This elegant, luminous music video was created (almost) entirely using Trapcode Suite

VFX artist and director Jean-Marie Marbach has created a brilliant, abstract music video that follows the journey of a bird for Canadian electro band Tennyson.

Jean-Marie’s video for Tennyson’s track, L'oiseau qui danse, has been entirely made with Red Giant’s popular After Effects plugins for motion graphics, Trapcode Suite (and custom After Effects scripting). 

Check it out.

Initially created as homage to the abstract animation style of Visual Music, the music video takes on an aesthetic inspired by Walter Ruttman and Oskar Fischiner’s works, but with modern tools. 

“Instead of re-creating what those artists did in their time, I wanted to showcase today’s tools used in the same spirit (and more specifically particles which I find especially suited for abstract animations),” says Jean-Marie. “So despite my inspirations, I knew this video would end up looking different.”   

“What also contributed to this difference is that I had to feature a bird flying around, and no matter how stylised the bird or the grass fields are, we’re not in complete abstract territory anymore, so my work ended up following its own path.” 

Jean-Marie was also inspired by the “complexity and virtuosity” of Tennyson’s music, which remains “flowing and full of life.” He wanted to create an animation that seemed equally complex, but with a simple flow.

“Listening to [the music] brought on these images of a cheeky bird, discovering its environment and playing with it. The tricky part, despite my abstract inspirations, was to bring some kind of logic to the chain of events and show how each shot brings the next one,” says Jean-Marie. 

“Watching the video, I guess you can make some sense of it and see a story of being frightened of your own potential, then learning how to control it and finally unleashing it to take off on your own path.

"But in the spirit of Visual Music, I’ll leave the final interpretation at the viewer’s discretion.”


How it was created using Trapcode Suite

For all the Trapcode Suite lovers, here is how Jean-Marie used Red Giant's software to create stunning motion graphics. 

Aside from the bird – which was created with simple parented 3D solids – Jean-Marie’s entire video was created with Trapcode Suite, which includes 11 plugins for After Effects. To find out what’s been upgraded in Trapcode Suite’s Particular, Form and Tao plugin ins, click here

The grass and flowers were created with Trapcode Particular – an industry standard 3D particle generator. Ambient particles were created using Trapcode Form (which creates 2D particle grids in 3D space), whilst various “wispy and exploding effects” were created using Trapcode Mir (for 3D surfaces, terrains and wireframes). The environments were created with Trapcode Form and Horizon.

The grey origami totem at the beginning was created with a low-poly Mir layer (a very simple but effective way to create origami shaped objects).

Jean-Marie used custom After Effects expressions and scripting resources from Dan Ebberts (freelance script and expression designer “ever since those features were added to After Effects”), allowing him to lock particle emitters to the bird’s wing tips position, and link the particle amount to the wings velocity. 

“This last expression allowed me to keep a constant amount of particles blending with each other, and therefore avoid unpleasant burnt-out spots in the bird’s trails when the wings were slower,” he says.

Every environment layer – grass, flowers, fireflies – was rendered separately in 4K Open EXR, and then composited before final grading. 

Dan Ebberts has worked with Adobe, MTC and CBS to create complex animation rigging via expressions and scripting. He’s built automation tools for animators.

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