Garageland “Not Empty”

1999-garageland-not-empty“Not Empty” was the first single off Garageland’s second album. And while guitarist Debbie Silvey had left the band, she made an appearance doing backing vocals on this track. “I wanna be free! No empty!” goes the chorus, in a song about the search for meaning in life.

The video goes with this, focusing on a situation of classic emptiness – the modern office. The band members are dressed up in office finery, but they shuffle around the office with a dead look in their eyes because they are empty.

I don’t quite buy it that there’s an entire office full of people who have become completely numbed by their jobs. Surely it’s far worse to be the only one suffering in an office full of people happy with their mediocre lives.

But, ok, for the purposes of this music video, I will accept the seventh floor of this office is full of extremely unhappy people. That’s not even the focus of the video – the focus is bullet time!

The technique had been popularised by The Matrix, released earlier in the year, but bullet time had first been popularised in music videos, including Michel Gondry’s quite good vid for the Rolling Stones’ 1995 cover of “Like a Rolling Stone”.

The bullet time in “Not Empty” is a little clunky – the shape of the camera perimeter is apparent and makes it feel like a very obvious attempt at a gimmicky effect, rather than something that adds to the story. Is the viewer supposed to feel more sympathy for a man who knocks the mouse off his desk if we see it in 360 degrees?

The video ends with one of the workers jumping off the roof onto Vulcan Lane below. But don’t worry – he’s ok. He survives the fall and – in possibly some Groundhog Day-like cruelty – he gets up, unharmed. It’s much easier to just hand in your resignation.

Update: Commenter Dan reveals the bullet time was faked by getting the actors to stay very still, moving the camera around then speeding up the footage. So that’s why it looks clunky!

Bonus: And here’s a clip of the band performing the song live on Ground Zero.

Best bit: the olden days of massive CRT monitors.

Director: Paul Swadel, Marc Swadel
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next…. brains, and lack thereof.

9 thoughts on “Garageland “Not Empty””

  1. The guy who shot this video taught some classes back in the day, and I asked him how they did the bullet-time on a budget. He said it was achieved by having the actors stand extremely still whilst the camera was pushed around quickly, then the footage was sped up.

    I felt like an idiot for asking it was so simple…

  2. What happened was I got a Creative NZ grant to make a bullet time short film in 1995 – and spent it on a 16mm camera. (it was 6K all up – and I WILL deliver the film – in 2020) Anyways – we faked it here. A bent coat hanger for the mouse cable.. some resin moulded over a can for the coffee spill, and a hard out harness and support for the band member as he falls in mid spill (the support was made by Bob Scott – the luthier)

    The clip never got fully finished – this is a nearly done offline – we got bundled out of the edit suite for another Flying Nun act – Fiona Mc Donald.

    A fun clip to do.. but not one on any of my reels as it never got finished/graded to the way I wanted.

    1. Thanks for the insider info, Marc! I see what you mean about the video – it does have a not-quite-polished look to it. But all those workarounds for the bullet time effect really give the video a cheeky character.

  3. Nice shot at 2:56 of the Sky Tower. Thus fulfilling the rule of all Auckland music videos: it must either include a shot of the Sky Tower, Rangitoto, or lower Britomart (all videos post 2004?)

    1. The best Sky Tower shot is the Rikki Morris video shot on top of a building that overlooked the Sky Tower which was still under construction. It showed up a lot in videos made in the late ’90s, I guess as it was new and novel, a quick way to show a cool city skyline. I reckon I’ll make a list of Sky Tower vids.

      1. Damn.. I was trying to make AKL look ‘generic’ ..like it could be anywhere.

        had no idea the skytower had slipped in…

        damn thing. Its like a flashers prick.. with a casino scrotum full of

        cancerous gamblers..

  4. I remember some folks thinking that we’d completely wasted our opportunity to use ‘Lost Time’ in a boring office scene. What a pack of complete dicks we were.

    But since it was fake lost time made for a few hundred bucks and shot in a few hours – we found this reasonably amusing

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