Animation direction Steve Scott has completed his second collaboration with Will Sweeney for Birdy Nam Nam’s joint-jolting new track The Parachute Endings.
When Birdy Nam Nam the French Hip Hop mix-master maestros first contacted cult illustrator Will Sweeney to see if he could help out with a video for The Parachute Endings, the first question was 'how?', and then 'what could be done in the timeframe available'.
Sweeney, contacted Steve Scott at Not To Scale through his design agency Big Active to see if he was available and interested in helping come up with something deserving of the surprising bass-thumping music, which was produced by the Gallic electro gods of Justice, Gaspard Auge & Xavier de Rosnay.
Sweeney and Scott had first teamed up in 2008 to make the opening intro for Channel 4’s music programme
Brain storming sessions ensued, the band gave Sweeney and Scott total trust and a completely open brief to do what they wished with the record. Will had already illustrated a record sleeve for the Birdy Nam Nam crew. The sleeve had a sci-fi theme and it felt correct to stay within this territory for the video. The synthesisers in the track lend a very retro filmic quality to the music and Sweeney shared with Scott some of the reference for his own inspiration and illustrations.
Perhaps most relevant the 1971 Cannes Film Festival contender, the beautifully surreal animated feature Planet Sauvage, which has an otherworldly quality that felt like the perfect reference for the setting and a technique which could be sympathetic to Sweeney’s own drawing style.
Lost in music
With the look and feel decided on, and faced with such a high energy track, with minimal lyrics, it felt right to interpret the music like a lost soundtrack to a bizarre film or forgotten film sequence, a standalone short film with no reference to the known world or the band.
Because animation promos are so labour intensive and timings were tight, the intention was to use Sweeney's detailed drawings in a simple and understated way, almost as if shot on a rostrum camera with simple walk cycles and many illustrations as possible re-used. Somewhere this got forgotten and Sweeney and Scott embarked on selling in an animatic that had 69 shots to cover off, a lot of drawing required and even more animation and compositing to be completed in a insomnia inducing four week schedule.
Completed wholly in Flash and After Effects the animation crew had to painstakingly recreate Sweeney's detailed style over hundreds of film frames to lend the video the authenticity and wow factor that the treatment demanded, a comic- book style narrative ensured the audience remain intrigued but never confused as the surreal battle ensues. Encapsulating a video that will stand the test of time.
Scott says that "the sheer workload involved finishing over sixty shots, in a little over a month was a little frightening, from storyboarding, to animatics and then of course animation and compositing, with some shots containing over twenty separate elements or more, the task was daunting. Suffice to say a lot of hard work from an A-list crew ensured we got over the finish line shattered but ecstatic with the results. Thanks also to Will, the band and label for giving us such free reign and not adding to our task with unnecessary ‘tweaks’.”
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