The Mill has created animated titles for this year’s Ciclope Festival, a big event in the South American advertising calendar. Created by illustrator mc bess – whose ‘day job’ is a director at the post house – Simon Landrein and Mill Design creative director Carl Addy, the short film reveals the alchemical process of a wizard creating an advertising campaign using visual and aural styling between mc bess’ rock-charged artwork and psychedelic horror movies of the 1960s.
The idea for the piece was Carl’s, so we sat down with him to find out more about how it was created. But first here's the piece itself.
DA: What was the brief and how did you respond to it?
CA: "We were asked to interpret 'the advertising production machine' as a short motion piece. We responded by depicting a set of rituals designed to sell things. Title boards tell us to use this ritual to sell x; A priest mumbles incantations; Potions are production techniques; Sexy zombie voodoo gals gyrate... standard stuff really."
DA: Is advertising really the 'Dark Arts'?
CA: "No, that’s just us poking fun at what we do. I think it would be pretty arrogant of us to think that we have that much control over people. I do think that if you had to take some poor guy from the middle ages and use a time machine (we have one of those at The Mill) to bring him to the present day and show him what our industry does, he would probably think we were sorcerers. I would hazard a guess that he would try and burn some of us at the stake."
DA: What did you all bring to the mix for this piece?
CA: "l had the idea pretty early on and after talking it over with mcbess and Simon, it kinda directed itself. I did a rough storyboard while all three of us did character and style explorations.
"One of the tricky things initially was trying to make room in the project for three bold creative voices. The truth is that any one of us could have designed and directed the whole piece, but we were keen to all work together on this in the hope that it would go somewhere more interesting. Luckily we all share a very similar sense of humour and aesthetic."
DA: Tell us a little about what you did individually on the project.
CA: "mc bess did the characters [of the] priest and voodoo gals. Simon did the opening, environments and spell bottles. I did the title boards whilst overseeing the script and narrative elements. Many of the characters and title boards were designed from bits and pieces of all of our initials sketches. We then worked with some pretty talented animators to bring it to life, in particular Ivo Sousa and Kwok Lam brought a fair amount of talent to putting it all together."
DA: What were your instructions to the animators?
CA: "We discussed trying to make it really lo-fi, [as] we were interested in telling a rather dark tale in a cute way. One of our early references were all those old cartoons that people have turned into animated gifs. We liked the repetitive looping nature they bring, it just seemed the right tone for some of the more psychedelic moments. mcbess suggested we do that crazy stereo animation or 'wobble' effects you see on some of those old photography gifs. I wanted to use those bad overlays you see on old dream sequences, like in The Twilight Zone. The rest just came through trial and error."
DA: Was there anything that was particularly tricky on a technical level? How did you overcome it?
CA: "The project was pretty straightforward, the trickiest part was to marry all the shots evenly, so the video looked as one. Also the ‘dark arts effect’ progressively affects the video, so it was important to balance the amount of extra graphics [and] effects to portray it. The other challenge was that the production time available was very limited and long days were required to get it to a nice finish."
DA: What do you like most about the piece?
CA: "Other than working with a crew that forced me to up my game, I just like that it is good old fashioned storytelling, told in a fresh way."
DA: Who created the music?
CA: "I did.... in a hurry. Who would have thought I had a natural tendency to be an electro goth?"