Q&A with director of Fight Like Apes' new promo

The promo for punk/nu-shoegaze band Fight Like Apes is unlike anything else you've seen recently: it's a sequence of almost 1,300 hand-painted images of the band playing, and yet somehow it has the feel of a live-action promo.

The promo's production gives a new meaning to the term 'shoestring budget', with the work being completed almost exclusively by director Eoghan Kidney and his artist housemate, Kieran Crowley, in a fortnight, with a couple of helpers on the shoot itself.

Kidney, who got a lot of attention last year for his short Here & There, explained how he created the unique promo for the Fight Like Apes promo for Tie Me Up in Jackets.

DA: What was the brief for the project? Did the band give you much direction or were you left to your own devices?
EK: I was told they were looking for a vid so I sent them a little test and treatment and they responded with a yes and pretty much left me to do whatever. They were wonderfully trusting actually, considering that I had them in front of a bluescreen which was basically a big blue sheet hung up with gaffer tape. It must have looked v. unprofessional.

DA: What were your inspirations or visual references?
EK: I VJ with my mate's band Somadrone. I do a lot of live video sampling on stage using Resolume and for one song I was sampling water blots and stuff, so that got me into natural liquid behavior and how easy it is to make something so complex and pleasing. The movement of the band is kind of a reflection of the jerky movement of the liquid.

DA: Did you do the paintings as well? If not, who did them?
EK: The paintings were done by my housemate Kieran "Cory" Crowley who I went to animation college with. He hates animation but has been spending years making paintings. He sold out for me tho. He had to do them really fast, like 1300 in a few weeks. I knew he would end up doing them faster towards the end so I deliberately got him to do a section at the end first. That way there isn't such an obvious decline in the detail.

DA: How did you go about making the promo?
EK: I shot the band and liquid stuff, edited the video and timed out the animation, printed out the frames, gave them to Cory, scanned them in, comped it all in After Effects.

DA: Did you use motion-capture on the spot? It has that sort of feel.
EK: Well that was kind of a cheat – I wanted to use proper 3D tracking but the software was too pricey – I put a few markers on a blue sheet (you can see the residue of some of them in some shots) which I tracked in After Effects. The poor man's 3D tracking! I shot it all handheld to really take advantage of the intense movement you can illustrate by having that kind of depth.

DA: How did you achieve the blending of live-action and paintings?
EK: I printed the frames but made sure to brighten them up first so they wouldn't be so obvious after Cory painted over them. You can see some of the printout still there underneath the acrylic. There was a bit of cutting out in Photoshop once they were scanned too.

DA: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
EK: It was all produced in a total of around three weeks with just two people working on it plus a few helpers on the shoot. I grabbed an intern from another company that shares my office and she was totally great, staying up with me til 3am for a couple of nights. Interns are generally awesome to have around.

DA: What software did you use? And hardware/other equipment?
EK: My Holy Trinity: After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere. I shot the live action bit in the middle with the new Canon 5D mk ii, and used DV cameras for shooting the "bluesheet" stuff and the liquids. Made it all on my Alienware PC and Dell Vostro laptop. Yes, I am a PC man and I make no apologies. They are faster. Fullstop.

DA: What did the band make of the promo?
EK: I actually just got an email from the manager there telling me that everyone's very happy with it. Which is nice!

Check out the promo here.

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