Britney Spears' Toxic, Remixed

Published on Friday, June 4, 2004


I started University as a CS major trying to get a business degree as well. The first two terms I was overloaded with classes (taking 19 and 22 credits, respectively). At one point I was in my C++ class and chatting to my mom, mentioning how I wasn't really meeting that many people, especially females -- which when you are an 18 year old male, is something typically on your mind. She replied that most of the students in her communication class were female, and taking a few communication classes would make me a better husband one day blah blah blah; I dropped the CS degree and picked up a minor in Communication.

So, what does this have to do with Britney Spears? In one of the possibly best classes I took in University, Media Literacy, we were asked to form groups and create several projects. Sitting in the back near me was a girl from Japan and a guy from South America, and some other white dude. We agreed to form a group, and our first project was analyzing a Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears and Beyonce Knowles. The presentation was quite successful. Our second presentation was about how production effects are important for conveying a message, a pretty boring topic, but we tried to make it interesting. The teacher, Jill Freeman (who just won another Teacher of the Year award), congratulated us on two great presentations. We wanted to blow the class away for our final presentation.

The assignment was to transform some media artifact from its original meaning, into what the true meaning is. For two weeks we studied and analyzed the Britney Spears video, Toxic. We looked at every frame, and the more we examined the video, the more odd stuff we found. Basically, subliminal stuff. We decided to change the Toxic video into a Pop-Up-esque style video (reminiscent of VH1). Ian and I both had I.T. backgrounds, but didn't know crap about video editing. For one week Ian hacked away at Final Cut Pro cutting up the video, adding stops and pauses. During this time I played with Adobe After Effects for inserting and animating the pop-ups. With only a day or so before the presentation he gave me the finalized video, and I started hacking away. At 3AM I started the rendering process, and for five hours on my Dual 1ghz G4 our eight minute video rendered.

The video finished rendering just before I had to take the bus to campus, and I made it just in time for our presentation. Almost everything was perfect, yet a few weeks later we redid some of the transitions to allow time to read the text. After we presented the bell rang, and the only question asked was: "can you play that again." Not a single person left the room.

Note: This is the converted online streaming version. If you would like to download a copy, you can grab a 16 MB AVI version. Contact me if you need the full quality version, it is roughly 500 MB. Lastly, the "intro screen" lasts for about 10 seconds, so just be patient. The text pop-ups will fly by pretty quick, so be prepared.