The project blends everything from particle animation to hand-created watercolour splashes that explode onto the screen in time with particular elements of the music.
Ste-Marie says: “there wasn’t one specific program out there that we could find that did everything we wanted to do, so we just explored anything we could get our hands on. Some of the time it was just easier to draw the damn thing, so we did.”
She adds that finishing a project is always an odd feeling – “especially one this labour-intensive. It’s been with us a while, so it’s tough to let it go. There’s always the part of you that thinks, ‘Oh, if I had one more day I could’ve done this, or another weekend and we could have added that,’ but at some point you cut the cord and save it for the next kid.”
Sitting on the dock
The backdrops of Spacious Thoughts are major performers in their own right: together, they make up a spindly, derelict city that the characters rocket through, consisting almost entirely of the outlines of rusting metalwork. Creating them was a serious chunk of Fluorescent Hill’s work.
They headed to Montreal’s shipping docks and spent days exploring, armed with a digital SLR and a small HD camera.
“Afterwards we went through all of the photos and broke everything up into categories like Best Traffic Signs, Best Train Engines, Freighters, Road Markings and so on,” says Johanne Ste-Marie. “Then we took all of these and made collages. Once all the shots worked with each other and within the context of the video, we redrew everything, right down to the screws and bolts. We kept the line really loose so it didn’t look too technical or digital.”
Once they had these line drawings, Fluorescent Hill coloured everything in layers of translucent flat colours, creating a multi-layered effect where the buildings appear to be see-through.
“After that it was just a matter of destroying these really crisp, clean drawings by erasing chunks and ripping out parts of the colour,” says Ste-Marie.