June 08, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Q Is R.E.M.’s time-tripping new video for ”Imitation of Life” really based on a single wide-angle shot?

A Yep. The colorful four-minute clip — which finds Michael Stipe (that’s him in the corner) and the band at a crowded poolside bash — cleverly manipulates a mere 20 seconds of footage. The action-packed scene (a barbecue chef catches fire, a woman has a drink thrown in her face, Stipe dances) was selectively sped up and rewound as editors zoomed in on tiny portions of the frame. Director Garth Jennings rehearsed for a day and a half with the cast — several had to lip-synch backward so their singing would seem normal when reversed. How does Jennings describe his process? ”I call it the ‘What the hell were we thinking?’ technique.”

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