Tale of How
Epic. Beautiful. Weird. The Blackheart Gang’s “Tale of How” is a voyage through a surreal landscape (which the Gang calls “the Household”) populated with duck-like creatures being ravaged by a tentacled sea monster, Otto. In the end, a cute, mousey hero named Eddy the Engineer bursts onto the scene to save the day, making for a tidy little narrative that is both strangely familiar and incredibly odd.
If Hieronymus Bosch and Terry Gilliam had a lovechild, maybe it would resemble this video. The visuals are a lush and organic pastiche of 2D and 3D elements, with a hand-crafted attention to detail that makes every still a joy to behold.
Equally impressive is the soundtrack. Composed and recorded by The Blackheart Gang, the music was written especially for this piece, and its lyrics tell the story in a operatic style that is refreshingly original.
The Blackheart Gang
So who are The Blackheart Gang? The short answer: a collective of artists, designers and animators living in Cape Town, South Africa.
The long answer? Well, I think their own (decidedly adorable) words are the best description:
“Ree is a illustrator with red hair, freckles and braces; she also has a very short temper, a ticking time bomb of sorts. Markus is determined and strong, his heavy noble brow is set under a constant frown, he makes music and writes. Jannes takes all of Ree and MarkusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bits and pieces and makes them real. TOGETHER THEY ARE THE BLACKHEART GANG!
The Blackheart Gang is a well oiled machine, a collective of good friends with passion for the arts. Each member has their own sets of skills and talents that form an incredible collaborative dynamic.
Ree Treweek – Illustrator, concept and character developer for The BHG. Ree is 27 and works as a freelance illustrator.
Markus Smit (Wormstorm) – Musician, concept developer and writer for The BHG. Markus is 24 and has a musicstudio called SayThankYou.
Jannes Hendrikz – Compositor and Creative Director for The BHG. Jannes is 26 and works as a compositor and designer for BlackGinger Visual Effects.
We all live and work in Cape Town, South Africa.”
How did they do it?
Again, in their own words:
“To keep it short…Ree drew all the elements with pen on paper, scanned them, and coloured them in with Photoshop. Jannes would then build a scene with her elements in Photoshop, and prep the layers for After Effects. He would then build a 3d environment in After Effects, add live-action elements we shot, and animate all 2d elements. A lot of time was spent blending the 2d elements and live action to create a living world with depth and dynamics. Environmental elements like caustics and volume light helped to achieve this look.
The next step was to give the 3d guys a background plate to animate on. Justin Baker who did all the 3d work, modeled all the birds and developed shaders to look like Ree’s drawings. We wanted to maintain an authentic feel, so it was important for the 3d birds to look as 2d as possible.
Jannes would then composite the renders into his scene, treat them and do the final camera animation. Markus then composed the music and recorded the voice artists.
We really hope to inspire people. This project was about beauty, sincerety and passion. We want to share that. And hopefully, for just a moment, pull people out of the chaos they have grown so accustomed to.
We see The Blackheart Gang as a lifelong project. And we have a lot of plans and ideas for the future.
The Tale of How is one of the histories from The Household. Difficult to tell you much about it in short because it resides in Markus and Ree’s heads. But, it is huge, with many branches and we will probably be working on it for the rest of our lives.”
A little more…
To augment the depth of all of this creative output, The Blackheart Gang has created a couple audio files that are definitely worth listening to.