Behind the scenes of “A Short Film about Entropy”


I made a fun promo video for Ars Technica’s awesome science video contest, which you should enter. I visualized entropy using the oldest trick in the film-school student’s book: performing backwards and then reversing the footage in editing. No fancy equipment, just a plain ol’ camcorder and Final Cut Pro (which is expensive, but I think you could do all of this with iMovie or Final Cut Express too).

Someone on Twitter asked how long I spent on this. All told, about a day and a half or maybe two. Most of that was just spent figuring out what I wanted to shoot, and tediously reversing all the shots. The actual production was easy-peasy: I storyboarded the sequence out on my whiteboard as I wanted it to appear in the video (ie, reversed), and then literally recopied it in reverse (ie, reversed reverse=forward) as written instructions to follow after turning on the camera.

To do the funky Twin Peaks backwards-but-forwards speech at the end, I just recorded the line normally, flipped it around, split it into phonemes, wrote those down, and read them off this Post-It note when it came time to deliver the line:

Now you know how to say “Unlike everything in this video” like a weird David Lynch midget!

Also, the music by The Books is amazing, and you should buy it like I did.


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