Rock Out Using An Ancient Animation Technique With A Modern Spin
As my mother always tells me, “when in doubt, go back to basics.” That is exactly what Mate Steinforth and his crew at production and design company, Sehsucht Berlin GmbH & Co, have done to promote the 19th Annual MTV European Music Awards that aired on Novemeber 11th in Frankfurt. Looking towards one of mankind’s oldest forms of animation for inspiration, Sehsucht has put their own technologically-driven creative spin on the project (pun totally intended).
Despite being a promotional video, we here on The Creators Project team have a soft spot for zoetropes – sprinkle in some innovative motion graphics and animation and you get some really interesting eye candy to watch.
The optical illusion you are seeing above comes from what is called we keep referring to as a zoetrope. Essentially, it is a speedy carousel of static images that are brought to life with the help of a stroboscopic light. The blurring of images creates the illusion of motion that has entertained us since around 180 AD. Think of it as a sort of cylindrical flip book. You have probably owned a toy or nightlight of sorts during the good old days of childhood that had included the rapid succession of static images like that. It is interesting how some forms of technology can stick around for millennia in that way.
TCP: What inspired you to use the concept of a zoetrope to promote the EMAs or to work with it in general?
Mate: The briefing from the client MTV was very open on this project. Having worked with them before, they trusted us to take a big part in the creative side of the concept. The briefing contained the words ‘visual overload’, which was our starting point. We developed a series of different ideas in parallel together with the client. One of them was the concept of animation loops, which we all liked a lot. Based on that, we thought “Hey, let’s arrange those loops on a circle, and we’ll have a Zoetrope!” – That’s how we came up with that part of the concept.
TCP: Have you ever worked on any projects using a zoetrope or similar technology?
Mate: Not yet, no. But we’d love to work on more projects like this.
TCP: Did you have any references for this project?
Mate: Yes. We usually work with a lot of references and moods. On this project, two of them we always came back to were the amazing installations the pixar zoetrope and the studio ghibli zoetrope.
TCP: How long did it take you to complete?
Mate: On this project, we worked unusually long, because it consisted of a wide range of deliverables in a sucession of 3 flights of many versions. So we ended working on it for around 6 month, although completing the main section of the project took significantly less time.
Using some of the most modern animation technology, the ancient animation technique continues to live on in the digital era. A tool called Pixologic Sculptris was used to render realistic 3D-designed characters. However, this is a challenging process. Since the zoetrope is a virtual scale model, nothing is faked. In 24 single ‘sculptures,’ the entire loop of motion had to be completed. The storyline of the zoetrope shows a band emerging from humble, basement show roots to ascending to stardom through the horizontal zoetrope layers.
To show the process of dozens of alterations to create a stunning final project, here is the “making of” video:
Stills courtesy of Sehsucht