Editing an 'Imagine Dragons' Music Video

Along with other elements of filmmaking, I’ve been putting a lot of focus into video editing lately.

You don’t get experience from just reading, of course – though, Blink of an Eye was a surprisingly good read.

So I’ve been enjoying not just the Slack Injection TV stuff (though that’s more of a chaos-collage kind of thing), but also seeking out projects like what this Adobe article offers.

It’s a collaboration between Adobe and the band Imagine Dragons where the band provides a master audio track and a whole bunch of their video footage from the music video for Believer. It was clearly intended to promote sales of Adobe Premiere Pro, but I’m using Kdenlive for all of this. Oops. 😉

Kdenlive is a very capable, cross-platform non-linear video editor. Some of the Premiere Pro features covered in the article, however, aren’t yet available in Kdenlive, but lacking those features just means having to be that much more creative with how you approach things, so I was not daunted.

After going through all the footage, there was clearly a boxing thing going on (with Dolph Lundgren!), and a guy sitting in a chair who apparently also boxes against Dolph. There were other bits, like of the band playing, and some ambient background stuff.

I made sure I didn’t look at the official, completed video to keep myself free of influence. While going through the clips I was struck by the lengthy clip of Dan Reynolds sitting in his little egg chair, just staring at the camera.

Being a perpetual jokester, I felt the urge to grab the wheel and drive the car off the road – instead of making a music video, I’ll come up with a skit about how guys in the booth are waiting on him to start the video. They chatter to themselves, confused about why he’s just sitting there doing nothing.

If you're not getting a 'The Prisoner' vibe, then please leave.
If you're not getting a 'The Prisoner' vibe, then please leave.
As I was assembling that joke (which involved very precise trimming and cross-fading of the clip – it worked well, surprisingly), I started to kind of feel like it could be ‘something more’.

Instead of 3 minutes of just uncomfortable staring, I played a bit with cuts over to an equally uncomfortable close up on certain parts of the song, until finally, as the music hits it’s final climax, he transforms into a child (a separate series of footage swapping Dave out for a “mini-Dan”) who is seemingly ready to judge you, and begins quickly scribbling something on his notepad: “BELIEVER”.

What does it mean? No fucking idea. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a music video, after all, so it doesn’t have to! 😀 But it’s a VERY different take from the official version, thankfully.

But this was so cool! It’s the soul of what’s attracting me to film editing in general. It’s like being given a bag of LEGOs for a Star Wars vehicle and creating something else entirely from it. It’s like what I imagine forming shapes out of clay is like. Creativity just emerges from the process as you knead the cuts.

I learned very quickly that, in reality, no matter how pleased I am with this cut, it would never ever work in the real world – nobody would have the patience to sit through 3 minutes of that pseudo-artistic nonsense to get to the heart of it at the end, so I cut it down to about a minute. 😉

And here it is: