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Elliot Moss' Midnight Drone Turns Utah Into An Alien Planet

When you watch the strangely illuminated world that unfolds in this new video from singer Elliot Moss, it's hard to believe any part of it is real. The abandoned buildings and strange landscapes in his video for "Closedloop," shot in pitch-black darkness by a floating drone, look like tiny models on a set, or maybe an ancient civilization on an alien planet. It's both eerie and captivating. But it is, in fact, all real, shot in the remotest parts of Utah.

The entire effect is made possible by an unbelievably powerful but small light mounted on the drone that makes it possible to shoot at night from incredible distances. As operator Daniel Riley notes, "When it's up in the air and you flick on the light, it's almost like you've turned on an artificial sun." It's a remarkable tool that made it possible to capture images in the middle of the night in profoundly isolated areas, casting deep, long shadows that move and fade away as the drone passes overhead.

"From the moment I wrote it, 'Closedloop' put this image of a soft, isolated beam in my mind," Moss tells us. "The tune always felt black and white to me. So for the video, I wanted to incorporate these long, distorted shadows. And while researching different methods of creating them, I encountered Daniel Cummings and Calen Albert's work [at RC Test Flight]. What they are doing is beautiful. If anyone could bring this vision to life, it was them."

Moss co-directed the video with Cummings and Albert. "Closedloop" is from Moss' upcoming EP, Boomerang, due out April 28 on Sounds Expensive.

See more about the light bar technology designed by RC Test Flight.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.