Sometimes The Stars: Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment

Ari Gibson and Jason Pamment (Director and Art Director of The Cat Piano–read also our post on that award-winning film here.) teamed up again, this time to bring us this gorgeous music video for the title track of The Audreys’ new album ‘Sometimes The Stars’. The storyline and art direction is simple (you won’t find any glossy eye-popping CG here) which in my opinion makes the end result even more effective, poignant and memorable. According to Ari and Jason, ‘at a basic level it’s about someone suffering from a loss and their journey towards making a connection.’

I caught up with them to find out a few questions about the project, you can read all about it after the jump. But for now, sit back, turn up the volume, dim the lights, and enjoy…

Thanks for the tip, Jayden!

(Click on each image to see a larger version)

1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves, and how did you end up working together on this piece?

Jason: I’m a freelance Art Director and Illustrator based in Adelaide. I’ve been in animation and VFX for around 6 years, having begun my career as a designer and 3D artist in film and television, before being given more Directorial opportunities.

Ari: I’m an Animator and Illustrator also based in Adelaide. I’ve been working in the animation industry for about 7 years now. I served as Art Director at The Peoples Republic of Animation (PRA) for several years working on countless film, television and video game projects, eventually transitioned into taking on Directing roles. Since then I’ve moved from the PRA to become independent and further develop my own style and voice in the industry.

Studying at the same art school between 2000-2003, it wasn’t until 2006 and The People’s Republic of Animation’s short film Sweet & Sour that we first worked together. From that time we’ve been involved in a number of commercial and film projects, including the PRA’s 2009 short The Cat Piano, which Ari Co-Directed with Eddie White and Jason Art Directed. Although we’ve collaborated on numerous commercial and film projects, this music video is the first time we’ve teamed  up independently on a production.

2. How did the project come about? What was the initial brief like?

The clip began with Producer Luke Jurevicius and The Audreys’ lead singer Tasha Coates. They had been friends for many years and had wanted to collaborate for some time. The Audreys’ single Sometimes the Stars became that chance. Luke approached us having seen our work on The Cat Piano. The clip seemed the perfect opportunity to pursue our goals of creating mature emotive animation.

When we joined the project, a simple and evocative idea already existed. The concept, by Luke, of a girl journeying towards a fading star through a sky filled with monstrous creatures, was our starting point. Included with the concept were some excellent sketches by  Shane Devries. At the time the clip was intended to be done in 3D and the design reflected that, with more form and detail to the characters and the world.

 

3. How did you arrive at this final solution, narrative wise, and design wise?

Our first task was to flesh out the narrative and instilling atmosphere and a mature tone to match that of the song. We built acts and structure around the idea, conceived scenes and transformed the fantastical environment into a dreamscape. The once disparate elements within the world become allegory for the Lost Girl’s memory and emotion. For the conclusion of the clip the fading star became a character and the moment of connection: an intimate union of lost souls.

The design of the clip evolved both out of necessity and as a natural extension of our narrative development. Despite being initially envisaged as a 3D production, we chose a 2D approach, feeling the warmth and artistry would marry well with the song’s soft melancholy. Our narrative adaptations, to a more subtle suggestive story, played out in these visuals: the world became more vague and mysterious; silhouettes and mist became prevalent, with simple shapes emphasised over detailed forms. To pronounce this graphic approach we emulated stage lighting techniques and used simple theatrical compositions, working in monochrome with only a subtle grade at the end. Working only with monochrome values created greater consistency throughout the piece and helped us finish shots more quickly. With only the two of us for the bulk of production these stylistic decisions aided us immensely in outputting shots with efficiency and made the clip achievable on the tight schedule.

 

4. Hardware used? Software ? What was your production process/pipeline like?

We use Photoshop for all the 2D animation and background art, as well as most of the effects animation. Photoshop’s animation timeline transitions nicely into After Effects, which we use for compositing. In a typical shot, Ari will produce line animation that will go on to be coloured, while Jason paints the layered background art. We’ll import those Photoshop files directly into After Effects retaining all the background layers, which can be animated and used to create camera moves. A compositor will then add effects plates, animate layers, grade elements and generally fine tune a shot until we’re happy with it.

5. Timeframe? Budget ? Crew size? Credit list?

We worked on the clip over about 4 months, finishing in December of 2010. Hours were long with six day working weeks and regular days ending between 9pm and 1am. We were lucky enough to have Ryan Kirby compositing for a month and a half. Illustrator Jarrod Prince and Animator Joshua Bowman also helped out, colouring the 2D animation. As is the case with most projects of this nature the budget was tight.

(For full credit list please see below)


6. Biggest challenges technically ? Creatively? Any unexpected stumbling blocks?

Having worked on similar 2D projects before, the pipeline was fairly familiar to us. Challenges tended to be more creative than technical. Obviously with such a small crew we needed to work in an achievable style. Building the clip in monochrome suited the song and made shot consistency much easier to manage. We could marry the character to the
background far more cohesively and quickly than we could working in full colour.

Another creative challenge was in keeping the style appropriately simple. We wanted something that felt quite
traditional and organic, however when working digitally the easiest solution isn’t always the right one stylistically. For instance there were times in which we had to resort to 3D software for tricky perspective animation. While these methods save time, we had to carefully integrate them so that all the visuals match the intended style.

7. What’s on the agenda next? what can we expect from you guys ?

We’re currently mid-way through our next music video, again in 2D. In some ways its similar: a mature approach with a strong narrative; in some different: a more classic style with a semblance of watercolour. We won’t mention to much more for fear of ruining the surprise. Suffice to say it’s going well.

As artists and animators we want to promote the Australian animation community and its immensely talented people by  continuing to tell stories with emotion, through relatable characters and to the highest standards of which we are capable.

 

Thanks Ari and Jason, we wish you all the best for your future projects!


Credits

Music by The Audreys

Produced by Luke Jurevicius

Directed by Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment

Production Designers
Luke Jurevicius, Shane Devries, Jason Pamment, Ari Gibson

Story by
Luke Jurevicius, Ari Gibson & Jason Pamment

Executive Producers
Tasha Coates, Tristan Goodall & Stu McCullogh

2D Animation Ari Gibson

Background Art Jason Pamment

Compositing
Ryan Kirby & Jason Pamment

Colouring
Jarrod Prince & Joshua Bowman

Special Thanks
Sarah Macdonald, Makoto Koji, Jeremy Hill-Brooks

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About the author

Lilian Darmono

/ www.liliandarmono.com
Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Lilian moved to Singapore and eventually Australia for her studies, eventually graduating from Swinburne NID in Prahran, Melbourne. She then worked in print design before deciding to switch to the field of Motion Design in late 2003. Her obsessions include travelling, illustrating, and cats. She is currently in the London leg of her 'Mograph Tour Around The World', and calls Melbourne home.

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