An over-enthusiastic midwife ruins the miracle of birth, starring charmingly squishy innards and overbearing enthusiasm.
London Short Film Festival – 2020
100 shorts in 100 minutes – 2020
Monstra, Lisbon – 2020
Ben asked if I wanted to do a film for his song that was going to be heard at the end of Joe Lycett‘s Live DVD, I’m About to Lose Control And I Think Joe Lycett. Ben is an all round entertainer and I’ve wanted to make something with him for ages so it was an honour.
The first imagery that came to mind was based on some illustrations I had made that were set in squishy square panels drawn with a brush pen. I hadn’t animated in this style yet and illustration was a relatively new thing for me, so I liked the idea of making a video where every second could be it’s own illustration.
This quickly became ego-bursting madness. I had to remind myself that animation is how the frames get to each other rather than the frames themselves. Once I knew I could just be funny the pressure was removed and I started enjoying drawing good inbetween frames rather than worrying about pretty ones.
The energetic hand drawn animation ended up complimenting the bold, simplified designs to add charm to some potentially disturbing scenes. You’re shoved along before you get a chance to be offended. For the same reason the square images are fitted into a widescreen format to convey a series comic book panels. The rounded square format emphasises the claustrophobia of the twins and the parents, but surrounding it in white and the other frames keeps it breezy.
Ben’s performance of the song, conjured the image of someone who is incredibly excited about this birth but the lyrics are so childishly simple that he clearly doesn’t fully understand the situation. So, naturally I made him the mid-wife in charge. He is literally getting inside and making himself unwelcome in what should be a special moment between this family. Being live action in a cartoon world where he doesn’t belong worked, visually, but I also wanted to mesh the characters together.
It made me think of comics in papers printed in grainy offset CMYK. Sometimes photos of people would be pasted into the world of these comics. They were unnatural cameos lodged in to someone else’s dimension, but there they were. I rooted through some old Beanos while making this post, and sure enough in 1995 we have E17’s Brian Harvey and George Michael dancing about with Plug, Mini and Rasher.
Also, shout out to this kid for successfully plunging the depths of the uncanny valley by drawing Dennis the Menace’s face onto their own face. Terrifying.
Most video editing software only understand RGB, so to get this effect the video had to be exported and brought to Photoshop to separate out the colour. The CMYK channels could then be imported back to After Effects to be combined with some wonkiness, dirt and grain.
Sounds like a faff I hear you say, but we see print so often I think you would tell the difference between RGB and CMYK. At a glance the difference seems small but with CMYK, the black information creates some interesting cut outs particularly where there’s line art. The black also gives the eye something to focus on. I decided to register the ‘camera’ to the black in the final offset images allowing the colours to dance around it. I ended up not creating halftone dots or dirtying the final layers too much as I wanted to focus on the animated performance. That might be another experiment for another day though.The frames were never printed out in production but I wanted a logic for how the frames either side would appear in shot. I settled on rows of 12, which made them flash on and off in time to the beat. Some of the animation is at 25fps, so the animation gets through the rows twice as quick in those moments. Below is a little idea of what it would have looked like I had printed out all of of the frames and shot them in camera.