Responses by LAMAR+NIK
Background: Columbia Records sent us the track “All About You” right as lockdown was taking effect across the world. Singer-songwriter Leon Bridges was preparing to release a new album, but the aesthetic of this new album was to be more ’90s R&B and ’70s inspired. With that in mind, Columbia was looking for something organic and hypnotic for the accompanying visuals to the song.
Reasoning: We wanted to make a three-minute music video that could utilize the idle time the coronavirus lockdown provided, but also one that would remain relevant long after the pandemic ended. The main guitar riff throughout the song made us immediately think of a tunnel cycling through multiple colors. We had known we wanted to use stratastencil animation for a project at some point, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for us. It was a project where all we needed was a performance from the artist on a green screen and we could take care of the rest ourselves.
Challenges: The most challenging aspect of creating the music video was cutting out the frames. We cut out 4,500 frames using only X-ACTO knives, a cutting board, and a T-square ruler. At certain points, it felt like we would never get through cutting all the frames out and anxiety would set in. Also, the news of George Floyd’s murder occurred during the middle of the process, which made it hard to keep going as well. We both had to take a break from the project for a bit to participate in the protests. At a certain point, no matter how much we love our art, some things are just more important. Overall, it was a taxing experience, but we are proud of the piece of work we created.
Favorite details: How the color palette for the video turned out. We feel like we struck the right balance in between modern and retro. It always feels great to visualize something in your head and see it come to life in such a tangible way.
Visual influences: We first learned about stratastencil animation after watching Javan Ivey’s short animation, “My Paper Mind.” We’ve been fans of the technique for some time, but we knew that if we were going use it, we’d need to advance the medium forward. So, for our video, we pushed the limits of the format by using video footage that was captured at 24 frames per second resulting in 4,500 individual frames handcut, set up and then photographed.
Anything new: This was the first project we ever directed remotely and we learned a lot. For Leon’s performance, we drove down to his house in Fort Worth, Texas, and set up a simple green screen in his garage. But for the featured artist, Lucky Daye, we had a crew do a similar setup in Los Angeles so we could have both performances included in the video. As weird as it was to direct over FaceTime, the results were pretty much the same, but we do look forward to being on set again, in person, hopefully sooner rather than later.