TinSpider creates a ninja adventure for The Nextmen

Kenny Frankland -- who runs animation studio TinSpider -- has just finished work on an anime-influenced promo for Lions Den, a breakbeat track by The Nextmen, featuring Ms Dynamite and Andy Cato of Groove Armada.

The promo follows on from Frankland's 3D animation work on London Elektricity's All Hell is Breaking Loose, and his popular video for Mistabishi's Printer Jam.

For Lions Den, Frankland sends The Nextmen, Ms Dynamite, and Andy Cato, on an action adventure into the bowels of a hostile ninja dojo. He gave us an insight into the making of the promo.

DA: What was the brief? Did Nextmen or Ms Dynamite have a clear idea of what they wanted, or was it down to you to come up with the look and feel?
KF: The brief was only that they wanted me to produce a video, which was great. I had complete creative freedom to come up with what I wanted which is always a bonus, so story look and feel was all down to me.

DA: What were your initial ideas?
KF: Due to the nature of the lyrics I instantly saw some sort of Kung Fu thing in my head. First as an 1980s video game, then as a piece of anime.

The track changed as the production went on. The first version of the song sounds very different to the version that was released. It was split up into more parts, separated by a slower chorus so I envisioned a lift sequence to each chorus piece, and the fighting in the faster paced parts of the song as if they were ‘levels’ of a game.

As The Nextmen made improvements to the track, the majority of the slower chorus sections were removed from the final track so all my lift sections went too.

DA: Who/what inspired the promo's visual references and look and feel?
KF: The main inspiration was various anime series and films but the budget also had a say in how it looked and what could be achieved in the timeframe. 3D cel shaded animation is a lot quicker to render so it’s good for tight deadlines and it works well with the anime feel.

DA: What was the hardest bit of the project? How did you overcome this?
KF: Coming in on time. I had such a lot to do in a short space of time. I managed to get a friend to help with some modelling but I was still ended up working 16-18 hours a day in order to get it finished on time. There were also a lot of delays in getting things signed off as so many people were involved so that ate into my schedule a bit.

DA: How long did the whole project take?
KF: The whole project took just over five weeks to complete and that was working very long hours. I could have done with a week more but I had a holiday booked the day after I was due to deliver!

DA: What software did you use? Why did you choose those packages?
KF: I produced the models, animated and rendered in 3ds Max. I produced textures in Photoshop, composited in After Effects and edited in Premiere Pro. I chose these programs purely because I am comfortable using them and I know what I can get out of each product in order to meet the deadline.

What was the budget (if you're allowed to reveal that)?
KF: The budget wasn’t too great. I couldn’t afford to hire anybody to help me and had to blag help from a friend. With the hours I put in I ended up earning less than minimum wage, but the enjoyment I got creating the video made up for the lack of pay – plus it’s been great exposure which has seen lots of other work come in that is higher paid so it is worth taking a cut in pay sometimes!

DA: What would you have done differently if you were to do the project again?
KF: I felt I did all I could given the budget and timescale but if I had longer or could have paid someone to do all the modelling and rigging I would have spent more time refining the animation, look and the actual edit. I feel a lot of the animation doesn’t work, neither does some of the pacing – but I did what I could.

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