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27th March 2023
Road Rager
Title of film: Ashnikko, Worms
Director: Raman Djafari
Production Company: Blinkink
In just a couple of weeks, Raman Djafari’s pedal to the metal promo for Ashnikko’s track Worms has racked up north of 1.3m views and inspired an outpouring of love in the comments section. The most liked fan note comes from The Kittens Room (with a crazy 4.6k upvotes!) and sums it up in a nutshell – “She has a better budget and creative direction than some A list artists.” We won’t ruin the illusion by talking money, save to say Djafari’s video was birthed from within the illustrious walls of the BlinkInk studio, where presumably they’ve managed to master some sort of Rumpelstiltskin-style machinery that makes the impossible seem effortless. Or it might just be pure passion…   Stephen Whelan caught up with Djafari to get a glimpse behind the wizard’s curtain of this awesome promo

Was there a clear brief from the commissioner for this in terms of a starting concept or idea to play with or did you have relatively free reign to let your imagination go wild on this one?

The genesis of the project was an outline of the album’s narrative created by Ashnikko and their creative director Vasso. The story they developed revolves around the Weedkiller and a bleak future where angelic white robots have taken over, leaving all organic life in hiding. Additionally, I was provided with a variety of images, including anime fairies, mecha robots, and medieval depictions of devilish creatures. As I delved deeper into this world, I was reminded of Pieter Bruegel’s painting “The Fall of the Rebel Angels,” which portrays an epic battle between angels and demons. The overwhelming mass of bodies, demons, beasts, angels and spirits colliding in this painting became my conceptual and aesthetic inspiration for the project. My goal was to create an expansive world filled with a multitude of creatures and robots that would mirror the vastness of the story’s universe.

Additionally, Ash really wanted to ride a monster truck in the video, which in a way fit perfectly!

Behind the scenes

How did you go about building out the boards for this one and planning the production?

I had some key visuals in mind in the beginning. One was the aforementioned painting by Pieter Brueggel as a reference for the battle scenes. I also had the idea pretty early, which was about revealing the faux-claymation CG world and the monster truck with a long pull-out from the live action cockpit, thereby linking the two worlds directly in one shot. Based on a few shot ideas like this I started to build out a visual and narrative structure that would fill in the gaps between the key moments.

Considering the short runtime of the video, it was a real challenge to fit in everything that I wanted to do. The key seemed to be to find as many links between CG and live action as possible without making it feel forced but rather organic. For example, Ashnikko pulling the lever and then directly afterwards we see the horn on the truck honking. Same for the battle scenes, we see Ash perform a fight move and then get the move mirrored by the robot.

Since we also discussed to have some classic performance moments by Ash in the video, I had the idea of placing them inside the hellmouth that we see dangling from the windshield at the beginning of the video. That way the first shot, shows the viewer a world, reveals it’s actually a part of the set of another world and then later we find out it is actually a scene we would return to later. That way the performance scenes would be anchored in the same reality as the rest of the video while allowing to introduce a separate space.



How do you go about building creative teams around your projects?

For the CG part I asked the same animators I already assembled for my guest directing work on “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” last year. Barney Abrahams, Harry Bhalerao, Dominic Lutz and Nate Die. They are amazing to work with and I feel like by now we really understand each other very well. Harry even was my intern some years ago and Barney was the only animator on my video for the band Squid. Domo and Nate’s work I found on Instagram. I love what all of them do and through our collaborators they know what I am looking for and what kind of animation style I prefer.  Each of their strength have kind of their own role that fits into my projects pretty well by now.

Apart from those four, I had my amazing producers for both live action and CG animation, Jake River Parker and Molly Turner. They assembled an amazing crew for me, I could’ve never done it without them. They were so good at finding the exact people that I needed based on our discussions. All the team leads were such great collaborators. The DOP Hunter Daly, the set designer Laura Little, the VFX supervisor John Malcom Moore, all are total gems. Same with Ashnikko’s team, the stylist Holly Wood for example absolutely killed it.


Can you talk us through some of the key elements / stages of development from the production?

Sure! In the beginning there is always the pitch deck. For me this is such a fundamental part of the production, because this is where I formulate my ideas. I really enjoy this process. It gives me the ability to develop the entire project in front of my eyes, before we even need to make it. The interplay of images, text and layout is a beautiful way to create an atmosphere and narrative. I discuss my pitch and idea with BlinkInk and we try to sand it down to its core. I tend to get a bit too wordy and dreamy in my first drafts.

After the project is awarded we go into storyboarding. I love storyboarding myself, but since my boards are very, very rough and scrappy, sometimes we get them cleaned up by another storyboarder to make them more easily readable for the client. On this project it was the amazing Mysie Pereira who refined my storyboards. Next is the animatic. The storyboards get timed to the music to figure out a rough timeline. On this project I had the pleasure to work with Isabel Gomez on this.

My next step afterwards is design. Especially characters are crucial to me. I need to figure them out first before I can understand the rest of the world and the cinematography. Once the designs are finished animators/riggers prep the characters for animation. Simultaneously I start blocking in the scenes in 3D, which includes both set design and camera blocking as well as the overall layout. This is where the core of the shots get put together. In there I place the character animations and start lighting and set dressing the scene to make it all look pretty. On this project this stage also interlocked with the VFX process as I incorporated the keyed footage of Ashnikko directly into the blender shots and/or used the motion tracked cameras from the shoot to set the scene up.

Afterwards there’s additional composting, sound design, colour grading and making the credits look nice so people keep watching at the end 🙂


Were there any elements that were particularly challenging – the sheer range of character models you must have had to develop for example!

For me personally it was sometimes really hard to manage these large scenes. In terms of composition and lighting, making the mess look nice without losing this overwhelming cluster type energy I loved so much in the Brueggel painting. Additionally, also just the actual file size! When the scenes get so massive it becomes really hard to work inside of the 3D scene at times.

The amount of design work was actually quite fun, I just enjoy making up characters. There are even more that never made it into the video. I really wanted this world to feel abundant and huge, not like it was just designed for the music video but rather stretches way beyond the boundaries of these 2:40 minutes.


What were your references for this one? There’s a sort of Ray Harryhausen meets Mad Max vibe to the intro and then it morphs through an Avengers Infinity War style battle clash into a final scene that’s a sort of mix of Eldin Ring and Japanese Anime x Gundam. Awesome range of styles and cultural touchpoints!

Haha :). Nice! I like this reading, some of them definitely line up with the references I had in mind.

I often create moodboards that are quite extensive, consisting of various influences. On this project these include paintings by Pieter Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch, Caravaggio, and Goya, as well as medieval etchings depicting beasts and demons. I also included a lot of 80s and 90s mecha-anime influences such as Neon Genesis Evangelion as well as 80s Kaiju movies, alongside Alexander McQueen, Jim Henson, Magritte Humeau, Mad Max, Tank Girl, and Björk.

I like to find ways to let my influences shine through without losing my own voice. It’s exciting to me to see these very different worlds collide and create something new.


Anything else you’d like to share about the project?

Just that I am grateful to get to direct these kinds of projects. To me it’s so precious, getting to partake in the making of pop culture. Being invited by an artist like Ash, who’s work I hardcore admire, being considered as an equal in this process meant a lot, a lot a lot. I appreciate everyone that was involved in this project, the ones that I mentioned here and everyone else. I would like to encourage everyone to watch the credits of the video, I included some cool monster animations in there, so you’ll even get some extra visuals alongside the names of some stellar people. The team on this project was amazing.



Blinkink website





Director :  Raman Djafari // @Ramandjafari

Executive Producer :  Josef Byrne

Head Of Production:  Alex Halley

Production Company: Blinkink @Blink_ink

Producer  :  Jake River Parker // @Jakeriverparkerfilms

Animation Producer :  Molly Turner // @Molly___turner 

Production Manager :  Rowan Mackintosh King // @Rowanmackintosh

Production Assistant :  Maddy Williams // @Melodramaddy

Commissioner:  Sam Seager // @Seagez

Creative Director :  Vasso Vu @Vassovu

Manager :  George Shepherd // @Shepherdgeorge

Day To Day Manager :  Hannah Browne // @Hannahbr0wne

Storyboards :  Raman Djafari

Storyboards :  Mysie Pereira // @Mysiepereira

Animatic Editor :  Isabel Gomez 

Concept Artist :  Camille Perrin 

Cg Character Design :  Raman Djafari 

Cg Background Design :  Raman Djafari 

Cg Lighting, Camera & Layout :  Raman Djafari


Cg Character Animation & Rigging :  Dominic Lutz // @Domolutz

Cg Character Animation & Rigging :  Harry Bhalerao // @Harrybhal

Cg Character Animation & Rigging :  Barney Abrahams // @_yenrab

Cg Character Animation & Rigging :  Nate Die // @Spish.Tv

Cg Artist :  Sandrine Gimenez // @Sandrine_gimenez

Cg Artist :  Klaas Harm Deboer 

Cg Artist :  Michael Marczewski 

Additional Lighting :  Balasz Simon // @Notbalasz

Vfx Lead :  John Malcolm Moore // @Johnmalcolmmoore

Compositor :  Andrew Khosravani // @Andrew_khosravani

Compositor :  Vladislav Enshin

Compositor :  Caroline Terrago 

1st Ad :  Julia Pavliuk // @Ula__la

Dop :  Hunter Daly // @Hunterdalydp

1st Ac :  Rupert Hornstein // @Ruperthornstein1966

2nd Ac :  Nicola Braid

Ac (Prep Day) :  Joe Mcdonald

Cam Operator :  Tanmoye Khan // @Tanmoyekhan_dop

Dit :  Rosie Taylor // @Rosie_taylor_

Gaffer :  Laurent Arnaud // @Sparkswars

Spark :  Johnjoe Besagni // @Jayjaybuzz

Spark :  Kieran Brown // @K_brown_gaffer

Desk Op :  Hudson Daly // @Hudson_daly

Led Tech :  Pavel Stici

Vfx Supervisor :  John Malcolm Moore // @Johnmalcolmmoore

Production Runner :  Leda Contopanagos // @Leda.Echo

Production Runner :  Krishita Desai // @Krishitadesai

Production Runner :  Tom Gonzalez // @Mr_tamborine_man_

Production Runner :  Tom Willows // @Tomwillows_mash

Art Director :  Laura Little // @Laulit

Art Assistant :  Jaclyn Pappalardo // @Jaclynpappalardo

Art Assistant :  Chris Dent

Art Assistant (Prep Day) :  Jack Boston Oswald // @Jackbostonoswald

Art Assistant (Prep Day) :  Joshua Douglas: Warne

Art Assistant (Prep Day) :  Alexander King

Art Assistant (Prep Day) :  Thabet Kimili

Stylist :  Holly Wood // @Hollyblowslightly

Stylist Assistant :  Izzy Frost // @Iz_designz_

Hair Designer Claire Moore @Clmorhair

Hair Stylist Mee Kyung Kim Porter // @Mee.Hair.Makeup

Mua :  Georgia Olive // @Georgiaolive

Mua Assistant :  Carly Roberts // @Carlyroberts_

Nails :  Imarni // @Imarninails

Bts Content :  Eve Mahoney // @Evebelieve

Edit :  Rich Woolway

Edit Assist :  Chris Hutchings

Edit Producer :  Maggie Mcdermott 

Grade :  Coffee & Tvt

Colourist :  George Neave

Colour Producer :  Kathryn Tallis

Sound Design :  Absolute Post

Sound Designer :  Rich Martin 

Additional Sound Design :   Daniel Panayi

Additional Sound Design :  Paminos Kyriazis

Sound Design Producer :  Peter Winslett

A Special Thanks To Will Hooper