While Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic, as the 2CELLOS, delight audiences in the USA and around the world, we remember that day about a year ago when the video that made them famous appeared on YouTube. It was "Smooth Criminal," recorded in Pula, which within just a few days was seen about a half a million times, and whose viewership now has reached a figure of about four million.
After "Smooth Criminal" came "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with the videography done by a team lead by Pulan Kristijan Burlović and Medvid Production.
"I wasn’t really aware of what I’d done," Burlović telling us that he is very grateful that Hauser and Sulic looked to their record label, Sony, to keep him on as the director of their videos; it is obvious that Sony recognized the quality of his work.
"Smooth Criminal" made an impression on the producers of the [television] series "Glee" who recreated the scene with the chairs in an episode dedicated to Michael Jackson, in which the 2CELLOS appeared, and also on the team at Sony.
Specifically, when Hauser and Sulic arrived at the New York offices of record label Sony, when the producers wanted to hear how they sounded [performing] live, they were taken to a room with chairs arranged as they were in the video. It's a testament to how impressed they were by the video.
[Hauser i Šulić su inače imali jedan amaterski spot za "Smooth criminal" koji su sami napravili i stavili na YouTube, no uklonili su ga kad se pojavio novi koji je režirao Burlović.] *see Admin Note below.
Before "Smooth Criminal "and other videos and concert footage that he made for 2CELLOS become his “calling card," Burlović recorded videos such as "Until the end" by Nola, in Zagreb for the radio series’ "Crazy House," and "Forever Neighbors," and "Good Intentions" in Ljubljana for the series "Passions," and he also shot promotional Pula film productions for Pula, etc.
How did the collaboration with Hauser and Sulic come about?
Quite by accident. My company, MedVid, produced a radio show called "My Istria" and during the Book Fair, we had worked with Hauser before he became a famous cellist. While we were doing a story about him [December 2010 interview], with my brother Igor filming, Hauser had told him that he and a friend wanted to make a video and asked for help.
Igor referred him to me since I had already made videos of the group, Nola, and was working in Zagreb as a cameraman and such. Hauser and I got along and and so started the collaboration. We spoke on January 2nd, 2011 for the first time and a day later, we met for coffee; on January 7th, we were shooting video and that's it.
Whose idea was it for the type of video?
Mine. The first time I heard their version of "Smooth Criminal" was strange. It was interesting, done with only two cellos. Then I watched Michael Jackson’s original video of "Smooth Criminal."
I suggested that we do a tribute to Michael Jackson, with Hauser and Sulic fighting in a coffee shop, and then becoming a battle between the cellos, which was recorded at the Croatian Veteran’s Hall. Hauser had some other ideas, but we went with my suggestions and it paid off.
How was the video edited where the two cellists are alternating so fast [the dueling cellos sequence]? This required great precision.
After [we] completed a basic editing, Hauser helped with the details. He would tell us where the sound and the images didn’t match - that in one place, the sound was a little late, in another, the fingers aren’t correct, that the parts are not the right ones. Hauser helped with the details which I couldn’t recognize since I'm not a cellist, so don’t know... Sometimes, we had to literally just move the video around for about two frames because he saw that the sound was delayed for the image or something.
"Smooth Criminal" became a sensation, even more so because it was seen by over a half million people on the net in [just] a few days; did anyone come to you with offers to work together after seeing the kind of attention the video received?
Not as much as I had hoped, in Croatia. There are inquiries; I hear from people who don’t know [that this was my work]; when I tell them that I did this, they recognize it.
For example, after the second video "Welcome to the Jungle," Sony Berlin called me, they sent me to London to film promotional material for the famous violinist Nigel Kennedy; so yes, there are calls from outside Croatia.
Beyond that, I didn’t experience most of the drama about the video; when it was being put on the net, I had gone skiing in Italy, on a hill where there was no Internet connection. So when the phones started ringing, and HTV called and all the chaos, I was away from it all.
How was the editing done? That part of the job is quite demanding. Who's doing it?
My colleague, Ivan Štifanić. He gets all the credit for the editing; without his efforts, the videos would not be what they are. I come up with an idea, we agree on an outline, and then he is the one who moves and cuts things back and forth and chooses the selections that are better.
Sometimes we get stuck and don’t know what to do. I can see that we’ve done something wrong, that something is wrong, but I can’t tell what. So, we go have a coffee and when we come back, he fixes what needed to be fixed even if we didn’t know how to explain what was wrong to begin with.
Have you worked on anything else with the 2CELLOS besides their videos?
I filmed two videos that Hauser recorded with Oliver Dragojevic, for "Brod u Boci" and "Nocturno" and I filmed their [Oliver and Stjepan] concert in the theater in Pula. Now, I get called for other concerts, and have negotiated to film Maksim Mrvica and the Zagreb Philharmonic in Zagreb.
*Admin Note: The marked paragraph translates as follows, but is believed to be a misunderstanding on the part of the interviewer. [Hauser and Šulić had one amateur video for Smooth Criminal they made themselves and uploaded it on youtube, but they removed it when the new one directed by Burlović showed up.]
The information provided by Luka and Stjepan repeatedly is: The video currently shown on SonyVEVO is the same one filmed by Kiki in early January 2011. According to their many interviews on the subject, Stjepan and Luka came up with the plans for the video in December 2010, the audio track was recorded and mixed 0ver the holiday season, and the video shot in early January. After Sony signed 2CELLOS to a contract, they moved it from Stjepan’s YouTube channel to SonyVEVO.