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15 Music Videos Filmed In One Shot

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When a musical act and a director feel like doing something really challenging, they make a music video in a single take. 

1. OK Go // “The Writing's on the Wall” (4:17)

OK Go is known for their elaborate, unbroken single shot music videos, including "White Knuckles," "A Million Ways to Die," and "Here It Goes Again." Their latest, "The Writing's On the Wall," features 20 optical illusions captured in one shot. The music video took two months to plan and about 65 takes to execute; the band and directors Aaron Duffy, Damian Kulash, Jr., and Bob Partington were influenced by Swiss artist Felice Varini, who is known for his geometric perspective sculptures. "The Writing's on the Wall" gained more than 7 million views on YouTube within only a week after it premiered in June 2014.

2. Gin Blossoms // “Allison Road” (3:26)

In 1994, the Gin Blossoms released their sixth single "Allison Road" from their sophomore effort New Miserable Experience. The music video featured a single steadicam shot moving from room to room capturing a collection of television sets playing the Gin Blossoms performing the pop rock song.

3. Feist // “1234” (3:21)

In early 2007, the single "1234" launched Canadian singer-songwriter Feist into mainstream popularity in the U.S. Patrick Daughters directed the music video, which featured an impressive and colorful choreographed dance routine captured in one continuous tracking shot. "1234" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Short Form Music Video, and Pitchfork Media named it one of the best of the decade.

4. Lorde // “Tennis Court” (3:22)

Lorde's single-take music video for "Tennis Court," directed by Joel Kefali (who also directed the video for "Royals"), featured the New Zealand pop star staring into the camera, lip-syncing only the "Yeah" bits at the end of each verse and during the chorus.

5. Cibo Matto // “Sugar Water” (4:02)

Michel Gondry directed the music video for Cibo Matto's 1996 single "Sugar Water." It featured one long continuous shot displayed in split screen with parallel action. Although the scene was exactly the same, the left side of the screen started at the beginning and was moving forward, while the right side started from the end in reverse.

6. Weezer // “Undone" (The Sweater Song) (4:15)

In 1994, Spike Jonze directed Weezer's first music video. "Undone (The Sweater Song)" featured the band playing in front of a blue backdrop with a pack of dogs racing in and out of the camera's frame. While Jonze captured the performance in one unbroken slow motion steadicam shot, the director had Weezer perform to a sped up version of the song to get the slow motion effect in camera. It took about 20 takes to complete the shot, but towards the end, the band started to take the music video less seriously, which shows in their performance. It premiered on MTV and immediately became a smash hit with the music channel's young viewers.

7. Spoon // "The Underdog" (3:48)

In 2007, Keven McAlester directed the music video for "The Underdog," Spoon's first single from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The unbroken steadicam shot featured the indie rock band playing the song with an El Mariachi horns section and a number of percussionists in various rooms of an Austin, Texas recording studio.

8. Radiohead // “No Surprises” (3:46)

The music video, directed by Grant Gee, features Thom Yorke's head inside of a dome helmet with the song's lyrics reflected (in reverse) on its plastic shield. At the start of the song's second verse, the helmet begins to slowly fill with water, submerging a clearly uncomfortable Yorke for nearly a minute.

9. Taylor Swift // “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (3:35)

Taylor Swift's music video for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is an elaborate production featuring multiple sets and costume changes, all captured in one single shot. It follows Swift going through a nasty break up and experiencing flashbacks of the destructive relationship, as her band, dressed as furry woodland creatures, joyfully perform. It's a fun music video for a very fun and poppy song.

10. Michael Penn // “Try” (3:09)

Paul Thomas Anderson shot the music video for Michael Penn's "Try" during post-production of the director's film Boogie Nights in 1997. It was shot in the longest hallway in Los Angeles and features Penn performing the single while walking through the hallway. It also features three actors—Thomas Jane, Melora Walters, and Philip Seymour Hoffman—who also appeared in Boogie Nights. In fact, Hoffman wears a Angels Live in My Town (one of the fictional adult films in Boogie Nights) jacket as a reference to Anderson's sophomore effort.

11. Lisa Loeb // “Stay (I Missed You)" (3:05)

Ethan Hawke's directorial debut was the music video for Lisa Loeb's debut single "Stay" in 1994. It featured Loeb in an empty New York City loft performing the song in one single take. The song was featured on the Reality Bites soundtrack and was a #1 song for three weeks. Loeb was also the first recording artist to have a #1 hit song on the Billboard Hot 100 without being signed to a record label. In 2013, Lisa Loeb re-created the single take music video for Billboard Magazine in their New York City offices.

12. Vampire Weekend // “Oxford Comma” (3:39)

In 2008, Richard Ayoade directed the music video for Vampire Weekend's "Oxford Comma." It featured the band performing the song while lead singer and guitarist Ezra Koenig walks through a farm as a film crew shoots a movie in the background.

13. Metric // “Gimme Sympathy” (3:50)

In 2009, Canadian indie rock band Metric released "Gimme Sympathy," the first single from their fourth studio album "Fantasies." Its music video was captured in one long extended shot and featured the band performing in an empty gymnasium; halfway through the song all of the band members switch instruments.

Lou Reed was the inspiration behind the song. Metric lead singer Emily Haines wrote in Rolling Stone after Reed's death in 2013, "When Lou Reed asked me, 'Emily Haines, who would you rather be, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones,' I shot back, 'The Velvet Underground.' Quick thinking, sure, but also the truth. In our song 'Gimme Sympathy,' we lament the fact that none of us living today are likely to achieve the stature or saturation the signature acts of that era enjoyed."

14. Metronomy // "Love Letters” (3:07)

In 2014, Michel Gondry directed the music video for Metronomy's "Love Letters." In it, the band performed the song in a six-sided box with various cutouts, as the camera spun around with a 360 degree view. Depending on where the camera landed, you could see Metronomy in various scenarios including in a recording studio, on a laptop, in a concert hall, and on a road trip.

15. Bob Dylan // “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (2:19)

Although it's a film clip from D.A. Pennebaker's 1964 documentary Dont Look Back, Rolling Stone considers Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" to be the precursor to the modern day music video. The two-minute clip featured Dylan displaying a number of cue cards with the lyrics to the song, as he revealed one after another. It was shot in the back alley of the Savoy Hotel in London, England; Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth can be seen in the background chatting.

The promotional film clip was highly influential to many recording artists, including The Flaming Lips, Belle & Sebastian, and the punk band Anti-Flag, who all attempted to mimic its style.

BONUS: Spice Girls // “Wannabe” (3:56)

The music video for the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" appears to be shot in one take, although there are apparently two very subtle edits. At the time of its release in 1996, the video was considered controversial thanks to its risqué content. Virgin Records asked for re-shoots and an alternative version for the American market, but the Spice Girls refused because they were very proud of how the music video turned out. It won Best Dance Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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