Ah the process of creating an animated music clip! How I love thee.
- After Effects for some simple 'scribble animation' effects
- TV PAINT to draw/design 'Backing Singers' and other main assets (the Fishbone and Apple core for example)
- Text creator to create the custom hand drawn style texts used to emphasise specifics lyrics
- Final Cut Pro to key frame the animation and create custom VFX and editing
The design brief for The Trouble called for 'visual distractions' and animated 'filler' to work alongside the singer who is centre stage. It was decided early on to use a black and white aesthetic with limited colour colour - red being the chosen variation to the B&W rule. The custom red designed for The Trouble has an RGB co-ordination the same colour as that of 'oxygen rich blood' and was chosen as a symbolic representation of 'breathing life into that where before there was none'. A motto I have long held in regards to my artistic practice when animating and was happy to give it a place called home amidst the bones of The Trouble.
With the colour pallet sorted we moved onto style and landed firmly and quickly on thin, clean white lines using simple shapes and clean designs.
Crisp and 'popping' were the words used to describe how it should look, with natural movements and nothing overtly 'cartoonish' (ie massive amounts of any good old 'squash and stretch' were out)
Due to the nature of the source footage being animated to work around, there were times when the animation would be required to interact with the pre recorded visuals. When this occurred it was simply a matter of compositing assets created in TVPAINT into FCP to keyframe them as though the moved with the actions on screen. For example the RUBBISH pile being thrown on the ground and then 'chucked' away by the singer or the point at which the sing moves her hand through the word 'WASH' resulting in it exploding into water droplets.
Some of the simplest animation created for the clip was done so via After Effects utilising the trendy 'scribble animation' technique. Youtube videos will explain how to create this type of animation and it is incredibly enjoyable to make as well as being an effective visual abstraction used to creative emotive narrative in a simplified manner. After Effects was also used to create the simple exploding/shatter and motion tracking effects of the hearts at various points within the clip.
The stylised silhouette animation at the beginning was created in TVPAINT using a technique that was time saving and simple - to help fit budget.
CREATING the ASSETS
With our style guide complete the bulk of assets created for the clip centred around designing a custom font - which was built using an open source program and original handwriting scanned, imported and typed out within TVPAINT. Both an uppercase and lowercase custom font were created for The Trouble. After being exported at RGBA specs and imported into FCP, the font - now in the form of carefully chosen words - was animated with a simple fade-in-fade-out technique and as perfectly timed responses to the lyrics as they are sung on screen.
Designing the backing singers and lip syncing them to the lyrics was a relatively easy process of creating several mouth shapes to match the few words they 'sing' - the trick to bringing them to life lay in their head movements as they sang. As with any kind of character animation, eye-brows play an all important part of giving life to an animated object. For characters that do not open their eyes, they come across as expressive and nuanced.
Much too squeamish to get one myself, a full and happy day was spent designing just their specific 'look' and the neck tattoo is a style choice I am proud to say I live vicariously through.
VFX and EDITING
If I could live inside a program it would be Final Cut Pro. I love this program. It makes everything better.
The clip required some kind of EXTREME visual 'drop' to compliment the two climactic points in the song: the first being when the singer steps towards camera (the only change in position up to that point) and when the instrumental KICKS in.
It was obvious that the clip needed to be in black and white from the beginning and so it was edited thusly. Pina holds centre stage and is visually engaging from the moment she fades into scene. Using colour as a narrative device gave me the ability to literally 'explode the scene into colour' when called upon as well as create another extreme visual drop to sync with the instrumental section - at which point animated 'flicks and flecks' dance around the singer. As the clip was designed to 'come full circle' we needed to end up in black and white again, but to avoid the law of diminishing returns we needed to go out differently to how we came in. And so, we experimented with editing in a black and white comic style graphic aesthetic alongside introducing sharp zoom-ins and exaggerated camera moves and lighting VFX. What we ended up with is a solid and consistent visual representation of the sonic narrative. As the music changes so too do the visuals, matching each other in their intensity and complimenting each other. Just as the animation was designed to compliment and enhance without stealing focus.
...Despite what the client initially thought they wanted.
You can watch the full video HERE by scrolling to the bottom of the page