First, he drops a toothbrush on the ground. Then, a jar full of marbles. Do you know how long it takes to pick up marbles? It’s infuriating.
J-Scott says it took him nearly two years to complete “Butter Fingers.” He worked on it nights, weekend and holidays.
This video also required a lot of research and development. Just ask his wife who had to deal with objects constantly falling on the ground.
J-Scott is an alias for Jordan Scott’s motion and design work. He’s originally from Canada but now lives in LA working as a freelance motion graphics artist. I dropped J-Scott a line to learn more about this project.
You really captured the physics of these objects. How hard was that?
It was a balancing act because there were some things that I wanted to make look as real as possible. You have to keep in mind… things fall really fast. A lot of times you miss it. I had to take some creative liberties and slow things down to give it the optimal fall.
Normally, when you drop a doughnut, it just falls and it’s done. In a perfect world, how would you like a doughnut to fall? How do you give it a life longer than a second? The toothbrush is a good example of something that falls quickly. I just gave it that extra second to hanging in there.
You took two years making this. What kept you going?
The marble shadows alone took three days because everything was done by hand. Every grain of salt you see was done by hand. There were no external effects plug-ins except for the spray on the beer can.
There’s a good quote from Penn and Teller that says, “Sometimes magic is spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.”
I illustrated a bunch of stuff that didn’t make it in. I had an urn full of ashes, an Olympic torch, a winning lottery ticket. I wanted to come up with things that were interesting and frustrating. Dropping your toothbrush, with toothpaste on it, is totally infuriating.
Did you storyboard each scene?
I would be lying to you, if I told you I had a plan. Maybe I had a rough blueprint but there was never a plan. I finished the project and ended up spending another month on it because it wasn’t long enough. That’s when I had to add the saltshaker and the doughnut just to make it complete. I was just making it up as I went.
You had original music composed for this piece. I think the music really nails it.
I worked with the composer, Cyrille Marchesseau, on a previous project. I never actually met him. I told him I was looking for something a little mischievous. Home Alone was the only reference I gave him.
My intention was not to approach him until I had the video completed. I wanted to have the finished product so that he knew what he was getting into. If he didn’t like it, that’s fine. This is what I’ve created. He was interested.
You mentioned dropping a lot of objects for visual reference. Did you also use those same sounds for the sound design?
It’s probably equal parts real sounds and not real sounds in there.
We recorded the marbles rolling on top off a guitar case. We had them rolling in a box and other things but it sounded too contained. That was really difficult. The bar of soap was a tough one too.
What’s the secret to getting Vimeo Staff Pick?
The secret is to pick a topic that you love. Don’t go into it with the intention of getting a whole lot of accolades. If so, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. You have to do it because you love it.
I don’t think I could’ve anticipated how successful it’s been. I watched it again today. It’s fun to watch it as a spectator. I enjoyed watching this thing I worked so hard on and created. It’s just something I did for fun. The reception alone is the best reward.
So, are you clumsy by nature?
No, not at all.