Grateful Dead

Dead Ringers: Touch of Grey

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This short-subject documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the conception and creation of the Grateful Dead's landmark promotional music video for "Touch of Grey." As this was the band's first attempt at creating a visual representation of a specific song, much of Dead Ringers: Touch of Grey deals with the copious and somewhat methodical preparations for the live action shoot -- which was filmed in front of an actual audience May 9, 1987, at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. In addition to their performance role, the band is seen conferring with video coordinator/director Gary Gutierrez and the various puppeteers. They discuss both the esoteric concept of being portrayed in marionette form as well as the more logistical obstacles encountered in replicating the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of the musicians. Each respective bandmember was assigned a team of personnel -- ranging from the designers to the physical puppet animators. One of the greatest challenges addressed involves the visual transition between the real musicians -- who are shot lip-syncing to the studio recording -- and their skeletal counterparts. As the finished product reveals, the continuity between the edited shots is superior and the images are intuitively edited together to create the illusion of a seamless performance. After several airings on MTV, Dead Ringers: Touch of Grey was issued as a VHS home video which has been out of print since the mid-'90s.