di Massimiliano Manzo, Giorgia Salis e Francesco Strada
The crew on the set for Gotye’s Easy Way Out
Oh yeah wow is an Australian creative house specialized in animation, visual effects and film.
There is no better way to describe who they really are than quoting the artists themselves:
“In a landscape inhabited by sharks creating heartless, derivative content, Oh Yeah Wow sails the boat of freedom on the waves of integrity aided by the delicious North winds of determination. Collectively we pursue magic, excellence, innovation and the occasional intake of vitamin D.”
Stop motion is just one of the technique adopted by this young collective for advertising and music videos. Even if nowadays it is an overused effect, Oh yeah wow is always able to transform and translate this particular style in different creative ways.
We asked some questions about their artworks to the director and animation coordinator Darcy Prendergast. Who has also been involved in feature films like the acclaimed animation Mary and Max.
We particularly focused our interview on the stop motion use and design for some music video clips like Gotye’s “Easy way out” (2011) and The Paper Kites “Young” (2013).
Q: What is usually the creative process you follow as a team when you realise music videos in stop motion? Which is your main source of inspiration and how do you translate the music into images?
DP: For music videos, the medium we predominantly work in- it’s generally a matter of finding a 3 act structure that works in alignment with the tone of the song. Or, in direct contrast. I see and approach music videos as miniature feature films, attempting to take the viewer on a little journey- with surprises along the way to ensure they don’t click off. The creative process usually involves me playing the song on loop for days on end- much to the displeasure of my studio pals.
Q: Do you have some advices to give to young peeps who approach the stop motion animation medium? Which are the most common mistakes to avoid?
DP: There are many pitfalls to be aware of, it’s a tricky medium to start out in- but practice is key. The more you do, the more you are aware of. In my experience: Build everything solid, lock and glue every set piece down, and build yourself a really sturdy, good quality armature. Stop motion is all about laying the groundwork early on…
Q: Which are the fundamental roles that have to be present within a crew in order to achieve the best results?
DP: Our crew is a strange one- we work in a very unorthodox manner, wearing many hats. I’ve in the past, shot some of our stuff- Seamus has been the motion control master- Josh has been our VFX guru, Sam has always been our lead stop mo animator. It changes depending on the project, but I think the one fundamental thing you need is grit. It’s by no means an easy industry- and ensuring you’re always producing cutting edge work- thats completed to the best of your ability is paramount.
The making of Easy Way Out
Q: Stop motion animations are becoming wide spread across the web, but among them some emerge because they have something special. What is this “something” that makes the video not ordinary?
DP: I think, for me personally, it’s the heart and soul that goes in. You can tell when someone has slaved. You feel it on a subconscious level- and you respect that and feel more inclined to share it. So often in this day and age, people take the easy road- and because of this- we’re completely floored when things of beauty and determination cross our path.
Q: When making music videos, timing rhythm is very important. For example in The Paper Kites’ Young music video how did you approach to this problem?
DP: It’s always been more a blessing for me. Half the battle is simply tying in with beats- once you’ve done that, the music video, even if you’re cutting the most random disparate footage- seems bound in one way or another. For Paper Kites, I chose to block out sections with little highlights, but ultimately its about finding a balance between song and visual. they both have to work symbiotically.
Q: Of the videos you realised to which one are you more attached and why?
DP: I love Paper Kites- I’ll always be proud of that outcome- but more recently, Hudson and Troop, in which I played a chain smoking Monster who uses sign language to communicate the lyrics of the song. It’s especially special to me, as I had to learn all the hand signs- and I had Seamus (my Oh Yeah Wow co pilot in my ear telling me I couldn’t do it. He should know by now this only strengthens my resolve…