See director Nik Hill's vibrant world of visual metaphors for MJ Cole's new single 'Pictures In My Head'

Director and designer Nik Hill, formerly art director at Territory Studio in London (he was involved with helping to create screen visuals for Oscar-nominated Blade Runner 2049), has animated a trippy 3D music video for MJ Cole’s new single, 'Pictures In My Head'.

Nik Hill worked with three other female 3D artists from across the globe to bring the English DJ's song to life. The result is a surreal world made up of spinning geometric shapes, randomly placed limbs, bold typography and mesmerising patterns.

Check it out.

As a fan of MJ Cole’s music, Nik wanted the music video to be a vibrant world made up of visual metaphors, venturing into the mind of the female vocalist (quite literally in the animation) – creating a dream-like and random overall aesthetic.

"There are sexual undertones in the lyrics so I tried to capture some of this naughtiness and portray it in a way that wasn't crude but still fun and visually appealing,” says Nik. "'Where the magic happens' and 'Breakfast in bed' were just a couple of ideas behind some of the visuals in the chorus."

At one point the head reveals the inside of an apartment and recurring visuals of DJ turntables and speakers.

A diamond, cut crudely in two and held together by just a sticky, gum-like substance that is constantly separating – a subtle commentary on the nature of love and beauty – is another striking visual metaphor.

Nik says the sequence with the pulsating DJ turntables and speakers with the word “you” hanging from the window as one of the most creatively challenging.

"The first iterations were not feeling vibrant enough, so made several revisions," he says.

"Conceptually, the theme of the video is the word 'you' – it's part of the chorus and you hear that word a lot in the lyrics. Because of that it took a bit of back and forth to get the right kind of look so that it felt quirky and more upbeat than the rest of the song."

And a lovely touch – the video ends just as it began, with a wooden head mounted on the wall and the coloured rectangles moving in a circular pattern till it is once again completely obscured.

The animation was created with the help of three female 3D artists from Mexico, Canada and London. Adriana Mora aka Electra, Lauren Galloway and Grace Barth helped to build individual scenes.

Electra created a lot of the 3D environments, Lauren handled the bulk of the 3D modeling and Grace oversaw much of the 3D animation on the diamond sequence.

Never working together in the same room, the collaboration process involved a great deal of using Slack and Dropbox to keep the team to schedule and budget.

Nik completed animating in Maxon’s Cinema 4D and lighting, texture and rendering in Octane before the final sequence was composited in Adobe After Effects. Nik used Cinema4D to create design frames, geometric rigs and key-frames, generally keeping the animation minimal.

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