If getting a closer look at something is the quickest way to learn about it, the video for The Maccabees’ “Pelican” is a very efficient teacher. Over the course of three and a half minutes, it features cleaved models of a variety of anatomically accurate objects, including a boy’s head, a fruit bowl, and Earth itself–all of which the camera seems to glide right through. Talk about transparency.
“The band gave out a brief asking for a journey through life,” director David Wilson explains in a making-of video. With a crafty crew in tow, Wilson was able to make this journey a visceral reality. Taking place entirely in space, the clip starts with Earth in the distance, beaming out a signal. Our home planet then comes closer and closer toward the screen until it splits wide open to reveal another object behind it, and one behind that, and so forth. These objects may seem arbitrary at times but they’re meant to represent the various stages of a person’s life. Sure enough, “Pelican” takes viewers through infancy (a naked torso with a baby bottle behind it) through old age (tea accessories, Jesus). Fittingly, various kinds of food and television sets make the most appearances.
In the video, each object springs forth from the one preceding it, lending a Russian nesting doll-effect–an effect which soon becomes meta and literal when one of the items split open is a Russian nesting doll. The director was able to achieve the dynamic passage-through visuals for each object by using a boroscopic lens. The anteater-shaped lens is 2.5 feet long and 1.5 inches wide at the end, allowing it to seamlessly travel through the models the crew prepared.
Watch the video to gain unprecedented access into a young boy’s head, and then watch the making-of to get inside the director’s.