MELTYBRAINS? :: DONEGAL
A few people have been asking me lately about my process for creating my visual work. I actually find it pretty hard to explain because it sort of just is what it is and the truth is most of my stuff is incredibly unplanned and accidental, in that the best ideas usually have to be stumbled upon at some point in the process. Its not the cleverest approach but the idea is never quite complete until it's finished. I thought I would try to write something about how work comes together, it might be interesting, you never know. If you're already bored best stop reading now, there aren't any jokes hidden in here anywhere.
My favourite projects are always ones where I have freedom to mess around with ideas until something clicks. This music video isn't very new but it is one that might be worth explaining. It's a mix of stuff, some live footage captured on 5D, some digital particle rendering and plexus work in after effects, then a whole load of hand drawn stop motions photographed and imported as video. The band are Metlybrains? and they're fairly good at music if you didn't already know. http://www.meltybrains.com/
It started with a brief of sorts which was to make something slick that reflected Meltybrains? LP artwork in some way and stuck to a black and white colour scheme, a bit of a challenge for me because I always think of colour first. The lads were also pretty intent on having a LOT of flashing images that took off around the last third of the track. To me Meltybrains? music is incredibly visual anyway, if that makes sense. I find it easy to see the vibe of it, even if it starts off abstract and inarticulate in my own head. The LP artwork was built around the patterns created by starling murmurations so that was a rough start point. After a few failed attempts of catching a live murmuration on camera by hiding around Lough Key (it was the right time of year for it) I started looking into digital renderings.
I found Cinder, which does an amazingly good job of digitally manipulating a swarm of particles. I wanted to make a bit of a big deal out of the record itself as it was the bands first record, and also white is handy for animating on. So rough idea number 2 was to have the record be the canvas onto which the animation would be mapped.
So the digital animation for this was all After Effects. Plexus for the hexagon bursts at the beginning and Cinder for the rest of the swarm animation. This took a hell of a long time and nearly killed my latop. A lot of tweaking to get it right in conjunction with the track and masking to make it seem natural. Animating this way I find is heartbreak and far less fun than it looks.
The hand drawn stuff though...serious fun. This was the best discovery. I find I do a lot of stop motion work for video projects but I've never used it to animate drawings before so this was a great little find. Although it took a really long time I wasn't tied to my laptop to do it, I just spent a few lovely days banging out tunes and drawing and photographing each line. Doing things by hand this way is so rewarding. The only words of advice I can give with any conviction is that if you are bashing your head against a laptop, put it away and go back to basics in whatever medium available.
I imported thousands of photos into premiere pro as footage and layered and chopped them any way I wanted. I was able to knock out the white or black depending using the blend modes, darken or screen, and messing with the contrast a little. So the end of the video just became layer upon layer upon layer of stuff and a whole lot of flashing and strobe. Fuckin great craic until you try to export the thing. Spinny wheel of death every time.
Just near the end point of editing this I sort of hit the wall with it. I spent a day or two looking back at it and feeling like it was a mess and didn't make sense, and my project file was a nightmare so even from a technical standpoint it was hard to see what was going on. I went to their gig in The Pepper Cannister in the middle of this, and just listened to the track with eyes closed like a big nerd. But it worked. Being removed from the project file made it a lot easier to figure out where things needed to go and how to build the visuals into the music and not the other way around. Ended up writing an essay in the notes part of my phone immediately for how I could fix the video.
I'm struggling to think of anything else that's important. Oh yeh, beware of horses, they're very dramatic and mad for fighting. And commandeer your friends to help with madness, Rob's hands for painting on, Cat's warming words of advice.
There it is there below.....careful now. It's harsh on the eyes at the end.