Animator Gergely Wootsch tells us how he created new Savages music video

Animation production studio Beakus and animation director Gergely Wootsch have created an animated music video for London-based band Savages' new single, Marshal Dear.

We caught up with Gergely, a Hungary-born animator who's now based in London after graduating from the Royal College of Art two years ago, to find out more about the animation and how it was created, from receiving the brief to animating the final, four-minute-long video.

DA: Can you tell us about the brief for the music video?

GW: "When Gemma Thompson, the guitarist of Savages, contacted me, she had a clear concept in mind. The initial idea was based on Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five, in which a disillusioned American soldier recounts his experiences of the Second World War and his adventures in time travel.

"Gemma imagined a continuous sequence played backwards: Bombs would emerge from the ground and flow into the belly of an aeroplane. The plane then flies backwards, away from the city in flames and lands on an airstrip. A bomb is taken out from the plane and back to the factory where it is disassembled. The sequence culminates with the bomb taken apart and its mineral forms placed back into the ground."

DA: How did you approach the brief when you began to create the animation?

GW: "Gemma's concept and her references helped a great deal to set the visual tone of the piece. It was alluding to something old and I thought the imagery should draw inspiration from the archive images of the war. Something distant, yet familiar.

"I was also keen on investigating the potential of the narrative and we agreed it would be interesting to focus on two scenes: a sequence of the bombing raid but more importantly, introduce, even briefly, a singular character placed in the factory that would become the focus of the piece.

"I went to one of the Savages gigs before I jumped into production and I realised the raw energy the band communicated was essential to communicate in the clip too. I tried to keep this in mind all the way through the production. Gemma was really generous and open-minded about my ideas, which made me feel like I was being given all the creative freedom I needed."

DA: What techniques did you use to create the animation?

GW: "I wanted to create a drawn piece initially, however, while storyboarding, I grew concerned that the camera moves I had imagined would be difficult to create in 2D.

"I started experimenting with a 'convincing enough' 3D look that would work well together with drawn, 2D textures. Most assets were 3D, composited in After Effects with 2D boils and textures. I also built a few scenes in 3D that had a 2D illustration camera projected onto them. This means I was able to render accurate shadows. Working in 3D also allowed me to populate scenes with only a few assets, making it possible to deliver the piece in two months.

"I decided to take an approach with the animation that would invite happy accidents (which is not an easy feat if one is to plan everything rigidly). Despite having a shot breakdown and a storyboard, I never locked the scene lengths down. I decided to create all scenes in isolation and treat them as separate images – usually with a 10 second handle. This allowed me to overlay and edit scenes freely, improvising timing."

DA: How did the music video differ from your previous projects?

GW: "I think about rhythm often when I animate and therefore it was fascinating to work with music. I did little experiments before that were music or sound driven but never a music video. It was a 'first' for me, but not a 'last'."

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