This summer, two Ohio State professors in the Department of Dance released an award-winning video that featured dancers on all seven continents.
Mitchell Rose, filmmaker and assistant professor in the Department of Dance, came up with the idea for the video, called “Globe Trot.” He then enlisted his colleague Bebe Miller, a distinguished professor in the Department of Dance, to choreograph the dance used in the video.
Rose used a technique which he calls “hypermatch-cutting” to combine footage from 50 filmmakers into one continuous video. “Hypermatch-cutting” perfectly aligns each frame of the video and, in this case, makes it look like one continuous dance performed in various places.
The video is made up of one- to two-second clips of people from around the world doing a snippet of Miller’s choreography. Once one clip is over, the next clip begins with another dancer in the exact same spot as the dancer before, picking up exactly where the person before left off.
“When an image takes the place of an old image, there’s a psychological phenomenon that says these things are equal. ‘See? They’re in the same place, it’s the exact same person doing the exact same thing, so they’re equal,’” Rose said.
He said this phenomenon has led to “Globe Trot” portraying the message that all the people of the world are equal.
“That was a joyous thing to create the celebration of humanity,” Rose said.
Because Rose knew from the beginning he wanted the video to be an international collaboration, he created a detailed manual which consists of 14 different subtopics and three how-to videos. The subtopics include everything from the overall timeline of the project to the framing Rose wanted each filmmaker to use.
The manual asked all participants to maintain an artistic standard of an accurate performance of the choreography, performers being placed in order to perfectly align with adjacent shots and the dance to be “performed by an interesting person before an interesting background.”
Although the manual is extensive, Rose said creating it wasn’t hard. What was hard, however, was getting filmmakers to participate and produce videos that aligned with others.
Rose ultimately received responses from 54 filmmakers around the world after posting on various social media, connecting with curators of dance film festivals, art organizations and “groveling.”
“Eventually, I got 54 people to sign up to do it. In 23 countries, on all seven continents including Antarctica,” Rose said.
Unfortunately, four filmmakers “disappeared” throughout the process and Rose had to fill in the holes himself.
Phil Baur, 25, was working in Antarctica as a dishwasher at the time Rose was reaching out to various organizations for participants. Baur said he had done media work for the National Science Foundation while in Antarctica, so when Rose reached out to the foundation, they reached out to Baur and he happily obliged.
Baur filmed four to five people, including himself, based off of Rose’s manual. He said the most difficult part wasn’t following Rose’s manual or learning the dance steps but dealing with the weather while filming.
“The hardest part was that we needed to use a metronome to keep the time so we could get the dance beats right, but the iPod that we had running ran out of battery because of the cold right away,” Baur said.
Rose said being a producer to many people, such as Baur, who were thousands of miles away was a fascinating experience, but had a disadvantage.
“The downside is that it meant I ended up sending 1,000 emails that summer because no matter how accurately you try and talk people through it, they are still going to misinterpret things,” Rose said.
Though putting the pieces together was difficult, it was rewarding. The film has since been recognized at various film festivals and has won nine different awards including the Grand Festival Award in Experimental Filmmaking from the Berkeley Video Film Festival.
Rose said he “felt good” about the awards “Globe Trot” has received, and his former student, Ellen Maynard agreed.
“I was really excited (about the awards), and I know Mitchell worked his butt off,” said Maynard, who graduated from OSU in 2013 with a degree in dance. Maynard filmed clips for “Globe Trot” in California, Maine and New York.
Rose has now moved on to experimenting for his newest project, which he plans to call “1,000 People Make a Movement.” The video will include the “hypermatch-cutting” technique, but this time with still images that would create the effect of a flipbook.
He hopes to work with The James Cancer Hospital at OSU and have all of the images in the video beof cancer survivors.
“The theme of the film then becomes about courage and survival,” Rose said.