I worked on other projects at the time…mainly my Canon commercial I shot. After that I had enough confidence to go forth with this idea.

My Initial idea involved a man named JACK. Jack was a sociopathic school teacher that was trapped in his mind. His mind happened to be a square room that was 36 x40 feet. In his mind was a ton of real-time chaos that would happen in a one shot for the song's duration, with the set dressing changing each time we made a 360 degree turn. After trying to lock down art department and figure out how the “fuck” we were gonna shoot it, we went into building the stage. We blocked off around 150 parking spots and pissed off more students than that when they realized they had to spend 30 extra minutes finding parking: OOPS!

On July 9th, 2009. I experienced the worst day of my life…the day of the shoot. We ending up not walking away with a single usable shot as everything completely fell apart and I lost about 5 grand on the junk we recorded with our RED camera.

During the dark days after when realized I should not be living anymore, I was getting into the Canon EOS 5D Mark II that a fellow student cinematographer (Justin Gurnari) owned. It wasn't until I head the news of a firmware that would allow for manually adjustable exposure. This warmed my heart and I immediately was concepting again.

This was where I shot a ton of pickup footage for Playtime involving a little paper trick i pulled out of my button hole one morning when i woke up with a back ache. The technique here is a little secret of mine, but anybody smart that watches the video will see the trick, it is a very “Gondry-esque” trick that is ALL in camera and involves an eye that also understands editing, kinetic movement, and an understanding of visual reaction as is pertains to the language of moving images. Go read a ton of Walter Murch stuff if i sound like a crazy idiot 🙂 Long story short: study your victims, ummm i mean viewers, and basically understand what they pay attention to. I was able to realize that by isolating the subject with a simple flat background and having them rip through it abruptly. This caused a lapse in the viewers brain. That laps happens right when the cut happens and therefore the viewer will 95% of the time never see the cuts. Actually, they see it but their brain does not register the cut and merely ignores it because of the sudden location change. If that doesn't make any sense, just message me on Vimeo and we can have a “cheap tricks 101” session 😀 (All that was shot using the Canon EOS 5D Mark II using a Canon 24-70 zoom lens).

Anyways, after we shot it we realized we didn't have anything to attach it too… This was when I suddenly got swept up with another job: Luv Deluxe by Cinnamon Chasers. After shooting that video and seeing that so many people were liking my neurotic and manic energy, I had hope once again. I therefore, tried to resurrect playtime with the paper portal footage we had, and wrote a little stop motion story with it. It was about a box man lost inside his insanity. The irony of the story was that when the character finally reached sanity, it was actually a very soulless and “un-fun” place. Kind of a comment about loss of imagination these days and how boring “normality” can lead to a unhappy person: like box man.

We shot the stop motion on the week of January 7th, 2010. This was the most grueling process. I never thought I could be bored and stressed at the same time.

First off the building portion was a pain. My art director: Evangeline Joo was new to stop motion as was I so we had to figure it out together. Claymation, wire models and all that shit. I had a couple of animating friends come occasionally to give us a 101 when we were sucking ass. Basically, you just sit and animate all day, and then when ur ready to die…you sleep, and wake up and do it again. Of course we also had to find a space at school to do it, so we would have to re-route classes and try to trick people into giving us their space when we went over-time. It is that simple really: Snap a picture, move the characters, then snap again…rinse & repeat 10's of thousands of times. We also kind of did some of our own little cheap tricks (ie: sliding the set to fake a camera dolly move in order to keep the set in one peace or manually spinning lights one by one to create rotating distress lights etc etc).

(Footage shot with 5D mk II using 24-70mm lens again)

Right after shooting I got swept up into another project: Midnight Club for Russ Chimes. This was a huge project I was attached with for about 4 straight months because we were on such a shoe string budget and had to pull in MASSIVE amounts of favors. After we finished that I had planned to edit all of Playtime together, but then got swept up again with !!! (chk chk chk) video for their single: Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass. After that: I ignored the world and got right back on board. There were some visual effects we needed to implement to cover for my n00bie-ness back in 2009 (ie: the other box heads, color'd arrows, and of course the little video game hud stuff) PLAYTIME was finished on December 16th, 2010…Just in time for Graduation, then released early January 2010.

So… what do you think? Sound off in the comments below!

(Photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses

Leave a Comment