The original concept was to have four still photographers placed strategically on a Florida set while the five members of Anthrax performed their new song “Monster At The End” live. Each photographer would hold down his camera’s shutter button continuously for the near-four minute-long song, capturing a steady stream of hundreds of still images.
“Hey, it might have been a great idea,” laughed video director Jack Bennett, “but holding down the shutter button on a still camera for that long a time? All we would have ended up with were four jammed cameras!”
Shooting the entire video with Super Sharp HD video still cameras, Bennett wanted an animated, staccato-feel to the flow of the individual images. “Video shutter speeds are faster and more reliable than anything we could have done manually, and we wanted as big a pool of still images to choose from as we could get.”
In post-production, Bennett went through the footage frame by frame and hand-picked the still images he wanted to animate – hundreds of them. Rather than print the video at 24 frames per second, he animated movement of the band members using the still images, creating a jagged, crude motion. “We didn’t want fluidity, we wanted the video to have more of a comic book feel to it, like flipbook animation.”
This also allowed Bennett to hang on the band members’ individual movements to accentuate the power of their playing, such as the strength in Charlie Benante’s drum hits, or Scott Ian’s strumming or Frank Bello’s rhythm.
And then the real fun began.
Bennett and his crew went one step further, taking a cue from the legendary Walt Disney animators of the 1920s and 1930s, who used the technique of rotoscoping, the art of painstakingly hand-painting individual cels to embellish a primary image.
Employing the fundamentals of rotoscope, Bennett has peppered the video with monsters, tattoos that come alive, explosions, popping eyeballs, speech bubbles, morphed images, and nods to the influence of ‘Creepshow.’ There’s even a frame or two of The Skull King, the evil character from Anthrax’s “Blood Eagle Wings” music video that Bennett also directed. Actor Justin Michael Terry, who played The Skull King, is The Runner in “Monster At The End.”
“We used a lot of stop-motion effects as well as other special and visual effects in the same way as was done in the original ‘Exorcist’ film,” Bennett added. “We even added a little bit of grain, some dust and some scratches just to give it that analog feel.”
As the music video unfolds, the frame rate increases, giving the band members more and more fluid movements until the final chorus when the video is full-on 24-frames per second. “You could watch this video one frame at a time,” Bennett added, “and probably not find everything we did.”
“The ‘Monster at the End’ video takes us back to our love of comics and horror,” said Anthrax’s Charlie Benante. “We’ve always loved the ‘Creepshow’ movies and wanted something like that for this video. Jack is easy to work with, all we did was perform the song, he did the real work with the editing and achieving the look that we wanted.”
Bennett wraps the video with one more surprise, an unexpected ending that goes to show that in the end, there’s a little bit of the monster in all of us.