We Made A Thing Studios animates the Moruya-born artist’s new single, a story that transforms sadness and angst into a shimmering emo-anthem of hope and acceptance.
Yen has been inspired largely by her small-town upbringing and the challenges she faced struggling to fit in. "Go Away," her first release since signing with Liberation Records (Gordi, Julia Jacklin), transforms sadness and angst into a shimmering, instantly-likable emo-anthem. The single follows the July release of her debut single “Donnie Darko" and an “alluring remix” from Manchester quartet Porij last month.
The video was initially conceived as an interactive music clip, which according to We Made A Thing Studios, was “really exciting” but ultimately would have been a bit rushed. “But,” they note, “in the process of those early discussions with YS and her team, we put forward the 2D character, and 3D mix art style, that we had been developing with another project and it really just clicked. The brand/style/world that the Yen Strange material was inhabiting all started to line up and merged nicely with an 'urban fairytale' type approach.”
“Yen had these awesome sad ghost-like characters in her album and promo art that we were super charmed by, so we decided to build a story around fear and the momentum of running away,” the team continues. “During the concept art stage, a cute little ghost was drawn, and it was decided to include a friendly 'Hope Ghost.' Having that extra character really crystalized the simple elements of contrasting light and dark - Sadness, Hope and Acceptance became the core of the story. And then it was about making it as big, dark, and beautiful as possible.”
Take a few minutes and enjoy!
Once the story was greenlit, the We Made team quickly went from storyboards, to an animatic, to production. The four-person team took roughly six weeks – not all full-time – to produce the music video: concept, storyboards and animatic, production, changes, and polish. Jeremy Kelly-Bakker served as director, producer, lead artist, and writer; Tom Phillips served as writer and producer, with Dook Shepherd spending 1 ½ weeks on ghost design, animation and environment/assets, and Samantha Maiolo spending a week on compositing and shot setup.
The team’s main tools included ProCreate (iPad) for concept art, sketches, boards, and asset creation; Adobe Character Animator for characters, rigging, and lip-sync; Adobe Animate for rigging, environments, and shot construction; Nuke for compositing and cinematic polish; and Adobe Premiere for final assembly.
The project’s first significant hurdle was lip-sync. “Small team, time constraints, and a 4+ minute clip meant that lip-sync was going to be a major time investment for the project,” the team explains. “However, Jeremy figured out a pipeline and rig with Adobe Character Animator using voice and video capture to lay down the foundation of our lip-sync. What would have been days of work turned into hours; this wonderful solution allowed our creativity to be allocated elsewhere, and is certainly a pipeline that will be used going forward.”
Another major hurdle for We Made was finding a way to bring the perception of scope and scale with a limited team and resource base, all while pushing to do the track justice by “making an amazing story-driven clip that fit alongside it.” So they leaned into what they know best: a cinematic narrative and polish approach. “Plan well and work within our means” became key, while having expertise in “Nuke, a heavy-duty tool, went a long way to bringing light, layering and a whole lot of high-end post processes to the final piece.”
“But” the team continues, “it also helped us get everything working coherently and in line with the narrative structures outlined, light and dark, etc. We put a lot of our focus into strong shot composition and framing with lots of interesting curving shapes and strange geometries. We also utilized shadow and silhouette as much as possible to hint at an enormous world without having to build every little detail.”
By leaning on their high-end film/TV/commercial production experience, the team effectively leveraged that focused mindset into a successful indie project. “We were able to focus first on story, keeping it aligned with Yen Strange and her team, but then design and produce the piece with an eye on making it achievable,” the team concludes. “At the end of the day it really comes back to our Wemat philosophy of wanting to make awesome things with awesome people. And this is a project we are incredibly proud of.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.