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The Shins bring 5,556 stickers to life for their ‘Half A Million’ music video

American indie rock band The Shins have released a new music video for their track Half A Million. Although it doesn’t feature any guest artists, it does have something way better: thousands of stickers of themselves.

Directed by LAMR+NIK, the video animates the musicians as stickers who interact with the bigger world around them. For instance, one scene shows them drumming on a cheese and cracker spread, while another depicts them being plastered on various walls.

According to the band, the video included 5,566 stickers and over 4,868 frames, shot in over 40 locations. It’s completely nuts to think how much time they spent shooting this thing, as well as counting the stickers afterwards.

The result, however, is well worth the effort. The Shins were able to release a music video that reflects the spirit of the song and their first album in five years, Heartworms.

We spoke to LAMAR+NIK to find how exactly they were able to create such a brilliant (and painstaking) video.

Half A Million by The Shins

How frickin’ long did this video take to create?

“The project as a whole from commission to delivery took about two months to complete. The outside scenes were really challenging, it was 100 degrees some of the days we were outside. As far as most time consuming, the checkers scenes took us eight hours to complete alone. We showed up to that location at 6PM and left around 3AM.”

How did the opportunity to do this video for The Shins come about?

“We were sent the song by our rep Jen (Las Bandas). We pitched the sticker idea and got the video, but the band was already on tour. So we met The Shins in Vancouver, BC to shoot the white cyclorama footage. The Shins and the label didn’t have anything to do with the concept. They just fully trusted us even though it’s hard to imagine the concept before it’s done.

“We did a test video and that helped them understand a bit more, but for the most part they just let us do our thing and we’re extremely grateful for that. As far as were the idea came from, we’ve had it in our notebooks for years now and this was just a perfect opportunity to do it.”

Half A Million by The Shins

Tell us about the process behind creating the video from beginning to end.

“The first step was shooting the performance on a white background. They were extremely tired but they were also really hyped on the idea so they charged right through all the performance takes and we got them out of there as fast as possible so they could sleep.

“Then we had to edit the video. Once the edit was locked we were able to spit out all the frames and take it to the printers.

“After that we started the cutting process, which is basically us hand cutting each frame non-stop for several days with the help of some friends and family that still put up with us and these projects that usually take over someone’s house for a while.

“We split the video into each “shot” and you would just grab that whole stack and cut a sticker out, write the frame number on the back, then start a “finished” stack.

“We changed up our planned locations a couple of times for some of the scenes to better fit with our schedule. Some of them could be changed pretty easily, and we’d do that so we didn’t have to drive back and forth across town.

“The locations weren’t necessarily the hard part, it was more the time that each scene took. Some of the scenes that we thought were going to be easy ended up being the longest ones to create. Turns out it takes a long time to carefully stick down stickers so that they match exactly (in most cases) the frame before it.

“The puzzle scene is a good example of that. We had to scratch or at least press into all the grooves with a pen for each frame after we stuck it down, then cut out the corner piece. After that, we’d put the piece back into the puzzle, rinse and repeat.”

“The puzzle scene is a good example of that. We had to scratch or at least press into all the grooves with a pen for each frame after we stuck it down, then cut out the corner piece. After that, we’d put the piece back into the puzzle, rinse and repeat.”

Half A Million by The Shins

Who are some of the animators whose work blows your mind?

“There are a lot of them that really inspire us, but if you haven’t checked out the new Washed Out visual album all the animators for each of those videos did an amazing job. Each video has a distinct style to it and they really stuck with us.”

Check out The Shins’ tour schedule on their website. You can also find out more about LAMAR+NIK on their website.

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