When one of the world’s leading DJ’s, selectors and tatse-makers tells you they want to use your work for animated visuals, whether you’ve made an animation before or not- you just go with it.
And so began one of my biggest, most ambitious projects so far, animated DJ visuals for Gilles Peterson.
Along with my collaborators on this project- ‘Greatcoat Films’, we set up temporary studio amongst the hustle and bustle of fixed wheel bikers, drunks, coffee and bread connoisseurs, yunmmy mummies and rude boys in London Fields, Hackney. The studio- a romantic little metal container under the dripping of a railway bridge and racket of a hand car wash. We nicknamed it the ‘Jazz Cave.’ So called because for at least 10-12 hours a day, we immersed ourselves in a soundtrack of Jazz, Hiphop, Latin, Cumbia, Brazilian, AfroCuban, Afrobeat, House and any other genre or artist associated with or given to us as inspiration by Gilles. Producer Simon Oxley and I being keen vinyl heads, it seemed only right to have a record player in the studio.
In the Director’s chair sat budding young Director- Piers Dennis, who recently worked with Greatcoat on their Record Store Day Documentary. It was Piers and I-with occasional help and steering from Simon- who bunkered down in The Jazz Cave for nigh on 4 weeks, producing hand-painted, stop-motion, animated artwork, designed and created by myself in response to Gilles’ brief. As well as using imagery of musicians, genres and locations Gilles had cited, we also played with the concept of ‘Searching For The Perfect Beat’ and ‘Worldwide’ two of his slogans as it were.
From my perspective as the Artist, it is a very different ball game designing an animated sequence to a straight up illustration. The image is the end point so a lot of the time, it was about working backwards. We very rarely wanted anything to be static, so it was very much about taking my designs and designing ‘flow’ and ‘transition’ with and around them. A lot of the movement between sequences was done by hand, the paper and board that we worked on would often be layers of artwork thick. I had to be prepared to paint over work, even when I would have otherwise been keen to keep it.
I found it essential working with a small crew. It was amazing having a Producer with the knowledge and experience to set this project up and keep the cogs turning and equally so a director, at the computer, capturing images (we used Dragon Frame for all you animation nerds out there) and thinking out the flow and sequencing. The distance between myself and the paintings as they were created compared to the distance Piers had viewing it through the capture screen meant he was able to keep a strong overall sense of the piece. This really allowed us to keep things fresh and keep things moving in new and interesting ways.
It was a real labour of love for the three of us, certainly one of the most creatively free and genuinely inspiring projects we’ve all had the pleasure of working on. Big ups to Gilles Peterson and Sarah Jones at Brownswood for the inspiration and support.
The above film is a short version of the visuals set to the music ‘Something In My Soul’ by Diggs Duke.
To give you more of an insight into the process, there are some studio shots and a little jazz mix of artists we listened to.
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