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One of the finalists in the Taxivision Contest featured at
July 10, 2003

Updated Thu, Jul 10, 2003 - 7:43am ET

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 Entry Page has posted a look at one of the nine finalists in the Taxivision Contest, where fans made a video for Tori's song "Taxi Ride". The article looks at Memphis animator Lee McCaulla. Lee's entry is the only animated entry. (If any of the other finalists in the Taxivision Contest want to send the Dent a story about how they made their video and their reasoning behind it, please email me and I will post it!) Don't forget to vote in the Taxivision Contest at

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You can read the article below or at

Bold take on Tori

Amos in peril comes on strong in McCaulla video entry

By John Beifuss
July 10, 2003

A Memphis animator who created a stylized, cartoon version of soul-baring rock chanteuse Tori Amos has been chosen by the singer as one of nine finalists in a national music video contest.

Lee McCaulla, 34, was one of "hundreds and hundreds" of filmmakers who created a music video for Amos's song Taxi Ride for the online contest, according to Epic Records publicist Tracy Bufferd.

The four-minute video and its eight rivals can be viewed at, where visitors also can cast a ballot for their favorite interpretation of the song. The contest ends at 7 p.m. Friday.

As a competition, Tori's Taxi dance may not be generating the same torrid buzz as American Idol, America's Top Model or Survivor: Africa, to name some recent reality shows that cast Mid-Southerners in the spotlight.

Still, as of Wednesday morning, some 21,000 music lovers had voted in the contest, dubbed "Taxivision" by Epic Records. "I'm hoping I can generate some local support," said McCaulla, who ranked seventh in the voting as of Wednesday.

McCaulla, a native Memphian, is a graduate of the Disney-sponsored California Institute of the Arts who worked on such projects as Aladdin and The Ren & Stimpy Show before returning home to start his own commercial production company, Creative Forces Inc.

McCaulla's video is the only animated film among the nine finalists. In it, a computer-animated Amos is depicted through a series of quick cuts as a variety of characters: Eve in the garden, Rapunzel, Justice, Joan of Arc, a Tiananmen Square protester, an astronaut, a beekeeper, a ventriloquist and puppet, and so on.

The boldly colored video adopts something of the stylized, simplified visual style of the classic UPA cartoons of the 1950s and '60s that starred Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing-Boing. McCaulla comes by the influence honestly: Jules Engel, who worked on the UPA shorts, was one of his instructors at CalArts.

McCaulla described Taxi Ride, which appears on Amos's most recent album, "Scarlet's Walk", as "kind of a dark, harrowing song about a woman on a journey, a woman on a crazy ride.''

"In the video, I wanted to flash images of a woman in peril who's still strong. I thought if Tori were Eve, she wouldn't have eaten from the fruit, she wouldn't have screwed things up. She would have said, 'I'm a strong woman, I don't need it.' "

The flame-tressed Amos, 39, is a politically committed, sometimes theatrical singer known mainly for stark, confessional piano ballads. She became famous with the release of the album "Little Earthquakes" in 1992, and six albums followed. But the singer arguably has received as much attention for her founding of RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a nonprofit organization for victims of sexual assault.

In a statement about the video contest, Amos said: "I really appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that everyone put into this project. . . . This just proves that the visual arts community is alive and well and inspiring us."

Although the lyrics of Taxi Ride eulogize the death of a gay friend, McCaulla said he wanted to animation to recall the "fun and sense of purpose of those good old MTV videos from the past," as produced by such groups as The Cars and A-ha.

McCaulla learned about the contest April 3, and made his video in five weeks to meet the May 15 deadline - which he said was very speedy, considering the technology involved. He created the video entirely on an Apple Macintosh computer, using the Adobe Illustrator program to draw the images and the After Effects program to animate the drawings. He learned he had been selected as a finalist last week.

According to Bufferd, Amos selected the finalists herself. The videos went online July 1.

The contest, which carries a $2,000 first prize, is sponsored by Epic, and Apple QuickTime, a free program that must be downloaded in order to view the videos.

The article also shows several frames from the animated video, with the following verbage printed underneath these pictures:

For a music video for her Taxi Ride, balladeer Tori Amos is cast by Memphis animator Lee McCaulla in cartoon personae ranging from Eve in the garden to a ventriloquist with puppet. McCaulla's four-minute video is among nine finalists in an online contest that ends Friday. To see the videos or vote, go to

Taxi Ride, on the album "Scarlet's Walk," is "kind of a dark, harrowing song about a woman on a journey, a woman on a crazy ride," McCaulla says. "In the video, I wanted to flash images of a woman in peril who's still strong."

In a bid for the $2,000 first prize, McCaulla created the video in five weeks using an Apple Macintosh computer: Adobe Illustrator was used to draw the images and After Effects to animate the drawings.

Stylized visuals are classic Lee McCaulla, and reflect the influence of Jules Engel, one of his instructors at California Institute of the Arts who worked on UPA shorts, including the likes of Mr. Magoo.

"I really appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that everyone put into this project," singer Tori Amos said of the video entries. "This just proves that the visual arts community is alive and well and inspiring us."

Posted by: Mikewhy

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