Jeremy Messersmith - A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard

Check out my animated music video for Jeremy Messersmith's song 'A Girl,  A Boy, and a Graveyard' off his latest full length album 'The Reluctant Graveyard'.  I shot the whole thing in the traditional shadow animation style.  After the video you can read my making of.
You can find more of Jeremy's fantastic music from his site here: www.jeremymessersmith.com
Now on to the show!
Ever since I saw Lotte Reineger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed, I knew I had to try my hand at shadow animation. Fortunately, Jeremy supported the idea right away. Shadow animation can be quite difficult, in the sense that you have very little idea what your scenes are going to look like until you put a light under them. I bought a large amount of various colored tissue papers and began experimenting.

I was super pleased with the results of the test and set to work on fleshing out the various environments and props I would be using in the video. I tried to force myself to limit my color palette to fit the song, rather than going completely color crazy. Working with the tissue paper proved to be a daunting task. It's a frustrating process trying to cut shapes from the tissue paper, since the scissors and xacto knife always tended to tear the paper in unwanted ways. I tackled this problem by gluing sheets of tissue paper to clear plastic vellum, which made the cut out process far less tedious.
My setup was incredibly minimal basically consisting of a little glass coffee table I have with some lamps shining underneath. On top of the table I placed my tissued backgrounds and put a piece of glass from a large frame over that to keep them in place. All the moveable elements went on top of this glass piece, which ended up working extremely well. In fact, I would say it was easier to animate this way than my usual paper on paper style.
In terms of the theme of the video itself, I chose to stick close to the narrative of the song, but wanted to add in a bit of a fairy tale flair to it. Originally I planned the have human characters in the story and go for a more realistic approach, but decided to use animals instead. For some reason I prefer animating creatures other than human. I saw the main characters as almost echoing the story of little red riding hood, but only in the most basic of senses. Shadow animation has traditionally been used in a ton of fairy tale animation, made famous by the pioneer of the technique, Lotte Reineger. I wish she was still around to critique my efforts.