“The Stranger in Our Pictures” is a music video I produced for Hail The Sun through Equal Vision Records. I’ve been working with Hail The Sun through my entire freelance career & our professional relationship is at a point where they trust me to take the reins on creative conceptualization. From the moment I watched Donovan (singer/drummer) track the vocals at Beau Burchell’s old studio, I knew I wanted to do this video & I knew I wanted it to be a stop motion animation.
Hearing Donovan sing of his past struggles, I was instantly reminded of my own. Listening to “Stranger” immediately brought me to a place in surrealism where photos of my past self morphed unrecognizably before me. Maintaining this motif, most of the scenes are stop motion & hint at the idea of a moving scrapbook. To further fortify the illusion, I animated hands interracting with the photographs while they move. I realized early in pre-production that in order to avoid subjecting anyone else to the tedious nature of stop motion animation, the hands in the video would have to be my own.
I wanted to emphasize the stop motion effect, so I cut animated scenes at 6 frames per second. I placed 4k video footage (shot on a Blackmagic Ursa Mini & graded in Resolve) on a 24fps timeline & printed out every fourth frame twice; once on 4x6 matte photo paper (thanks, Costco!) & once on computer paper through a black & white laser printer.
With an X-acto knife, I then cut myself out of every black & white photo before pasting the cutouts onto the photo paper.
The actual animation frames were captured in Dragonframe while utilizing other props/animation techniques. These frames went through a second round of color grading in Adobe Lightroom before returning to Premiere Pro.
I used Premiere to stitch the animation frames together on top of the music, concluding the execution of “The Stranger in Our Pictures” after three weeks of consecutive 18-hour work days.
This music video production was by far my most ambitious, but I am easily the most satisfied by the outcome. I’ve always loved stop motion animation, but I’ve never attempted out at this scale before. Stop motion is certainly a field I’ll be returning to in regards to both fimmaking & general multi-media content creation.
A few things I’ve learned in the process:
You don’t need to grip an X-acto knife as tightly as you might think
The Office series finale will make me cry
Best Buy will stop allowing you to return items after a certain number of transactions