With more than 8 million views on YouTube, the Cookie Monster ‘Share It Maybe’ spoof video demonstrates not only an on-going love for all things Sesame Street but also well executed direction from The Diamond Brothers and impressive color grading with Blackmagic Design’s new DaVinci Resolve 9.
– Above: watch ‘Share It Maybe’
The video, a parody on the Carly Rae Jepsen song ‘Call Me Maybe’, was directed by friends of fxguide and fxphd Josh and Jason Diamond and produced by Jim Muscarella for New York based production company The Hidden Fortress. According to Jason Diamond, the project had an incredibly fast turnaround time. “They called us on a Thursday, Friday we locked it with them, Sunday they sent me their treatment of the basic blocking of the story because they wrote the lyrics and did the recording. Then we shot on the Monday.”
Filming took place at the Sesame Workshop offices in New York. “They were very particular about wanting it to feel like where Cookie Monster works,” notes Diamond. “He’d be around the office as an employee of course!”
DOP Timur Civan shot on a Cooke 18-100mm zoom at 4K HD on RED EPICs. Diamond says, “It was port-holing a little bit at 5K so we just went to 4K HD, which was totally fine for this. That Cooke zoom is a little bluer than the regular Cookes but it still has a pretty warm cast to it, so we had to correct that out in Resolve. Cookie Monster got very heavily qualified and secondaried to make sure that he was really well isolated, so no matter what we did to the color temperature or any look to the footage, we could keep him consistent.”
Everyone in the video was a Sesame Workshop employee and were even assigned roles based on their particular pre-identified skills. “The in-house producer had, based on each basic setup, gone to a specific person he knew would reflect that scene,” says Diamond. “So he knew the girl in the front with the long hair who’s dancing – he knew she was a dancer. They were really into it and everyone wanted to have fun.”
The Diamond Brothers had six hours to shoot the entire video, and within that only four or five with Cookie Monster himself, who is puppeteered by David Rudman. To film the character was a moment not lost on the directors. “It was insane,” says Diamond. “We thought it would be awesome to shoot Cookie Monster, but when you’re actually looking at a guy sitting on a stool essentially with a piece of cloth draped over him, and you see the guy doing the voice while he’s performing – you see him doing that in the real world, and you look at your monitor and you see Cookie Monster, and he’s alive.”
“Also,” adds Diamond, “David rarely had Cookie on his hand while we were blocking – they have a special stand that holds him up. David’s been doing Cookie Monster for 12 years, and he’s been a muppeteer for 25. I found myself naturally referring to Cookie Monster in the third person. I never said, ‘You’, and he never said the word ‘I’. We both always said, ‘Well, Cookie would do this and Cookie should do that…'”
That was further exemplified, says Diamond, when a planned greenscreen setup of the character singing to some cookies was met with Rudman’s comment, “‘That can’t happen. Cookie cannot be in the vicinity of a cookie. Period. Or he will destroy them or eat them all.’ “And we were, like, ‘That makes total sense.’ Cookie Monster has rules.”
After filming, editor Jesse Averna cut the video, which was then graded by colorist Juan Salvo at GRS Systems on a then beta release of Resolve 9, again within a tight turnaround.
Resolve 9 features an entirely redesigned user interface with grading controls on larger palettes, and further camera and file type support. Some of the notable upgrades are scrubbable media thumbnails to speed up source clip review and shot selection and production metadata fields for shot notes, naming of nodes and resizable gallery stills – all used by Salvo for the video.
“With Resolve 9’s new streamlined project workflow,” says Salvo, “I was able to conform the locked cut of Cookie Monster’s ‘Share It Maybe’ in seconds. And great new organizational features like node labeling, markers and pins allowed me to keep track of exactly what I was doing and what I needed to do to realize my clients’ vision.”
Jason Diamond particularly liked the way Resolve could ripple through scenes. “It seems to me if you apply the grade to a shot and those shots are from the same roll or setup, you can basically ripple them down, and once you do the change they can ripple through all of them. That saved us a ton of time,” he says.
“We also did a ton of pre-keys in Resolve,” adds Diamond, “so we could check for things we wouldn’t have to wait to do in After Effects, which is where we did all the keying for the greensceen.”
One key shot made use of Resolve 9’s tracker and node-based workflow – this was a shot of the original Carly Rae Jepsen video playing on a computer monitor. Salvo relied on Resolve 9 to make the images clearer in the final piece by tracking in the computer screen and excluding the foreground performers, then use the node workflow to make the required adjustments.
The team also completed a 4K finish in Resolve to show at a Camp RED event for kids.
‘Share It Maybe’ was pretty much an instant hit, and something that is still reaching new audiences past YouTube on media like the Today Show and Huffington Post. “We were assuming because it was a Sesame Workshop project that it would get a fair amount of views,” says Diamond, “but the fact that it got millions in the first day or two, that’s obviously much larger than any other project we’ve been involved with.”
Resolve 9 – more information
If you want to learn more about Resolve and especially the new version 9, fxguide’s sister site fxphd has a new DaVinci Fast Forward training course on Resolve 9, taught by Warren Eagles. Click here for more information. This really popular course is available for immediate download.