It's been viewed more than 27 million times (and counting) — and a few hundred thousand more times on Upworthy and other sites — so there's a decent chance you've already watched this video. But there's so much more to know about it.
In just over 3 minutes, it conveys a tear-worthy message about love — and about bias.
Even though the "Love Has No Labels" video is short, it was two months in the making, especially the technology, which was a feat in and of itself.
Brian Emerson, who has worked in all areas of animation over the last 14 years and specialized in rigging and R&D for the video, talked me through how he and the rest of the team created it, sharing a message about love we can all ponder.
First of all, contrary to the assumptions made in the comments for the video, the people featured in the video weren't standing behind a giant X-ray screen — it just looked that way. (No radiation necessary for this video!) So how did they make the dancing skeletons happen?
The group that produced it broke into two teams — the live performance part was run by the company Mindride (Emerson worked under them), and a documentary team that directed shot and edited the video.
If you're picking up that something like this had never been done before and that the team had to design from scratch how to record and display the images we see on the video, you've got it right. It's not technology they could just pull out of a box — though they were able to use existing components from the movie industry and modified them for the project.
And of course all the skeleton-people (including different-sized folks, including kids) had to be unique and identifiable, meaning that the necessary level of detail had to be fairly high.
“I modified skeleton models to achieve the X-ray look and make them ready to receive the motion from the actors. The rest of my role was about developing a pipeline and building all the controls needed to make everything happen in realtime on set. We had the ability to puppeteer the hands and jaws and move and scale the characters to line up with each other and with the real actors," says Emerson.
Even with a couple of months to prepare before the Feb. 14 filming, the tech team was small and moved quickly. For a project of this scope, this is actually a pretty short deadline. And the process had to be seamless, since they weren't just filming a video, but also putting on a live event.
"Everything was happening in real time, so it had to run as smoothly as possible. A lot of time was spent in rehearsal. We had to bulletproof the process, and technology," says Emerson.
It's a tremendous amount of work — besides the months of design trial and error, there was rehearsal, and the day-of recording at what was a live event in front of a crowd.
And then a couple weeks of editing to get everything just right. But Emerson says it was worth it:
Though Emerson loved the project, he had no idea how much it would blow up online.
Of course there's more than just the video. “The underlying theme is that there are these hidden biases that we're unaware of. There’s a quiz on the site to help you see where those are and the idea is to shine light on your own bias.”
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