Moving away from videography during the pandemic, members of the company’s inhouse creative group embraced new digital tools, including After Effects, to produce captivating video content that often provided fans their first visual representation of a new song.
Even though the pandemic forced many of the young video creators at Universal Music Group’s °1824 division to step away from their normal videography projects, some pivoted quickly, and effectively, into animation and motion graphics. With time on their hands during quarantine, these artists taught themselves new skillsets, fueled by instructional YouTube videos of Adobe After Effects, and tips from colleagues with animation experience. AWN has chronicled five of their works, showcasing their short films produced using all manner of digital tools, over the past year.
According to Todd Goodwin, SVP, Head of °1824, “We create visual stories that have to be in lockstep with an artist’s vision. When the pandemic hit, we found ourselves in a position where the need for quality content was becoming more necessary than ever, but our access to the artists and ability to be physically present was drastically diminished. It was at that moment when the team really dug into their bag and began to prioritize and showcase skills that we hadn’t seen. We started to see the team really testing themselves and delivering content that not only meets the current challenges head-on, but will be a silver lining when we look back on the pandemic.”
Goodwin notes that they’re looking for an emotional response and understand that their content may be the first visual representation of a song that a fan sees. “We take that responsibility seriously and must deliver regardless of the circumstances,” he continued. “The team evolved to produce captivating music video content that you’ll see in this series.”
Let’s revisit our five featured music videos, lyric videos, and visualizers:
Maya B’s ‘Sink (ft. SAINt JHN)’ music video, animated by artist Carolyn Knapp.
Knapp used pieces of paper, gold foil, and her own clothes, along with Photoshop and After Effects, to create her innovative 2D short.
The White Buffalo’s Sycamore music video, animated by artist Baptiste Leroux.
To capture the lyrics’ dark gravity, Leroux used hand-drawn frames in TV Paint for a textured, stop-motion look.
Team Salut’s Boom Bam lyric video, animated by artist Lauren Brems.
To capture the song’s beat and energy in 2D, Brems drew fast scribbles over video frames of her friends dancing, integrated with subtle word movement.
Brye’s LEMONS lyric video, animated by artist Justin Moon.
In his in 3DCG pieces,Moon used Blender, FLIP fluids plugin, and After Effects to produce the sterile imagery that’s gradually corrupted by seething anger.
POORSTACY’s Get Out visualizer, from Internet Money Records / 10K Projects, animated by Yemi Faleti.
The Baltimore artist used Premiere Pro with Boris FX’s Sapphire and Red Giant’s VFX suite to produce the rapid cuts and melting colors in his CG visualizer.
Built and run by Goodwin, °1824 is powered by young artists and serves as UMG’s internal creative solutions team; 85 reps in 50 markets provide services including content creation, live events, experiential activations, college media outreach, A&R scouting, tour marketing, digital marketing, and campus and lifestyle visibility. This team has become UMG’s talent incubator for the music industry, placing more than 80 reps into full time positions (and 50 at UMG alone) since 2015.
“Our creators are focused on bringing the artists’ music to life through visual content, and the goal is to amplify the voices of our artists and tell their stories in a meaningful way,” says °1824 Sr. Director Frank Hill. “When quarantine started, we tasked each creator with further developing a skill outside of their key competencies. For some, this included motion graphics, VFX, and animation. The °1824 content team was able to take the pandemic and turn it into an opportunity to grow versus seeing it as a hurdle. By expanding the skill sets of our creators, we are now able to tell the artists’ stories in a more interesting and visually appealing way.”
“At °1824, we are entrusted with the responsibility of creating content that fits in our artists’ worlds and tells their stories,” adds John Jigitz, °1824 Sr. Manager, Content. “We do not take this privilege lightly. In college I was a content creator on the °1824 team, and now I’m lucky enough to work with our incredible artists across UMG’s catalogue and manage a group that is constantly innovating, surpassing expectations, and inspiring me and the rest of °1824 management every day.”
All °1824 content creators are paid employees and members of the UMG team. They don’t outsource, and all their assets are created by teams of compensated employees. All content is produced for their labels/artists for °1824; individual creators are credited for their role in the content creation.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.