Ghost Robot: “Bonnaroo Line-Up”

Waaay back in July 2008, we posted a Quickie on Javan Ivey’s beautiful “My Paper Mind” video, produced using a self-devised method called “Stratastencil” (inspired by the Stratacut technique, but with an additive process instead). After watching Javan’s piece, I remember thinking, “It would be nice if somebody took this a little further and made a full spot out of this wicked technique.”

Well, it didn’t take long: Ghost Robot and director Elliot Jokelson just wrapped up this amazing commercial to announce the line-up of the 2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Obviously inspired by Javan’s technique, the piece also references Jen Stark’s amazing paper art.

Ingeniously crafted, the spot—to quote one of our authors—”ticks all the right boxes”: innovative concept, great art direction, wicked animation and transitions, awesome typographic work and a smashing soundtrack to wrap it all up nicely. They even did a full 3D version, how nice!

We caught up with Ghost Robot to find out a bit more about the whole process, here’s what they said:

Both Javan Ivey’s and Jen Stark’s work were major influences on the project, though neither were involved directly with its making. Other points of influence in terms of the animation were the Cassius video for the song “The Sound Of Violence” and pretty much any 80’s movie set in the future for typography.

In terms of our process:

Working with after effects animators and a more traditional cell animator we began by designing the piece digitally. We created a 2D digital animation
with an alpha channel where the cut out space would eventually be. From there we ran the animation through a simulator in after effects which allowed us to approximate what the full animation would look like once cut and layered.

When satisfied with the effect of the digital simulation we then took the 2D digital animation (as an image sequence) to our digital print house where we printed onto 12″x18″ sheets of paper from a massive liquid toner Indigo printer. Each of the 1,336 images were then all cut by hand and photographed on a rig that allowed us to see upto 20 frames at a time.

Photography wise we shot with two identical DSLR cameras. To achieve the proper 3D effect while shooting such a small subject we had to find a way to accommodate a very small inner ocular distance (distance between each of the 2 film planes). Shooting with the cameras side by side would have been impossible as it would have required the bodies and lenses to occupy the same physical space. To fix this we used an angled one way mirror one camera shooting from atop, into the mirror and one camera shooting from behind, through the mirror. These cameras were controlled with through a computer which allowed us to keep all settings on the cameras identical.

These stills were then compiled in after effects and color corrected for the final.

The music is a mash-up a DJ friend of ours made for us: The first half is Phish with Galactic featuring Boots Riley and the second half is combination of Of Montreal and Santogold.

After talking to Ghost Robot, we were curious to see what Javan had to say about such beautiful homage:

This is precisely what I mean every time I say “I’d like to see someone try.” Because I do, I love to see what someone else does with it. They’ve taken the idea and applied manpower and a budget to it, and I’m absolutely floored. It looks great. I mean, I’m kinda bummed I wasn’t invited to the party, but I really enjoy seeing what they’ve done.

Great to see sharing being encouraged and celebrated here.

See how the spot was made here.

Big thanks to Keith Endow for the initial tip!

exec. Producer: MARK DE PACE
art director: ANDREW HAMILTON
lead animator: JASMINA MATHIEU
assistant animator: MIKE HEALY
assistant animator: KELLY GOELLER
sound design: ROBIN SHORE
color correction: JEROME THELIA
paper printing: B SQUARED
production coordinator: STINE MOISEN
sterographic assistant: TREVOR TWEETON
stereographic consultant: GREG DINKINS
paper consultant: STEVE VARVARO
paper consultant: ANGEL THOMPSON-GEORGES
rig fabricator: RYAN CHERESNICK
production assistant: ALICE MILLAR


Simon Robson

If Javan pioneered the technique I’d like to know why he wasn’t ‘Invited to the party’?


here here.

Simon Robson

It actually seems like there was genuine correspondence between Ghost Robot and Javan prior to the making of this spot. Question answered…


I wouldn’t go so far as “genuine correspondence.” Elliot shot me an e-mail showing me his work and asking if I ever worked with other directors. I was too busy moving into my crappy new apartment, mopping up raw sewage that flooded into my crappy new apartment and yelling at the crappy landlord of my crappy new apartment. Funny story really, but it ate up my entire summer. I never got a chance to reply to Elliot.


yeah i gotta say that is pretty weak!


Aside from the ethical bummer (can we just push that aside?), the spot literally boggles my mind. I can’t actually comprehend what is happening half the time. Amazing.

ike mink

Interesting issue here. I think I saw a paper technique by the master himself Norman McLaren. He used a lot of parallax and cut-outs and a few of them created a similar optical effect as the above animation. Ivey moved that on in a very modern way. It should be noted that his animation and accompanying making-of film put its stall out by showing the veiwer how to make their own paper animation. Often artist want their idea to take root and form the basis of a new way of making animation and are open about the technique. Using digital tools to make craft based animation in a real world context is what it is all about or just simply designing in a modern way with paper.

Personally I’m not sure if the above animation is plagiarism in the strictest sense. It seems that they’ve just not moved the idea on. It also seems banal to spend so much time on a film of this nature. Maybe they are pulling our leg though. That credit list is bigger than a Psyop commercial. I mean 2 paper consultants?! Get a room.


Here’s what it boils down to.

I put it out there hoping that somebody would pick it up and run with it. If I wanted to secret it away and hide the idea from the world, I would have. As a kid, I was a crappy magician, I always showed how the trick was performed. I’d rather Empower than Enthrall, bonus points if I can accomplish both. Ghost Robot took the technique and ran with it. And proved to me that really gorgeous things can be done with it given a few extra hands.

Admittedly, they could have pushed it further, but there are things you don’t think of until you’re actually in the process of getting your hands on it. Moving Lights, Moving the Rig, the Shape of the rig itself, scale, background, material, frame order… (these are hints to what I want to see next, someone else want to take it on?)

Bottom Line: They worked hard, made a pleasing piece and clearly had a good time doing it. They don’t even need my blessing, but they have it anyway.

The only soreness I’m feeling is from the hard kick in the ass to come up with something new.

Don’t bogArt


Javan: the bottom line is they took something produced independently to make a quick buck. Just like every other ad, they showed the client some stuff thats already been done and had the nerve to say they would copy it. They were getting a budget from the music industry and didnt have the creativity or balls to propose something original.

I know you want to take it lightly but this was so heavily copied you basically deserved at least a credit on the final thing.


Javan, props to you for being diplomatic, understanding, and well, smart.

“I’d rather Empower than Enthrall, bonus points if I can accomplish both.”

You have, and i’ve no doubt this is the first of many things you will create and have copied. Imitation is the best form of flattery. You’ve got vision, it will help shape other’s work, and that’s a really great thing.

“They don’t even need my blessing, but they have it anyway.”

I think this is one of those lines I’m going to remember for a long time. You’re a brilliant artist and and even greater man. That’s the bottom line.


And Ghost Robot- really great work. Absolutely stunning production. Made me want to cough up the cash to go to Bonnaroo- truly effective art. Props for taking something beautiful and turning it into a full-fledged masterwork.


(^) I agree. excellent job with expanding upon Javan’s concept, and turning out a commercially unique and well-flushed out production.


Fantastic concept and execution!!! It`s great to see new, non-digital but highclass approaches to animation other than those cheapish stopmotion clips that popped up in the last few years.

Simon Robson

Because let’s not forget, that anything of creative merit can NOT look cheap, but it must appear to be ‘highclass’, like lots of money has been spent on it. Thanks for that Kalone…


Hello, I worked as the Art Director on this project. This really is an interesting topic to arise. I was brought on the project after the concept had been finalised and was charged with the task of taking this concept I was given further. I apologise in anyway if it seems that I have worked on biting someone elses ideas. Javan my hat goes off to you for the way you have handled this and more so for creating such a great idea to begin with. I want to reaffirm my intentions were honest from the information I was given. I completely understand what it is like to be in your position and it can suck. But I think I can tune into the chorus here and say that the ideas Javan has explored on this concept were great, but also point to the fact that there will be many more ahead.

It was something that I really wanted to work hard to push further, from the testing that I did and the concepts we were intially playing with there is a whole world of opportunity for this concept still ahead. I would love to throw some ideas back and forth about ways we thought of approaching this, just out of interest. Somethings were turning out brains inside out, but deadline prohibited most experiments as always. In the end as I said my intentions were honest and I had no time except to run full force into completing this project. I truly appreciate the concept and working with the team at Ghost Robot we all dedicated a phenomenal amount of energy and time into this project, to continue to realise more of the potential here and create a solid result. We all worked unbelievably hard on this and the dedication to get this done by all members was amazing.


and you guys did a great job. It is evident the time and effort you guys put it.
Also props to javan for putting out what he has but i agree that you guys expanded this and did it well.

Motionographer is full of people that shout plagarism at every chance they get, yet I guarantee you they work on projects that all they do is plagarize. It is inevitable when you work for a motion graphics company.

But this to me is not that, they took a great concept and idea and expanded on it, thats how even better ideas come about.


Yes, really well executed spot by Ghost Robot. Everyone makes a good point here.

But to me the MOST IMPORTANT revelation made here by the post and the discussion that follows it in the comments is that Javan Ives is such an admirable, talented, person. Not often someone like him comes along. Well done, Javan. My best wishes for that next new thing you’ll create out of that amazing headspace of yours.


Also check out another point of view at CartoonBrew..another awesome blog…

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