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Sick of Gangnam style? Try low carbon style!

2012 December 10

I got the idea to do a low-carbon parody of Gangnam Style back in October. On my last business trip to Beijing, I had the luck of having a long weekend of free time as well as a group of awesome friends who were willing to contribute to the low-carbon cause. My main idea was to communicate a few basic low carbon concepts (biking, public transit, eating more vegetables, saving energy at home) while still having the fun of the Gangnam song/dance. The best parts of this project were 1) being able to write some Chinese rhymes again and 2) everyone’s energy on the filming day.

Green Tea, Sun Zhe, G Ding, Sustainable John lining up for some bike shots

My old colleague from Bloomberg An Na was a large driving force behind the production, bringing in about five friends to help film and dance. My old green brother Sun Zhe from China’s Green Beat brought in his friend who ended up being our choreographer. I called on good friend Tim Quijano to contribute his video skills to our shoot; he also filmed “Occupy Rooftops.” I wrote the lyrics in about 4-5 hours on Thanksgiving, and then performed them at a Thanksgiving dinner that night. My pengyou George Ding aka “G Ding” liked what he heard and offered his help. I put him center stage as our green PSY.

We rented studio space on Saturday afternoon at Busy Bee Studios (忙蜂) in Beijing for CNY 300/hour ($50/hour). The engineer was outstanding and we cut the audio track. I also used a studio for Occupy Rooftops audio, and I believe it is now the standard for all major videos I work on in the future. It costs some extra cash, but audio quality + engineering are well worth it.

We practiced dancing with our choreographer on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, we did all of the group dance shots, about 25 people showed up! The light was a bit flat as it was overcast, but later in the afternoon we got a little sun through the clouds for our shots in the hutongs and streets of Beijing. Probably, one of the funniest scenes was the celery standoff. What’s even funnier was that both actors involved hated the flavor of celery and spit it out after every take, ha! Later, we went into the subway and then to An Na’s house to get all the shots we needed. One irony was that fluorescent lights cause a flicker when you’re filming, having to do with the frequency of those lights and the frame rate/shutter speed you film at. It basically messed up our subway footage and introduced banding which made the video look really bad, so we had to minimize usage of the subway video unfortunately. But that didn’t mess with the awesome photos we took in the subway!

Editing the video took a long time on my busted laptop, with Adobe Premiere often crashing, but I eventually got it done. I’m really proud of what we accomplished and now I’m trying to do what I can to spread it around China! We have 1000 hits on each YouTube and Youku and people are really sharing it around on Weibo! Please share these links around and enjoy the video.

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9lFuV5AYk0 (also http://bit.ly/DitanStyle)

Youku: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDg0ODMwMjI4.html

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