Life was looking good for robot apocalypse outfit A Life of Science back in August of 2009. They had just released their debut album, The Apneist and got all geared up to produce the most epic underwater city music video ever shot in front of a green screen for the track, "SAN-D4000, You are Immortal." The shoot went off without a hitch. Then the damn camera operator hit the delete button.
The tiny setback caused the crew to lose all of the High Definition glory that had been captured that day and left ALOS with nothing but encrypted fragments of lower quality clips.
Finally, after a little help from their friends, and a whole lot of tech-babble, the original footage from that fateful day has been resurrected and assembled into this new incarnation. After nearly 17 months, the music video for "SAN-D4000" made its long-awaited debut earlier this week.
We caught up with ALOS band member and Sundawg Records Video Director Matty Steinkamp for more about the blunder that nearly killed SAN-D.
Up on the Sun: For people who aren't up to speed with The Apneist, what's the story behind SAN-D4000?
Matty Steinkamp: The whole thing is a conceptual project from the start. "The Apneist" was basically the first story of Johnathan Tate, who is this childhood genius turned scientist who creates these robots to help save the world. So basically there's this connection between him and this like, robotic apocalypse. His very first love is this girl he's known all his life growing up and her name is Sandy McNamara. As the story goes on, they're separated so he creates a robot named SAN-D4000, after her.
In the video you'll see, he's talking about, "SAN-D don't leave me," and a lot of that is a metaphor for the loss of the physical person he was in love with. Later in the story SAN-D4000 is the only thing he has left that he can talk to.
It's a reflection of him wanting to be with Sandy McNamara, along with the only thing he has left after the apocalypse; this robot he created before.
How did the concept for this particular video come about? Who directed it? We came together as a band and as a team. We sat down with our friend Joe Homokay out of California, and basically drew the whole project out before we put together a budget, but a lot of it really stems from James Keenan, our singer and songwriter. He pretty much scripted the entire music video. All of the different scenes stemmed from his ideas and his concepts that he wrote in the treatment for the video. So Joe was more of a project director as opposed to a creative director.
I would say on the creative side it really was, mostly, us in A Life Of Science. Between me, James and Scott and the other members, we really put the entire creative process together. I did all the editing and cutting of the video as well as the coloring.
The music video for "San-D4000, You Are immortal" was initially shot way back in August of 2009, but the footage was subsequently lost. What exactly happened, and how were you guys able to recover it?
It was a really, really crazy day. We had saved up so much to make this video. At the time we were a very fresh band, and a very fresh record label. We were just like any other independent around the country, but we really wanted to go out and make an impact. We had a major connection at MTV that had asked us for a music video, so it was all working out at the right time. At the end of the day of shooting at the Glendale Studios everything had gone perfectly but, the guy operating the camera pushes "erase" on the camera. He completely erases everything that was on the RED cam we had rented - the thing that we had spent the most money on.
We had to do some data recovery for it, but the thing is, when you do a data recovery on these built-in hard drives, you get a much smaller encrypted file than the standard one you would export and you're not getting HD quality at that point. So we couldn't really do what we wanted to because everything was shot on green screen and there were supposed to be these mermaids flying by and vessels since it's supposed to be this underwater city.
About two months ago we sat down to talk about all of the projects we have coming up and James looked over to me and said, "Hey why don't you work on SAN-D?" And I was like, "I could work on SAN-D and I probably could come up with something a little bit crazier and more creative than we first thought." So it just became a thing that we all sat down to do and started going through footage and picking out clips that could work. So we basically patched that whole thing together. We ended up doing the first edit of SAN-D4000, literally in 24 hours straight.
Geez! How long did it end up taking you guys to recover all the usable footage?
The whole process took about a year because we didn't have the budget to say, "can you figure this out in the next three weeks." What was great was that we had a lot of amazing people try to help. In the end it took a good 15 to 20 of our homies from all over California and Arizona to try and get as much footage as possible. At one point we didn't even care if anybody saw it or not, we just wanted to see it for ourselves.
Seventeen months after the fact, when you look back at the footage today and see the finished product, how do you guys feel about the video? Is it everything you had hoped it would be?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
It's totally different than what we hoped it would be, but way better right now than it was a year ago. We all love it though; it's almost like a remixed version of it you know? The storyline, the way its mapped out, is exactly what its supposed to be. All of us are very pleased and very thankful, but at the same its nowhere near where we imagined it would be. But in a good way.
A Life of Science will be playing in Flagstaff on January 20, and plan on announcing two more shows in the Phoenix area before the month is out.