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21st February 2013
Line dancing
Title of film: Hem - Tourniquet
Director: Jordan Bruner
New York-based Jordan Bruner talks about her creative process for animating the band Hem's delightfully quirky music video

How did the video come about for Hem’s track Tourniquet? Are you friends of the band or were you approached?

I was approached by the band’s manager Aled Roberts, and I don’t know how they found my work! I was allowed to pick my favourite song from Hem’s new album, Departure and Farewell, to make a video for it.

And how did the narrative unfold? Was it your response to the lyrics? And did you always have these wonderful animalistic characters in mind?

The music and lyrics of this song really resonated with me. I love designing and working with quirky, animalistic characters – this being something I’ve done before, but wanted to push it further and make a more traditional narrative.

Please describe your creative and technical process, how you actually go about creating the animation.

It all started with character designs, sketching and painting, and making storyboards. Once that was settled, we painted the puppets with inks and gouache, and Greg Lytle and I cut them all out and assembled them. Then we started the character animation, shooting against a green screen on an animation stand. While this was going on, the backgrounds were created, mostly drawn in Photoshop, and as the character animation was coming in I composited in AE.

Can you describe your work room please? Is there a view out the window?

I work in a studio in my apartment. The setup changes depending on what I’m working on, but for the music video we had a animating station, a compositing station, and an editing station. There are some plants, too, art books, felt clouds on the wall, drawings from friends, things like that. It’s always a little bit messy :/

I live in Crown / Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, on a busy street called Eastern Parkway. One time a friend came over and said if you just pretend the noise of the cars are the sound of a river it becomes very soothing. That works until someone slams on their brakes or starts honking. But there are lots of trees, which is hard to find in Brooklyn, and that’s why I like living here.

From your portfolio please pick your favourite five pieces of work and tell us why you like them? (See work in Related Content)

Oh wow. I really like the music video I made for the Dive Index. It was really fun collecting all the footage, which is something animators don’t get to do very often. I got to climb mountains and drive through the country, walk in the woods and swim in the ocean. Since I was a kid I’ve loved the idea of portals and the illusions that are created when you do things like hold two mirrors up to each other, or when you see a tv inside a tv inside a tv, inside a tv.

I like the large cut out people I’ve made in the past, giant people kissing. I love working with paper and collage, and it’s really nice to work on a large scale.

Similarly I like the giant leaf woman I made for an art show recently. It’s nice because she is sort of a culmination of working on a micro / macro level. I have a tendency to work very small and obsess over tiny details, and I loved sewing all of these tiny little drawings together to create something completely different.

The Leaf Woman and the Centaur – I learned a lot about stop motion and constructing puppets while working on this.

Thursday for the Sundance Channel. I loved drawing all the bird people, and I love the song by David Driver. Doesn’t everyone want a living room on a tree branch?


Jordan Bruner

Strange Beast