Wildest 〰️ Sugar Music Video

During the summer months when the weather was scorching I was busy animating a music video for a band making waves after initially being featured on BBC Introducing, the band being wildest and the song being the mouthwatering Sugar and I am thrilled to announce that the music video and this labour of love has finally been released and can be viewed here. My good friends @tom_boxx and @ellie_carolyn who I was a VFX runner with came to me with an idea for the music video reflecting stop motion animation and an abundance of collage like elements superimposed on a bright orange background. Obviously I had to jump at the chance!

〰️ Wildest Band Members Jack, Harry & James of Wildest 〰️

In detail to do the song justice and get this music video right was to create the music video in a stop motion, choppy nature and have it reflect Wildest’s signature style – so warm seventies nostalgia, groovy cylindrical patterns and shapes with a swirling psychedelic orange background. The background constantly rotating while the assets in the foreground have a black and white monochrome half tone effect to represent old paper and show stark contrast to the tantalising orange. All the elements combining together to bring everything full circle and complementing that warming nostalgic boppy funk that makes you want to throw some serious shapes to wildest effervescent syrupy coo’s and snappy drums.

〰️Wildest Sugar Cover Art 〰️

Some tidbits in how I figured thing out; A turning point came to me when I figured out how to export all of the videos firstly from premiere to remove the green screen and then after effects to add the half tone effect and then bring that clip into Maya as an alpha channel while having the green screen removed, what figuring that out meant was that I could manipulate the videos as they are now technically 3D objects – extruding, deforming, bending and deleting parts all now achievable and made for some fun experiments. I’ve attached some videos below of having a muck about with stuff that didn’t make the cut.

〰️Experimental Maya Tests〰️

Now that I knew how to get the videos into Maya I could really play around with the elements, dialling up the surrealism and elements for the foreground for a smorgasbord of intricacies including lightbulbs, scaffolding, cages, trees, stars, floating eyeballs and mouths as well as taking pictures of my own hairy legs and arms to place them into odd angles and add to the mind bending dreamscape of sugar. I took inspiration from Max Erst, Hannah Hock, Dali, Terry Gilliam and the installation art of Tony Oursler, all of which these incredible artists offering some help into the surrealistic collage approach I was going for.

〰️ Max Ernst, Hannah Hock, Terry Gilliam & Tony Oursler Mood board 〰️

I liked the idea of in a way breaking the fourth wall by showing the animator making this lucid trip happen by key framing and moving pictures of my hands as they slot the elements into place, including the offering of the sugar bowl before the final pupil dilating adrenaline rush of the end scene.

I was really excited to be given free will from Tom and Ellie to come up with the instrumental end part of the video which starts at the sugar mountain scene where the windmills are made out of spoons and sugar while the lads of Wildest melt into a hallucinogenic Mount Rushmore. The end shot where the camera starts to fly through the mouths of the band members as the sugar follows was one single shot within Maya and was really finicky to animate as Maya isn’t really meant to have high quality alpha map videos of real people within a scene; let alone having many, many duplicates of them and I mean it when I say my laptop nearly melted! Sounding like a jet about to take off as it slogged to painful speeds as I keyed the transparency on and off of every element within that shot. The resulting shot turned out to be my favourite and I am glad I just trusted my gut and went wild (pun intended) what it came to be was a complete sugar rush where the trippy psychedelic nature was dialled up to an climax and in doing so gave the rest of the music video a place to flow towards.

〰️ The Instrumental End Scene 〰️

What I loved about doing this project was that I always crave having people in my circle that get it and go for it. Tom and Ellie get it and they go for it, they just want to create stuff together to build up their roster, by figuring it out as you go which is all part of the fun. I may have been made redundant from the job that we all shared together (thanks Covid) but it’s those relationships that I have made with creative like minded people that is worth its weight in gold – much more than a monthly pay check. If you would like to support this funky fresh band that is wildest, the tantalising sugar can be streamed on all music streaming services now.

The Green Glider – Metropolis World Update

〰️ The Metropolis Renders and Paintovers 〰️

I have gone back and decided to do a paintover of the metropolis world for The Green Glider animated short. After playing about with the Oasis world by trying to adopt real world references with the render showing depth and field, focus and atmospheric perspective I have decided that I want the rest of the worlds to follow suit. With previous renders of the metropolis world the bubble cars that are crowded around Ash’s careworn car were too overpowering; even though this would follow theme with how the story unfolds it just didn’t look nice, to combat this I want the lights of the bubble cars to be brighter and more exaggerated with a bokeh effect of yellows and reds dotted around the meandering roads in similar vein to the concept art below.

〰️ The Metropolis Concept Art 〰️

The focus needs to be centred around the Ash’s car with the surrounding areas being blurred which I think can be achieved with render layers and a dark vignette to pull the eye right to our main character. A spotlight on top and pointing down onto Ash’s car will further draw the eye towards him for the opening shot. I also need to reel things back with this world as the render times are horrendous, over a few hours for a single frame isn’t ideal so I’ll have to do some tinkering.

The Green Glider – Flower Bloom Experiments

〰️Rendered Animation〰️

I have been experimenting with how I want to achieve the flower blooms within the story of The Green Glider. These blooms where animated using a mash up of different methods – mainly blend shapes which really in its name where you can blend from one object to another by duplicating the first original mesh editing it a tad and then repeat for a few more. It was tricky to animate as blending the blend shapes to their full extent made the flowers too large and angular so I had to go in and use deformers to bend the flowers down and not dial the blend shapes all the way up.

〰️Blend Shapes〰️

To make the flower petals pop and look more organic after animating using the blend shapes I selected each individual petal and key’d them to pop into place, the animation could be refined more but since the world will be populated with many of these blooming plants and much more abundant with flora I think the overall scene will achieve the vivacious life of the Oasis, tests of how the overall effect looks to come!

〰️ Mock Up Composite 〰️

Boogie Woogie Jive 〰️ Full Film

When this past weeks kick About was revealed I knew I wanted to make a film that was quick and spontaneous, what I didn’t know is that it would be bursting with colour and that it would feel very cathartic and fun to work on. A lot of the stuff going on in the film was a bit of a fluke with the music driving the animation, serendipity was definitely sought after with this film and I for sure felt that; feeling giddy when the renders had finally finished. I’ve always wanted to muck about with Maya’s motion design plugin – Mash and I learned a lot about it with this little animation as for me I think the best way of learning something is to jump straight in and try and make a film out of it!

The Kick About #14 〰️ Boogie Woogie by Norman McLaren

This kick about over at Reds Kingdom was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed injecting some colour into the greyness that is 2020. Dancing blobs, brush strokes and spirals got me out of a bit of a funk as I think it’s impossible to fret when listening to the tunes of Arnold Ammons who accompanied the vivacious animation by Norman McLaren – The whole Boogie Woogie genre is sure to make you smile.

It’s also proving worthwhile translating what I am learning from the Ersilia project into this little animation as the same old school paint effect techniques of those constricting ropes in which Ersilia resides is used in a much more colourful way with this approach. I apologise for the tragic quality of the video! for some reason it looks like I uploaded it with a microwave… but as this current version is a WIP hopefully I’ll figure out why the crispness is naught… or maybe that works well with the nostalgia of the music? I’ve attached some screen grabs and more experimental renders that are being edited in for the latter chunk of the song.

Screen Grabs

Experimental Renders

Ersilia 〰️ Film Update

Ersilia is starting to flourish as I continue to work on it which is a refreshing way to go about things as in this manner figuring it out as I go is proving enjoyable. I really love editing to music where a piano cord or violin screech effects how I interpret the edit, making it so that the music drives the edit and overall feel of the film and that is very much the case with the music accompanying the film created by Sergey Cheremisinov. The song which is entitled Sleepwalker has sporadic, creaks, fizzes and pin drop like spot sounds which adds another layer of texture to the music and invigorates a visceral response when animating the accompanying visuals.

The music starts off slow with a mesmerising hum that gradually builds up to water and bird song heard in the distance before transforming into something more violent and throbbing with surges and pulses echoing throughout. I am about to move into the more complex scenes which is the second half of the film and where the music swells and grows as will the visuals and is the part I’m most excited about.

I think because this film doesn’t have any moving characters and isn’t plot driven I want it to feel more ambiguous, more abstract and up to the viewers own interpretation. What I want to accomplish with this film is to feel like you are just experiencing the music, like the film is rhythmic and an extension of the music to embellish the song and work in tangent with it. It is all completely new territory for me and one that is proving invigorating.

Throwback – Dance of the Happy Shades and Sergey Cheremisinov

〰️ Dance of the Happy shades Film 〰️

Dance of the Happy Shades – a previous kick about over on Reds Kingdom was one of the most enjoyable Kick About’s thus far. I loved this prompt because it came very instinctively where I ended up making a little micro short, filmed from the inside of my bathroom’s poorly painted cabinet in my dingy west London apartment, where the light was shining brilliantly through the dusty bathroom window and in through a crack in the cabinet. I used my phone to film the light as I repeatedly opened and closed the cabinet door – making the light flow across the cabinet and then bringing those clips into after effects and mucking about by using some blend mode trickery, where lights and shadows started to materialise interesting shapes. To the precise eye some of them resembling a shodowy effigy.

The music discovered and accompanied this prompt is by Sergey Cheremisinov, which really drived this short and remembering that I went back to Sergey’s catalog to see if anything would fit the current short that I am working on. I found a piece that made me smile and shiver and after hearing the score it changed the periphery of the film into something a lot less dark, which I think works better (2020 is dark enough!) probably more sombre but I think that will be up to interpretation. Something about Sergey’s pieces with all its the creaks and fizzes overlaid sporadically invigorates a visceral reaction that make it feel like some thing is alive that shouldn’t be. I envision a lot when I listen to his music and like his music I want this film to have a replayability factor, so that really is the mission of this film and a whole new territory for me and one I’m excited to give a whirl.

〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 1 〰️
〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 2 〰️
〰️ Dance of The Happy Shades Film Still 3 〰️

The kick About #13 – Ersilia

Calvino’s Invisible Cities – Ersilia

Another kick about is over at Reds Kingdom with a smorgasbord of offerings from artists across the globe. I put forward this prompt over at Reds Kingdom as Calvino’s Invisible Cities is something that has always inspired me, it was my first digital painting project of my first year at Computer Animation Arts and with I started to quickly fall in love with digital painting and because of that it’s one of my favourite creative practices.

With digital painting I do find that their is a “shite zone” where things look like shite for a time before some golden nugget clicks, Whenever I am very deep In the shite zone I remember back to the invisible cities project and just how curious I was about the vast possibilities that photoshop has when it comes to digital painting. I found myself trying every tool within photoshop to see what it did and because of that I wasn’t worrying about the final outcome but enjoying the process and visualising the possibilities as they started to materialise. I always try to mimic that feeling with everything I do nowadays so that an accident or just mucking about with something can leave something interesting.

With this prompt Calvino describes a city made out of strings – “In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or grey or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain”

I originally was thinking about doing a piece of concept art or traditional art but I was itching to do something a bit more abstract and a bit uncanny. The Uncanny is always something I’ve wanted to take a proper bash at, inspired a good few kick about’s ago where I went into detail about the eerie nature plumbing from my Dad’s basement and in that basement Dolls inhabited the darkness along with the spiders and the pungent dust and how it all horrified me – in the best way; remembering that I decided this kick about was the one for such imagery.

The film is currently still ongoing, I am thoroughly enjoying doing something aesthetically completely different to anything I have ever done before and also learning the technical elements to achieve the look of the film, which aren’t that technical and a bonus! The whole film is rendered with Maya software which is glorious because it is rendering quickly and means that it doesn’t take long to see the results, I choose this option for that reason and also because Maya software renders with the moody lighting I was after. Until the film is ready to be released I have attached some of the renders from the film below.