Finished the video for the song Hello Frustration by wimps and am very happy with the final result.
As expected, animation takes time. Below is three snapshots showing the animation of the first verse coming together.
The initial concept of the video I was planning on using the color palette, that is in the initial closeups, throughout the entire video. However, after illustrating the buildings with that palette I found it too distracting from the main bicycle character and that of the "anxiety" clouds. I then decided to go more minimal and work on a grayscale background which I found allowed the main characters to jump out more and provided a contrast to the very intense closeup introductions that start the story of each character.
Research and Inspiration
Story from North America is a video that I found a very long time ago in the middle of going down a youtube rabbit hole. It was so much different than anything that I had seen at the time. I was really struck by the quick and dirty animation, the jangle of the linework, and how the animation matched the feeling of the song and the subject matter. It also was a lot of fun and had a lot of what I wanted to incorporate into my work on Hello Frustration.
Batman Spinning Cut
When mapping out the song early on I figured out that it had three verses which matched the three band members. I thought that in each verse each of them could tell a different story and each show how they overcome this physical manifestation of their problems, kind of like a superhero fighting a villain. Rachel the bicyclist attacks her problems with positive thinking, Dave the drummer hits his anxiety with a pizza and Matt (me) the bassist uses a scooter to squish his frustrations. So getting thinking like each member is a superhero with their own little story I got the idea that it would be fun to introduce the character at the beginning of each story. Just a quick little closeup of who they are before it goes to the wide shot of them moving through the city. I then remembered seeing a Simpsons episode where they cut back to a Bart story and parodied the Batman cut, but with Bart's head instead of the Batman logo. I thought that would be a fun add on to the video and used it for each character.
I love animation and wanted to do an animated video but we all know that takes forever and ever and ever. I think I have heard that a traditional Disney animated feature takes 5 years or something to animate and that of course is done with a team of animators. The above Story of North America took two years for two people to complete and that is only 5 minutes in length. What am I to do? Well some of my idea on how to shorten the process was from remembering watching some of the Hanna Barbara cartoons of my youth. They came up with processes that cut corners (and costs and times) from the popular Looney Tunes full animation of the day. Where Looney Tunes would animate every single part of the body, Hanna Barbara reduced the character to just a mouth that moved or eyes blinking and looped alot of the rest. They looked walking, talking and backgrounds. You can see the looped background at 1:00 in on this Pixie and Dixie. By looking small sections of my animation, and using the built in movement controls of Premiere and After Effects I could get a lot more motion with a lot less drawing time.
Below is some color inspiration and then also street shots. I knew early on that I wanted to show the characters taking their problems "to work" and stated in the lyrics of the song and thought it would be fun to show them heading to work. To do this I needed to illustrate a city backdrop. A great set of buildings with a lot of variety I think is found in San Francisco on Mission Street. I google streetviewed going down the street there and took screenshots and then photoshopped the buildings together and simplified them to get a realistic feeling for the building backdrop.