film music analysis

The Music of "When You Believe"

One of the most powerful songs I ever have heard comes from “The Prince of Egypt”. It has brought me to tears on far more than one occasion (such as now, oops), and no matter how often I listen to it, the song maintains an incredible force that makes it, to my eyes as a working music composer myself, one of the greatest songs throughout animation.

The strength of this song comes from the combination of well-written lyrics plus the musical choices accompanying those lyrics. The composers (Stephen Schwartz and Hans Zimmer) very intentionally, very successfully aligned the deep emotions of the words with equally powerful music. By exploiting the effects of instrumentation, the shape of the melody line, musical key, and the lyrics, listeners are taken through a deep, emotion-wrought narrative of the Hebrews beginning the Exodus.

In Darkness

The start of “When You Believe” is very dark, moaning deep in the cellos and other low voices of the orchestra. For indeed, while Moses has just learned the Hebrews have been freed of their slavery from Egypt, it comes at an enormous price: the death of many Egyptians including his nephew, as well as a break in the bond between himself and his brother. There thus is a darkness to the music and the animation on the screen to match that dark event which is occurring in Moses’ life.

But even when Miriam begins to sing, the cityscape is still dark and the music retains its rich, dark ambiance. The instrumentation is mostly strings, especially the lower to mid-range. All is thick and solemn. On top of that, the melody is within the minor mode, a musical scale that is known for sounding more somber and sad than the major scale. This use of minor adds a weight and sadness to her words, continuing on that sense of darkness.

There’s a symbolic reason to cast that sense of aural shadow. Miriam’s words in the first verse sing of a darkness, too, within the Hebrews’ lives. “Many nights we prayed, with no proof anyone could hear,” she begins. There is a sense of hopelessness and darkness in her words, and the music likewise provides the sense that the lives of the slaves were cast in psychological powerlessness. The melody even drifts downward over the first line of the verse, the pitches descending with the line, metaphorically depicting downcast spirits.

If the music had been brighter and more upbeat, it would have emphasized the fact the Hebrews prayed vigilantly; however, with the deep strings and minor descending melody, audiences understand the oppressive hopelessness that crushed the peoples’ existence.

There are only slight hints of hope in the within the first verse, especially at the start. The first twinkle of hope within the darkness comes in the second line, “In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood." 

Notice that the music rises before sinking downward again. The words peak on the word "hopeful,” in fact, with a dramatic leap up to the final syllable. There’s a sound of a song in that peaking interval (a fourth) which is associated with many types of folk musics from around the world, and that jump upward is a notable spark of hope to the ears. The song might still be cast in a dark minor melody, and that “hopeful song” might fall again to lower musical pitches in the rest of the musical line, but that little spark nonetheless is very aurally noticeable and depicts that little spark the Hebrews clung to themselves.

Increasing Brightness

There is an increasing brightness as the verse continues. It aligns with the growing hope in the lyrics as well as the brightening colors animated on the screen. The third line of the melody is the same as the first, but it’s orchestrated differently. The clarinet and the flute enter, warming up the texture of the music in the accompaniment, corresponding to the much more optimistic lyric, “Now we are not afraid.” This time, when the pitches fall at the end of the line, “even though there’s much to fear,” it gives a sense of determination rather than hopelessness.

And then the fourth and final line of the verse pulls forward an even greater transformation.

We have another symbolic rise - through a technique called “text painting” - in which the word “mountains” is musically described through the upward jump of pitches. The word “mountains” is a peak in the musical line, just as a mountain is a peak in the landscape. Corresponding visually, the viewers see pyramids and other grand Egyptian structures. These might not be mountains, but the enormity of those monuments is indeed something incredible to move. Suddenly, then, the Hebrews’ lives of slavery are not just torment and despair, but a demonstration of the strength of the people.

And look above at that final note in the verse. It moves upward, leading to the chorus, and showing an enormous growth of hope.

There Can be Miracles

Suddenly, there is sunrise. And Miriam is smiling. And people are coming together. And hope blossoms. And the music in the chorus sings it all: “There can be miracles when you believe. Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill. Who knows what miracles you can achieve? When you believe, somehow you will. You will when you believe.”

The song changes keys to equate that shift in mood. The verse is in e minor, a very dark key orchestrationally that makes the music sound incredibly weighty and somber and allows composers to frequently use some of the lowest pitches the instruments can play. But then this song shifts to G major in the chorus. This is one of the brightest keys an orchestra can play (There are lots of “open strings” in this key, meaning that the strings in the violins, violas, cellos, and basses reverberate a lot more and sound very bright and rich). G major and e minor all use the same pitches, but to very different effects. In the same way, there is a shift from the content of the verse to the chorus, even though the material Miriam discusses is similar. It is a shift from unactualized hope to the experience of a miracle. And thus a shift from darkness to lightness occurs both within her words, within the sunrise of the animation, and within the change of mood in the music.  

The melody itself is very hopeful. Every single line of the melody, beginning with, “There can be miracles,” moves upward. The pitches always rise from start to end, showing enormous optimism.

Text painting also happens again; that is, the music shapes itself in ways to symbolically correlate to the meaning of the lyrics. The word “miracles” has an enormous rise in it, just like the words “hopeful” and “mountains." 

The word "believe” similarly receives a climactic high pitch, showing its greatness and importance.

The word “frail,” by contrast, is sung with an enormous drop downward in pitch, aurally creating a sense of weakness.

Even when the syllables occur in the music is very well placed and gives a sense of optimism and determination.

There is a sense of pulse in music. Some pulses are a lot heavier than others, and these are called “downbeats.” If you look at the pictures of musical notation I have, the “downbeats” happen with the first and third black notes of every measure (a measure is a chunk of music that is separated by those vertical lines). Every time you hit a downbeat, then, there is a sense of more power. And notice what words hit the downbeats in this music. Words like “can” and “hope”. In the line, “it’s hard to kill,” both “hard” and “kill” receive the musical metrical emphasis. What does this do? It emphasizes the greatest of what happened, shows that miracles can and in fact just have happened. It brings confidence to the lyrics.

The dotted rhythms create even more confidence within the melody line.

Altogether, then, the entirety of the chorus screams hope.

Continuation of Narrative

The second verse returns to the dark minor key that audiences heard in the first verse. Zipporah is speaking of the Hebrews’ experience of slavery in the lyrical narrative, thus requiring a thicker atmosphere to the music. We hear a little bit of song again in the rise of pitch with the words “summer bird,” as well as that fall of hope when subsequently she sings “too swiftly flown away.”

Paralleling the first verse, a similar growth from dark to light again occurs with the lyrics and the music in the second verse. And thus we move from despair to cheer as she sings: “In this time of fear, when prayer so often proves in vain hope seems like the summer birds, too swiftly flown away. Yet now I’m standing here, my heart so full I can’t explain, seeking faith and speaking words I’d never thought I’d say.” When Miriam adds a duet, a further sense of hope grows, for the people are coming together to begin the Exodus, traveling to freedom.

The second chorus is even musically bigger than the first, the visuals brighter, the hope more powerful. We see the Exodus happening now. There are people leaving. The miracle is here, it is happening, and the growth of music augments that.

The Children’s Song

Children begin singing, showing such a sense of hope as can be equaled by nothing else. The Bible indeed speaks of a child’s faith being great - not to mention the association with children is very positive and bright. The music is still in happy G major, though it also uses some pitches like C natural that never have been used before, making the music sound even brighter. The melody dances, and so do the people.

It is even more powerful when you know what the kids are saying.

It is part of a poem actually in the Bible seen in Exodus 15: 1, 11, and 13. Not only are these Hebrew lyrics actually in the Bible, but they are recorded as the song that Miriam and Aaron themselves sang when they were leaving Egypt. This is the song, guys! The legitimate words they sang in this event.

אָשִׁירָה לַה’ כִּי-גָאֹה גָּאָה 
מִי כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם ה’ מִי כָּמֹכָה נֶאְדָּר בַּקֹּדֶשׁ 
נָחִיתָ בְחַסְדְּךָ עַם-זוּ גָּאָלְתָּ 

Ashira laadonay ki gao gaa 
Ashira laadonay ki gao gaa
Mi chamocha baelim adonay
Mi kamocha needar bakodesh 
Nakhita vekhasdecha am zu gaalta 
Nakhita vekhasdecha am zu gaalta 
Ashira ashira ashira

So that’s all well and good to see the text in another language, but what does it mean in English?

Check it out:

I will sing unto the Lord, for He is highly exalted 
Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the mighty? who is like unto Thee, glorious in holiness 
Thou in Thy love hast led the people that Thou hast redeemed

In another translation that sounds a bit less archaic:

I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.
Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you - majestic in holiness?
In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.

This song is one of being saved by God and thanking him for the miracle. And the music expands and everyone begins singing and an almost giddy happiness results when the song spins faster and faster.

The Power of Belief

The final chorus explodes in full choir. It is the voice now of the entire Hebrew people belting out faith and awe at what has happened. Not only that, but the music rises in pitch, bursting to A major. The music reaches an all-time dramatic high in terms of sheer force of musicians playing in singing, in terms of the highest pitches sung, and in terms of volume. 

The music climaxes in power - to the full power of belief. To the full glory of this miracle. What has happened has just changed millions of lives. Millions of lives are free and singing praise.

It is hard to believe now that the song began in such a dark corner, sounding so futile and depressed and hopeless. But through the incredible narration of sound and lyrics, everyone by the end of the song understand - understands full well - “There can be miracles when you believe.”


This is the first of two new videos today. Watch this one first.

Off the top of your head, could you sing the theme from Star Wars? How about James Bond? Or Harry Potter? But here’s the kicker: can you sing any theme from a Marvel film? Despite 13 films and 10 billion dollars at the box office, the Marvel Cinematic Universe lacks a distinctive musical identity or approach. So let’s try to answer the question: what is missing from Marvel music?

This video was made by
Brian Satterwhite:
Taylor Ramos:
Tony Zhou:

Elle est ce genre de fille à aimer l'audio visuel. À aimer analyser les pubs, les clips, les courts métrages, les dessins animés, (surtout les miyazaki), et enfin, bien entendu, les films. C'est ce qu'elle préfère les films. Mais les clips c'est pas mal non plus parfois.
Elle aime deviner ce que le réalisateur cherche à nous dire. Ce que personne ne voit, ce que personne ne cherche à deviner. Sortir du premier degré. Même si elle sait que d'autres personnes aiment faire ça aussi. Elle se sent pourtant unique à tenter de chercher les détails, les rapports, les coïncidences. Mais elle sait qu'elle est pas unique.
Elle aime deviner la fin du film alors que ce ne sont que les vingts premières minutes de celui-ci.
Elle aime le fait qu'au cinéma rien n'est laissé au hasard. Au cinéma tout peut se faire. Alors pourquoi ces choix? Elle aime répondre à cette dernière question.. pourquoi le réalisateur a choisi ce cadrage? Ce son? Cette lumière? Cette couleur? Tout est réfléchi. Elle aime ça, les symboliques.
Elle ne regarde plus les films comme avant. Elle a apprit à regarder une histoire tout en analysant la technique.
Elle se fait des films aussi dans sa tête. Surtout quand elle écoute les musiques de son ipod. Qu'est ce qu'elle ferait sur cette chanson? Les couleurs? Les plans? Gros ou éloignés? Traveling? Plan fixe? Caméra à l'épaule? Et là pour ce couplet ? Pour cette histoire? Pour ses mots ?
Sa vie elle la voit comme un film. (Elle vous l'a déjà dit dans un article précédent.). Et quand elle a tenté, à plusieurs reprises, de mettre fin à tout dans un élan de désespoir, au bout d'une vingtaine de minutes, elle se disait, “je ne veux pas de cette fin, c'est pourrie comme fin.” Réalisatrice ratée. Mais réalisatrice de sa vie tout de même. Alors elle continue. Pour voir la vraie fin.

Parce qu'elle sait pas pour toi petit lecteur de tumblr, mais pour elle, ça sera:
la tête haute, et un poing sur la table, et l'autre en l'air, fais lui confiance, avant d'finir 6 pieds sous terre, elle aura vécu tout c'qui a à vivre, et elle aura fait tout c'qu'elle peut faire, tenter tout c'qui a à tenter et surtout, et surtout elle aura aimé.

Her and it’s lineage in the 21st century “anti”-Romcom

This essay contains potential spoilers.

About this time ten years ago, two decade defining “Rom-coms” were released at around the same time and broke a million hearts all over. Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation signified a modern update of the well worn and a change in the taste of cinema-goers. Here were two films rooted in a traditionally mainstream and vacuous genre which forged an original standpoint, which was recognised both in Academy nominations, critic responses and impressive audiences, for films of their budget and size.

To argue then that Her, the new film by Spike Jonze, is an updated amalgamation of those two films shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. In it’s plot and concept, there are clear parallels and influences from those monumental heart-breakers. Her shares Eternal Sunshine’s vaguely sci-fi element; being set in the not too distant future and showing the consequences of utilising modern, semi-fictional, technology as a solution to human relationships, and Lost in Translation’s theorising of latter-aged relationships and stunning cinematography thanks to magical yet alienating Tokyo, which here is a perpetually sun-drenched and bleached out Los Angeles, occasionally stood in for by Shanghai.

But aside from that, Spike Jonze also has a fairly personal connection to both those films, which almost certainly has influenced the production of Her. This was Jonze’s first largely solo-penned film (more on that later), but he has also spoken openly about taking influence from his long term collaborator Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) for his writing on Eternal Sunshine and Synecdoche, New York.

As for his relationship with Lost in Translation, well that much is painfully clear. Many speculated that Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson; another connection)’s husband John (Giovanni Ribisi) was based on Jonze, as the film was shot and released shortly after his divorce with director Sofia Coppola. While Coppola denies this, the themes of unsatisfied love cannot be ignored in her film, or indeed Jonze’s.

For Her largely follows the same lineage of unresolved love as those two, and manages to bring “their” themes of alienated individuals in modern-day metropolises into one film. Central to Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Pheonix)’s motives in Her is his inability to come to terms with his divorce to childhood sweetheart Catherine (an ice cold Rooney Mara), and finds escapism in a new Operating System which, for a while at least, fulfils his every need. This is consistent with Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet)’s treacherous and vengeful deleting of each other from their memories only to repeat the cycle, and Bob Harris (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Johansson)’s mutual love fuelled by their frustrations with their respective partners. In both examples, through memory erasing techniques and flânerie to strange and distant, modern, cities, the characters are unsatisfied and unsure of themselves, literally lost in their fallible human relationships.

Jonze’s Her however goes one step further, perhaps as it has the benefit of hindsight of ten years on Kaufman and Coppola’s scripts, but ultimately it successfully fully explores this “modern love story” to such a full potential that it questions the human condition itself. Because although Her central conceit is one involving man falling in love with a computer, Jonze dares us, through his own personal experiences and inspiration, to question all “loving” relationships.

Much of what makes Her a fascinating narrative is what is happening on the periphery of the frame, which connects to Tokyo in Lost in Translation. While that is a present day text, Tokyo is one of the most brutally technologically advanced cities in the world, something Bob and Charlotte are reminded at every turn as they immerse themselves but never really connect with their surroundings. Here, near-future LA has advanced to the point where the metropolis is largely uniform, hence why Shanghai can easily supplement it for certain scenes. The modifications to the city’s landscape, apartment and it’s inhabitants’ fashion tastes are constantly present, but given the majority of those on screen would rather be looking at their phones, an all too familiar image, it’s easy to miss these little touches.

‘Love’ as unrealistic

There is a key line about 2/3rds through Her delivered by Theodore’s friend and neighbour Amy (Adams) in which she states:

“Falling in love is a crazy thing to do. It’s kind of like a form of socially acceptable insanity.”

This will ring true to anyone who’s been invested and disappointed by love (i.e: everyone at some point in their lives) but it’s a crucial moment in the film. Here is the first moment Theo realises he shares Amy’s disappointment, having now both had their human relationships dissolved and are finding comfort in technological alternatives (Amy also uses the OS system but is simply “close friends” with hers’) and begins the eventual move to the film’s climax.

Amy’s assertion is important because it realises that the act of “falling in love” is a socially accepted, indeed, encouraged, act which is almost expected of us as humans, but also acknowledges that it is essentially a fallacious type of “insanity”. The fact that in the film’s near-future world, love has progressed to the stage of loving inanimate objects is pre-supposed as a new normal, shows that these flawed humans in society are adapting and evolving just as much as the OS system does, despite being at rapidly different rates.

This idea drives the central relationship of Theodore and his Operating System “Samantha” and therefore the film’s ironic title. Throughout, Theodore is consistently shown as a deeply flawed individual, but his endearing charm is what keeps him relatable and human. In many ways, Jonze employs the typically novelistic “unreliable focaliser” trope with Theodore, an incredibly difficult thing to capture on film, as he is a man who right up until the final scene of the film is a man who is deeply lacking in emotional engagement.

From the film’s opening, we see Theodore’s expressing this lack; constantly having flashbacks of his estranged wife, failing to recognise the irony in writing falsified, meaningless love-letters for people who don’t have the time, calling sex-chat lines, and importantly, seeing an advert for the OS system which briefly changes his life. Jonze handles the relationship Theodore has with his computer delicately and masterfully; over the course of the film we get a snap-shot of a typical relationship: introduction > establishing shared interests > flirting > admitting feelings > consummation > honeymoon period > growing apart > dissolution.

Except, none of this really happens in the normal sense. Or at least, as the computer is not a human, but artificially intelligent, it can only engage in ways it has been programmed, which is by the film’s setting so advanced that it actually mimics and evolves every time it interacts with Theodore, or anyone else, until it grows too advanced for it’s master and leaves. So while it may suggest that it’s having “human thoughts and feelings” the only human in this particular relationship is Theodore, which shifts the action significantly to his motives. Anything “Samantha” has learnt and relays to Theodore has been projected onto her by him, initiated by the screening questions the OS asks while Theodore is installing it, like a dating website would today, and otherwise learnt from the 8,316 other people “Samantha” engages with (and 641 it also loves), much as millions upload and share their feelings to social media websites every day.

Jonze makes this distinction of unrealistic love explicitly, but as it is told from the focal point of Theodore’s recently divorced, unrelenting mind, it is easy to miss in the midst of the “love” which “helps” him. Early on in their relationship, “Samantha” explains how she is programmed by thousands of developers and that she

can understand how the limited perspective of an unartificial mind might perceive [Theodore’s confusion] that way. You’ll get used to it.

She tells Theodore this right from the off, but his reaction is to laugh it off, because he clearly attracted and intrigued by her voice in his sorrowful mood. Thus, Theodore and “Samantha’s” conversations increasingly sound like excerpts from his love-letters, because she has consumed and learned them within split-seconds, making her assertions that she can be human as false as the love professed by those who’ve hired Theodore.

As he struggles to come to terms with the dissolution of his marriage, he selfishly believes that a computer could ever really love him, not seeing that, like his love-letters for other people, because he’s unwilling to accept that perhaps he is at fault for the divorce. His ex-wife Catherine is shown to us almost entirely in flashback, and in her only present day scene, quite rightly loses any fondness their distance had created, when he tells her he is in a relationship with his OS. She is unsurprised by it, claiming it’s perfect for Theodore as “Samantha” is the archetypal “unattainable woman” and thus can’t be ruined by his selfishness, as it is largely created by it. Here, Catherine exposes it as a ridiculous concept, but an increasingly understandable one, as humans turn ever-frequently towards technology of a means of self-indulgent escape from other humans, who we will always inevitably disappoint or vice versa.

This links directly to Eternal Sunshine’s Joel, who’s act of bitter revenge in erasing present-day Clementine becomes a tragic mistake when he realises it means erasing all the happy, past memories, only to wake up and begin the cycle again. It is an unrealistic solution but due to man’s fallible nature which he only realises until too late.

'Love’ as flawed, human, mortal and as resolution

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In Her we’re to compare this unreal relationship with Theodore’s nameless (dehumanised) blind date (played by the seemingly omnipresent Olivia Wilde) whom “Samantha” implores he sees before he mentions anything about being sexually unfulfilled. The date starts promisingly but ends dreadfully due to Theodore’s commitment issues and self-imposed emotional scarring, as thoughts of his wife and of “Samantha” rattle around disturbing his mind. When Theodore returns home to “Samantha” he feels sorry for himself and talks about how he just wanted to be sexually fulfilled as a short term solution to his problems leading to “Samantha” dutifully obliging by engaging “sexually” with him. 

Crucially, this cannot continue, partly because it’s unhealthy, but largely as aforementioned, “Samantha” is such an advanced piece of artificial intelligence that is only growing smarter and more powerful to the point that she outgrows simple human interaction. There is an important moment where “Samantha” makes a joke to Theodore and his friends that as humans they’re all going to die, showing how impossible their relationship is.  This is to be compared to Amy’s realisation after her break-up that:

I’ve just come to realize that, we’re only here briefly. And while I’m here, I wanna allow myself joy. So fuck it.

This is what leads to Theodore finally understanding the error of his ways, once “Samantha” and the other OS’s have left, writing the first legitimately endearing letter of the whole narrative to his ex-wife, and taking Amy up to their apartment block’s rooftop to finally gaze upon something other than a computer screen. The final scene is still fairly ironic; rather than some great scene of natural beauty, Theodore and Amy are in fact together taking in the futuristic city-scape which has been omnipresent throughout, like Sofia Coppola’s Tokyo. However it is still an acceptance that while human love may bring disappointments and lack assurances, given we never know what will come, if anything, of theirs or our relationships, it is still a vital part of the human condition and it’s mortality, which makes it a powerful dénouement.


It is unsurprising that Her won best screenplay at the Golden Globes, and while it is nominated for 5 Oscars (including best film) it is unlikely to win much different there. In a year where 12 Years a Slave happened, there is potentially no shame in that, but for all of the excellent, semi-autobiographical, writing of Spike Jonze, with help from Charlie Kaufman and Amy Adams (who reportedly help flesh out her character), this would suggest the film is more than the sum of it’s parts. While perhaps due to the nature of a dialogue-heavy film where half the action takes place off screen, it may not be that surprising there has been no actor/actress nominations, it still seems a shame that given the delicate subtleties of the role, neither Joaquin Pheonix or Scarlett Johansson have been given a nod (Adams has a thoroughly deserved one for American Hustle.) Intriguingly, British audiences don’t seem to have taken to Her as uniformly positive as American, reflected in its complete snub from the BAFTAs.

One final point, Her is Academy nominated for Best Original Score, provided by Arcade Fire and their long-time collaborator Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy) and it stands a strong chance of winning. Given all the action and design of the film, it’s possibly easy to miss the beautiful score which is rumbling along underneath, and it is interesting to find out that Arcade Fire’s 'Supersymmetry’ was originally written for this before it appeared as the closing track off of last years’ Reflektor album. The use of soundtrack places Her among these (for lack of a better term) “anti-romcoms” as, aside from being a director who is very experienced in combining music with motion pictures, this feels remarkably similar to Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine’s contributions to Coppola’s film (EDIT: or Beck’s to Eternal Sunshine). While their divorce clearly rings true in both films, it is often in much more subtle fashions that their influence on each other becomes apparent.

The Killers music video for “Bones”, Directed by Tim Burton, uses celluloid effects (grain, dust and scratching) to separate the diegesis of the drive-in-cinema where the band are playing (which is implied as the same reality as ours) from the diegesis of the movie that is playing in that cinema (a movie within this video).

As the video goes on, everyone in the diegesis where the band is playing remove their skins too blurring the line between reality and film.

The implication is that the film is reality too, there is not much difference. The celluloid effects served as an intermedial skin between diegetic reality and actual reality. Yet in this video, all the skins are removed.
Here, we see the ontological rift that film creates; in a digital age, what is real when special effects, CGI and movie magic can make anyything real?

anonymous asked:

i've been reading truly dreadful music and film analysis for a paper all day and that fucking reddit dude can do over to the corner with all these awful dull music critics who wouldn't know french new wave from donnie darko if it bit them in the ass. i hate pretension and i love sufjan eli

i don’t know anything about music analysis i just like the chewy sounds but i respect, admire, and love you


This is a supplement to THE MARVEL SYMPHONIC UNIVERSE. It’s the second of two new videos today. Watch the other video first.

This video was made by
Brian Satterwhite:
Taylor Ramos:
Tony Zhou: