I have started to try to give my domino projects a theme, and sometimes a message, actually since 2005 or 2006. Those were really first attempts though and you could hardly guess what I meant by the projects if you didn't know it...
But since 2008, the results sometimes turned out okay or at least presentable without feeling stupid. Actually, I was very often really happy with the video I had created - but that changed in retroperspective, because when I watch them now, I just think: Wow, that looks so silly and could have done better so easily... so the projects I'm talking about here are not all I made, but just those that I am still more or less proud of today.
They are sorted in chronological order so that the most recent project is on top, and the oldest of the projects - "The City" - concludes the listing.
This is actually a bit special because so far, I haven't announced yet which theme the project I'm currently working on is going to be about. Well, I'm doing so hereby ;-)
"Krabat" is a saga from a region in the East of Germany. The Sorbs, a people living in a region called Lausitz (Lusatia in English, google that if you want to know where exactly it is in Germany) have been telling and conveying it since about 1830.
It probably wouldn't very well-known outside Lusatia if it wasn't for Otfried Preußler. He is one of the most famous German authors, and in 1971, after ten years of work, his adaption of the saga was published. And that is an absolutely brilliant book - my favourite book. I read it for the first time when I was about eleven years old, and have read it several times since because it is quite sophisticated and I understood it better every time.
If you want to read it, too, search for "The Satanic Mill"; unfortunately, on Amazon, the English translation is not available. But any translation of that book can hardly match the ingenuity of the original as linguistic devices play an important role. I've read the Spanish translation, and it is a good book as well, but isn't able to hold the candle to the German text.
This text here is starting to get novel-length, too, so I'm not going to talk about the story here and instead send you to this summary.
Anyway, earlier this year, I discovered a great musical adaption of Krabat (here's a track from the album). I hadn't went in for the book since quite some time, and those songs took me back into the fascination of the story. So, quite soon, there was the decision to turn it into a domino project.
The book works with symbols a lot - and so will my domino projects. You actually always have to work with symbols if you want to show a message or a theme in dominoes, so that really helps at adapting the story.
Here are some facts about my project: I'm working on it since August; it will probably include 30,000 - 50,000 dominoes in total (it consists of many seperated clips, of course); it will be my first notable project to be filmed in HD - which means that I can very often not shoot two angles of one project without rebuilding it. Also, it will still take some months to finish, for several reasons: 1.) It's very laborious. 2.) I have a daytime job. 3.) I have lots of other projects under construction, so I'm working on Krabat just from time to time. 4.) I'm sometimes a bit lazy ;-)
The video will include some innovative domino setups, including a new 3D setting. And that is what I'm currently building - it will also be my personal record if it falls completely! A preview can be found here.
Besides tons of other books and adaptions, there are also three "Krabat" films; an old one made in the seventies for East Germany's television. I haven't found a possibility to watch it yet. Then there's a lovely cartoon version for kids, also made in East Germany when it still existed. It is widely regarded as one of the best adaptions of the saga. And then, in 2008, a new movie was made, starring some famous German actors and created with quite a notable budget - but unfortunately, that wasn't enough to put together a good adaption. The movie is cheesy, sometimes unintentionally comical, some parts of the story have been changed in a way that doesn't make any sense at all... it sometimes looks more like a parody. Don't watch it!
I love the advent time and Christmas because of the mood it automatically takes me into. And I HATE how people misunderstand and bastardize its meaning.
That's why I wanted to approach the topic in a domino video. The difficulty about that was something I knew from earlier projects: Trying to get across a serious message using the equipment of a child's play, and almost without words. But I'm quite satisfied with the result. Watch it here if you haven't yet:
Although it's just three clips, this was a tremendous lot of work, even compared to most of the other projects on this page. But I had totally underestimated how long it would take to paint all these dominoes - because that is, of course, how I created that colour change.
I thought I had plenty of time when I started the project in November of 2009, but then actually finished it just a few hours before Christmas Eve.
Fall of the Berlin Wall
"Mach dein X"
This one is quite a long story. To sum it up: In the summer of 2008, the German government launched a video contest on YouTube, and with this project, I won the second place.
Now for the details. The participation in elections has been shrinking significantly for years in Germany; the term "Politikverdrossenheit" ("political sullenness") has become a common phrase and is worrying politicians and intellectuals a lot. Although we have one of the best democracies in the world, people are frustrated and more and more people are passionate "non-voters" who want to show their frustration by not voting at all in elections. I think that's silly; you can't change politics by deciding not to participate in it any more. That's why I strongly supported the goal of the forementioned contest: The task was to motivate your viewers to vote at the general election that was going to taking place on September 27, 2009. Your video should include an X ("Mach dein X!" just means "Do your X!") like the cross on a ballot paper, created in any creative way. Original hobbys that would attract young viewers would be perfect.
And domino is creative and an original hobby, isn't it? I was quite thrilled when I stumbled across the YouTube page of the contest, because it looked like a domino video would fit it perfectly.
So, during the next days, I planned and set up the handsetting project (= built "freestyle", without any helps such as rulers) you can see on the picture. As you can see, I was quite happy after the falldown: The dominoes had fallen just as planned and we had captured it well on video (one of the thrilling things about domino videos is that you have just one take... and it does occasionally happen that I mess up that take).
Still, when I watched the other videos that entered the contest, I turned a bit pessimistic. In the end, there were "only" 125 entries (only because there have been other contests with way more videos; an annual talent contest on YouTube Germany had about 2600 entries this year); and there were about a dozen that I considered to be as good as mine or better.
So I was pretty flabbergasted* when I was told I had actually ended up in the second place! Not only because that was quite a compliment for what I do, but also because the prizes were awesome ;-)
I received a brand new MacBook; I'm actually writing this text, and most texts on the homepage, from that laptop.
But, even more awesome, I had also won a journey to Berlin and the Bundestag, the German Parliament. Together with a friend, I spent three days in the capital and had the opportunity to watch a debate in the parliament live (this one), speak to a member of the parliament (Patrick Meinhardt, Liberal Democrats), visit basically every corner of the building, including the top of the dome - and even meet Norbert Lammert, the President of the Bundestag. That was very special, not only because according to the constitution, he is the second to highest ranking person in Germany, but also because he's one of my favourite politicians. (Although I'm not really a fan of his party, the Christian Democrats.) The whole visit was pure awesomeness for someone as interested in politics as I am!
*That's my favourite English word. I just had to use it somewhere on the homepage.
"The City" is not exactly a legendary piece of film history, but I think if you consider it was created by a 15-year-old all on his own, just equipped with a digital camera, some dominoes and a video editing programme, it is okay.
Cities have always fascinated me, and I might deal with that theme again in future videos. So I tried to describe the city I live in - Saarbrücken in the south-west of Germany, 180 000 inhabitants - as good as possible in a video. There's actually not that much domino in the video - here it is:
There are some parts I still really like and others that look rather poor to me today.
The best part of video is actually not created by me - the music. I found it on Jamendo, a platform for Creative Commons licensed music - so that I can use it in this video without violating any copyright - and I totally recommend you to download it (legally and for free).