Saturday, November 15, 2008

ADVANCED LEAPFROG TECHNIQUES



ADVANCED LEAPFROG TECHNIQUES
Directed by Leah Nelson and Jay Grandin, United States, 2007, approx. 2 minutes.

Once you sift through all of the handheld videos of skating wipeouts, cute animal footage, and fandom music videos, personal experience has led me to believe that most online short film content falls into one of two categories: comedy or instructional videos. Sometimes, these two pseudo-genres combine, as is the case with "Advanced Leapfrog Techniques."

The video comes from the body of work of Jay Grandin and Leah Nelson, a married couple who have taken a detour from successful art and design careers to make funny shorts for YouTube. Among the most viral of their many videos are 12 Times to Be a German and How to Shower: Men vs. Women, all archived on a YouTube channel has developed a fairly large following. In this particular endeavor, Jay shows us a new set of moves to liven up impromptu games of leapfrog.

I think the most interesting aspect of this video is not necessarily the inspired leapfrog techniques, but the stylistic choices of the directors. They hit the framing jackpot with their choice of set: a faded pink and yellow wall divided by lines that divide the background into a series of boxes, giving the flat surface a multidimensional appearance while focusing the viewer's eye on the smallest framed area, which happens to be the section of the frame in which the "action" occurs. It's probably the most obvious indication that the minds behind the video have a background in design, especially Jay, who has an impressive furniture design portfolio.

The use of music is seamless, and it's impressive that instead of using a popular song, the directors stuck with an obscure instrumental piece. Though it's always nice to avoid copyright issues, it's also impressive when an online short can blend original elements in an original way instead of using a lot of found footage and material. I also really love the use of text, which is what makes the video work without any dialogue: the title of each leapfrog move appears above Jay's head as he performs it, letting the audience make the often humorous associations he intends to call to mind. The aesthetic of the video is like a more polished Jackass, with more whimsy and less gross-out humor, with an American Apparel-hipster sensibility. It's definitely one of my favorites, and also an instructional video that I feel I can actually put to good use. I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to blow smoke rings by watching YouTube instructional videos, and it just never panned out. Somehow I think I may be more successful in executing some of these stunts.

10 comments:

Jen said...

i watched this after seeing "times to be german," but i didn't think about it nearly as much as you have! i hope these two keep making videos.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. I plan to try this out at the next opportunity. There aren't many high quality viral vids, but this is definitely one of them.

-Rob

Rachel said...

That was hilarious! I wonder where they came up with the idea for this.

Anonymous said...

the best one was "the walk of shame," but they were all really funny.

Anonymous said...

Its weird because I don't think of online videos like "Shoes" to be short films, but this blog has definitely proved me wrong. This one made me laugh out loud, and so did the other videos that you linked to.

Jocelyn said...

That was really cute! People have posted their other videos on my Facebook, but I hadn't seen that one. Cool!

RYAN said...

reminds me of french parcore, except funnier. cool film.

troy said...

this film seems more artistic than the shower instructions, but times to be german is pretty artsy too. cool stuff.

Diane J. said...

My friends used to do tricks like that outside of a grocery store in our town. I'm glad someone decided to film it for once!

Leiha said...

You are dead-on about the American Apparel aesthetic. It's like everything produced these days is about irony and athletic wear. What's up with that? I am unashamed to say I loved this though!!