What was the original brief from the musicians?
Thien Vu Dang from APM300 approached me to create a music video for the Montreal band Beat Market. The video’s basic narrative of the two band members wandering around an alien landscape finding their way to their next gig is essentially Thien’s idea, with some provided reference images. The band agreed with the concept and in the end as the sole animator I had carte blanche and complete control on the visual design of the final elements.
How did you go about building the landscapes – totally in cgi or a merging of photos and effects?
The landscape is a mix of CG for the architectured elements such as the fuselage and the worm superstructure, and the matte backgrounds were made from photos taken during the weekend shoot. Principal photography took place in an immense mining quarry in rural Quebec and that superb location offered a rich basis for the post-production stage. Although I do have a modest background in illustration, the mattes were challenging to create as I never truly made mattes before, neither in hd resolution, and at this volume of about 25 unique shots. It was a good learning process.
Once these were done, integrating footage of the band was very satisfying because it brought it to another level. In many ways the final mattes are augmented versions of the original footage as I tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original edit I was given and later reworked a little. Later in the production it became clear that a lot of unforseen effects and footage would have to be developed digitally to flesh out the missing parts in the edit that were not taken into account in the original shoot.
Looks as if it was a long process – please tell us about the creative thinking behind it and how you developed it.
Well I’ve been keeping up with the wave of high profile sci-fi films coming out lately, like Prometheus, Total Recall, Pacific Rim, Oblivion – looking at work from concept artists like Aaron Beck (Elysium, Keloid) and graphic artists/designers like Ash Thorp (Ender’s Game, Total Recall, Prometheus) or David Lewandowski (Oblivion, Tron: Legacy) who all worked on these projects. An excuse to catch up on anime – Evangelion 3.33, Attack on Titan, Psycho-Pass, The Garden of Words – has also proven useful, since a lot these animations feature mis-en-scène with very dynamic action that takes place within a fixed camera angle, very much like how Aviator 2000 was planned during the shoot.
We were aiming for a movie-like feel for the music video, but at a fraction of the budget of course. The matte backgrounds went through an iterative process. There are probably three versions of each shot, mainly because my technique was improving as I made them, and all the shots had to sequence in a uniform way so it was imperative that they were consistent when assembled together. The first version of the mattes worked like an animatic without the motion design effects applied yet but with captions of the key effects to add. Gradually once the backgrounds started taking shape, I started applying motion effects such as the holographic gauntlet, the comet, smoke effects, and integrated 3d models which culminated with the ending panorama of the deserted alien colony.
Design & animation: DEFASTEN