Monday, 25 March 2013

Animated Music Videos

Another popular style of music video is using animation techniques Some use cartoon animation, some use stop motion animation and others use digital animation. Sometimes the artist is represented performing in animated form and other times there is a narrative featured using animation.

My students and I are looking at different style of music videos and we have already looked at a couple of different music genres, and as-live or in concert music videos so far.

Animated music videos can often be very eye-catching and allow the impossible to be achieved. Cartoon animation can range from the simplistic child-like drawings of the music video for Nizlopi’s JCB song to the anime style of Linkin Park’s Breaking The Habit. If the artist is performing in animated style, then lip synching can still be included. In the case of the Linkin Park music video, this was achieved by filming the band’s performance and then rotoscoping it. This is where animators use the real footage as the basis for their animation. Take on Me famously mixed live action with cartoon animation.

Stop motion animated music videos are still very popular despite the increase of digital animation. They allow very imaginative ideas to be brought to life. Stop motion is the process of taking many still images and putting them together to create the impression of a moving image. It can make lip synching difficult but many stop motion music videos have achieved it. Plan B’s video for No Good took seven days to shoot on a stills camera and is particularly creative for its use of lip synching.  This ‘was achieved by Levi shooting Plan B performing the track on a DV camera, then output the footage at 12 frames per second and printed a book of all 2,800 frames, which became their lip-synch bible. “Every frame we shot we showed him the relevant page of the book and he mimicked the shape of his mouth on that page for the shot,” says Daniel.’’’ (

Other examples include Oren Levi and Her Morning Elegance, early example Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel and Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing.

Finally digital animation is the most recent form of animation to be used in music videos. It is the same principal as other forms of animation with fluid motion being created frame by frame but now on computers. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers use digital animation for their video for Californication to make it look like a video game.

As always there are many more examples out there and I would be very grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of any better examples of animated videos and perhaps I can add them to this post.

More in this series on the styles, conventions and techniques of music videos: