Watching Apache is like riding a merry-go-round of revolving visuals. With each part building upon itself in steady rotations, the piece reads like a narrative. Directed by illustrator Ned Wenlock, alongside character animator Rodney Selby, Apache is a Wild West inspired music-video for indie rock band, Danger Beach. Through a looping tale of time and travel, the characters assume several modes of transportation, only to be defeated by the modern metropolis.
Read our exclusive Q&A with Apache director, Ned Wenlock, here.
What was the concept behind the spinning environment in the piece?
I had a rough, hazy idea for what happens in the video based on the music. The pace of the music suggested traveling to me. I liked the idea of the Apache traveling from his home via different old fashioned modes of transport and finally getting swallowed up the modern city, giving a sense of nostalgia – similar to the start of the film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ with it’s track ‘Everybody’s Talkin’. The spinning environment came out of a need to find an interesting way to show this. I started with a panning background. To show distance and visualise his journey of where he’s coming from and going to, I folded the picture plane twice, creating an ‘S’ shape which then moved off to exit screen. The spinning environment came out of that, I just thought it would be cleaner and more concise. The layering of action came out of exploring the new possibilities of this style, the fact that you can have simultaneous scenes overlapping like a cross dissolve is quite exciting.
How did you execute the concept and what types of mixed media where used?
The video was created in After Effects with imported files from Illustrator, textured in photoshop. I had 3 main comps that ran the length of the video, one for the inside loop, the middle loop and the outside loop. The backgrounds panned inside these comps (pic A) and the main action happened in the centre. These comps were then taken into the final TV res comp and turned into 3D. I then duplicated each comp about 10 times and masked along the comp (pic B). I attached each section to the one previous and rotated all of them on the Y axis to form the bend. I then masked the ends so that the action dissolves to nothing.
The style of the environments and characters is very graphic. Was there a particular inspiration for this approach?
I do like things to be simple. I’m attracted to mid 20th century design but I don’t tend to get locked into a style. I like to explore things graphically through shapes and have something come out of that. A bit like a magpie, I’ll find a shape for a nose I like and use it on one character but use something different for another character. I like the concept of collage of styles within illustration.
Altogether, how much time did the piece take you from start to finish and how was the working relationship between yourself and the band, Danger Beach?
I contacted the band at the end of Feb this year and I worked on the video in my spare time finishing it last week. It’s a self initiated video, I do these to explore Illustration styles and modes of storytelling that I don’t get much chance to do in my commercial work (www.hoverlion.com). The band was understandably very happy.
Do you have future plans to continue working in the music video genre?
Yes, I think the simple combination of music and animation is one of the best things going. I’ve made a few already and I do plan to make more. It’s just a matter of finding a track that sparks something I want to say in animation.
Legend for numerals in last image:
1. Making the panning background fold so that you can see the foreground become more distant.
2. Working out the angled edge, it’s built in After Effects so no curves.
3. Making the whole thing circular (I wasn’t sure what to do with the ends so I put in a divide).
4. Getting rid of the divide altogether, paring it down.
5. Designing the ends so that the imagery dissolves from one side to the other.
6. Thinking about carousels within carousels, plus the waterfall coming in at a different angle.
7. This refers to the colours on the inside of the circles, strong and simple like old Wrigley’s chewing gum packets.
Director: by Ned Wenlock
Character animation: Rodney Selby
Music: Danger Beach on Dream Damage Records.