Dublin-based All City Records entered a lot of new radar screens with a series of 10" records called the LA Series, which paired up-and-coming artists from the West Coast beat scene—simple idea, astonishing results. A few duos that made noise on that collection are Tokimonsta/Mike Gao, Free The Robots/Exile, and Daedelus/Teebs. Whoever picked the pairs certainly had a knack for perfect coupling.
Beyond those novel duets, the label has released music by the best and brightest of beat music on an ongoing bases. Most recently, All City dropped their second 45 from London DJ and producer Om Unit. The LA Refixes 45 features his collabs with Daedelus and Om’mas Keith, one third of LA hip hop-group Sa Ra. To create a visual component for the Keith track, All City enlisted the help of motion graphics animator Donovan Delaney, who interpreted the R&B-esque track with a planetary battle between the Earth and Mars. That might conjure images of spaceship convoys and laser fire, but this is far more akin to the kind of schoolgirl beef that keeps reality television interesting. Unusual sci-fi? Yes.
We asked Delaney a few questions about the story of cosmic beef set to the soundtrack of Om and Om’mas to find out where his head was at.
The Creators Project: How did you conceive of the fictional solar system in the video? Does it relate to the track?
Donovan Delaney: Well, when I first got the track, Olan (All City Records) had said he was looking for something to do with motorways to relate to the release’s art. After one or two tech concepts such as evolving motorways of light, etc., I settled on the idea of a working mini earth that all of the transit systems went around. That way I could incorporate all manner of things and it could still be a “one take” video, which was what I wanted to do from the beginning.
Mars was introduced into the video because of the repeated line “that girl’s a playa playa.” The whole idea is that Mars is annoyed and jealous of the earth for evolving life, hence “playa.” There were ideas floating back and forth in my mind to make this relationship more instantly understandable, but my time was very limited, working full-time already as a motion graphics animator. I’m also a geek of astronomy, so making space things is fun for me, even if they are wildly inaccurate!
What did you use to create the video?
In my job and in my fun projects like this, I use two programs mainly, these being Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects. Cinema 4D I’ve been self-taught in for about three years now, and Adobe After Effects about nine.
Cinema 4D is the root program in all of this, but both are equally important. Cinema 4D is the 3D application I use to create the 3D world, models, lighting, camera movement, and textures. After building a bunch of spheres and orbits in Cinema 4D, I then made my colonies and on it went until it was a six-day long render to be introduced to After Effects.
After Effects is a 2D animation software that is used the world over for motion graphics. I used this to add things like a glow, the sun’s texture, Mars’ katakana subtitles, the Dark Side of the Moon reference, not to mention the clouds and the general polish of the video. After all of this was done, it took two days to render it out at full quality HD.
All of this was done on my best ever investment, my 8-Core Xeon Mac Pro. It’s four years old and still the best computer I’ve ever owned!
When the text appears on the screen, does that say “Playa Playa” in katakana?
I wish in the final stages of the video I had the effort to go through and actually do it right! But the definite confession of this video is that the language Mars speaks is completely arbitrary letters from a nice font! But then again, who am I to say Mars would say something in any earth language? So really when you think about it, it’s a declaration of planetary cultural sovereignty (if that even makes sense)… Yeah, thats exactly what I was going for!
Any influences that inspired the look of this video?
I like the looks of lots of different things, but I really have to take my hat off and say I very much love Brainfeeder designer and video killer Beeple. It was Beeple doing his day to days that really inspired me to pick up 3D and really use it as my own thing in which I had no excuses to not be able make anything I wanted, I just needed to put in the time to learn. I also always wanted to do a very colorful video with more real-ish effects, so it was pretty much a toss up of my own knowledge, a love of Beeple’s colors, and looking at the stars a whole heap while listening to Carl Sagan!
Is this in any way an allegory for the earth’s actual relationship with Mars and the sun?
I think it is in a very small way, but just for fun. I came across the concept a few years back that around three billion years ago, or what not (dont fact check me there!), that Mars was very much like the Earth was and it probably had life evolve on it and all. Who knows, really? I dont want to seem like im programmed to jump to the most fascinating explanation, but what people don’t seem to get is how vast space really is and all you really need to do is run the numbers and have faith in science to really know that there must be something else knocking about, but I digress. If I was Mars and I was a dried up has-been, I’d be pretty pissed of at Earth for being uber cool and having life… even if that life will kill it eventually!