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Music Videos

“Mexican Standoff” by Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton music video

Bill Plympton just wrapped a new music video for Dutch musician Parson Brown. The video, “Mexican Standoff (Falling Into You)”, intercuts Plympton’s monochromatic animated scenes with live-action of the singer. Animation credits for the vid here.

  • Awesome!!

    Really love the colors… or the absence of colors, rather.

    And I love watching Plymptons Ani-cam too – he animates like a house on fire (of course it’s fast-forwarded, but still).

    Can’t wait for his next feature.

  • Christopher

    Plympton is just so superb it’s awe-inspiring!!!

    I watched it without sound and noticed how great the animation is and how completely ridiculous the live-action babe looks gyrating without a soundtrack. How many close-ups of the singers eyes can you count?

  • kevin

    amazing animation. good job bill

  • The part near the end where the chick lands on the horse and it takes off is amazing.

    The level of shading is really good too, a level not consistent throughout
    all of plympton’s work.

  • Plymton does it again. I would love to work with him someday. Or, at the very least, watch him work.

  • Joe Smalls

    I love some of Plympton’s older work, but I feel like his recent animations–particularly his work on music videos and with the exception of “Guide Dog” (a sequal whose jokes succeed far more than that of its predecessor)–has been fairly overrated. The emperor has no clothes…he used to have some clothes…and occasionally he still puts them on…but he doesn’t always wear them, so…y’know…just pay close attention and feel free to point out when he is naked. Like in this video. This is a case where the emperor is naked.

  • david

    The part after the guy pulls out the woman’s heart and the camera zooms in on him kinda bothers me, because the rest of the background is still moving but the character just freezes, when it should have probably been like a 2 or 3 drawing cycle

  • It’s so cool to see something I actually worked on end up on the Brew. Cheers!

  • John

    I gotta agree with Joe Smalls. I LOVE LOVE LOVE his early work, but Plympton has been vastly over-rated for about 15 years now. It really pains me to say it, because the fact that he makes his own feature length toons is such a great thing, but I have to admit that they’re so bad I haven’t made it all the way through viewing a single one. And IMHO this music video is pretty darn terrible.

  • What the hell, you buzzkills? Whats so terrible about the animation here? Sure you’re entitled to your opinion, but it’s pretty arrogant to assume that because something isn’t your cup of tea, it is obviously of low quality. At least try back up your criticisms.

  • Joe Smalls

    Chris, here’s the thing…Plympton has a few nice moments within this piece, and as I said before, I like his early work. But I think the tone, pacing, and incongruity of his “style” (with the live action) ruins this video. It is definitely a step up from the video he dashed off for Kanye West, and yet it seems to have been executed without much real thought put into style, timing, and medium, much less the tone set by the music. I’m not saying that Plympton doesn’t have it in him to do great work–but I think he gets too much credit. Artists and critics generally seem to be willing to give him a pass–even when his work is slap-dash (like his recent music videos)–because he’s BILL PLYMPTON. While his prolificness deserves praise, if he would slow down and take the time to really make smart decisions before executing his projects, he would likely make better (albeit less) animated pieces.

  • John

    People’s love and nostalgia for Plympton outweighs their judgement on his current efforts. If this music video had some student animator’s name attached I don’t think people would give it a second thought. His cartoons just feel tired. He has never really sought to reinvent himself or try anything different. It’s always the same gags, the same “extreme” camera angles, the same heavily cycled animation moving in 6’s or 7’s. When he came to talk at my school, it was mostly about how to get rich and famous with your work. He made no secret about his willingness to toss off subpar commercials and videos to make a quick buck. He’s an incredibly clever self-marketer and businessman but like John K I don’t think he’s been relevant artistically since the early 1990s.

  • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the animation. There’s a lot of cool gags and fun designs in there. I just don’t think this works as a music video. There’s just something about the song and the cutting back and forth between the animation and live action segments. It feels like two seperate things. Whenever it cuts to the animation, I feel like we’re going to something else entirely. I don’t feel the connection with the song and the video as a whole.

  • Well, at least he hasn’t started drawing all his characters with heavy mascara.

    It’s pointless to analyze him on the basis of this work-for-hire that’s getting cut into someone else’s video. I suspect they came to him, pointed to one of his previous works and said “we want something just like that.” They got it.

    And it wouldn’t make sense for him to pour all his creative energy into someone else’s promotional vehicle. Better to put his energy into something he can call all his own.

  • Joe Smalls

    Robcat makes a good point–however, there is nothing, in all his many films that he calls “all his own” that would suggest he is even capable of making something different.

  • red pill junkie

    I agree with Mike Caracappa and robcat2075, the final video seems like two totally different elements with nothing in common poorly glued together.

    The animation by Plympton is really interesting, though.

  • Basil

    Not sure if many of you know how work for hire ‘works’ but, give any old joe animator a week to do something, very little money, and never show him once what the (terrible) live action video will look like, when HIS personal films are premiering in less than a month and still completely independent works in progress (check out his website and keep up with the stuff before you judge) and see if that any old joe animator could do something so well under that much pressure. I agree, we all get tired of redundancy of artists/animators these days, but seriously, try to see it from all angles. The work that comes out of him under such restraints is impressive in itself. Your opinions of his personal work are different stories and must be kept as such.

  • John

    That’s true Basil, but I think the point is if you’re an old joe animator and you know these low budget work-for-hire projects are going to A: not be very good because of time constraints, and B: distract from and water down your own personal work, you should just say “no”. Plympton seems to have an inability to say “no” to any project thrown in his direction. That makes his entire output suffer because he’s turned into a machine. His personal work has lost focus. Plympton prides himself in how fast he works and how many projects he churns out a year, but for once I’d like to see him take his sweet time with something and really invest something personal in it.

  • Both sides make valid points here. I think Bill’s in a bit of a catch-22 because he takes on jobs that may not have great artistic merit so that he can fund the projects that he personally believes in, like his feature Idiots and Angels which I’m very much looking forward to.

    The problem is though that he can’t ask audiences to be judged only for specific projects. An artist is judged for their entire body of work, and the viewing audience doesn’t know the political details (like budgets and schedules) that may have caused one project to be weaker than another. They can only see the finished product.

    Taking on every gig that comes his way is a survival technique that has made Plympton a successful independent for decades, something that not many others can lay claim to in animation. However, it has also undeniably diluted the “Plympton brand” to some extent, and that can spell disaster for an indie where the brand is your name and style.

    Being independent and freelance myself, I can certainly empathize with Plympton’s situation. I personally turn down far more jobs than I accept because either A.) the project is not up to my standards, or B.) I don’t have the time to devote to it to ensure a quality product. And when you turn down projects as frequently as I do, it certainly doesn’t make life any easier.

  • gingersoll

    All that matters to me is if his next feature length film is good. Couldn’t care less about some music video he did to pay the rent, and frankly, it couldn’t better or worsen my opinion of his work. What matters to me is the main dish–the only matter of importance is the film while it is running on screen, everything else is politics, ego, and distraction.

  • Joe Smalls

    I too work in the industry and as I have taken on work just to pay the bills, I understand that my name will be attached to whatever work I do. Therefore I do the best work that I can. Amid makes a totally valid point about not knowing the many excuses that projects ultimately fall short–budget, schedule, client difficulty, or even how flexible a client is with their own (often foolish) aesthetic demands–as it is also fair to assume that he never saw the live action footage. We’ve all been through these frustrations and justifications.

    But ultimately the work is out in the world for our consumption and reaction.

    And, while I am willing to acknowledge the various excuses that he may have for (what is for me) a very mediocre music video, I think it is also valid to recognize that: if this weren’t bill plympton, it wouldn’t be getting much recognition…and I would be surprised if so many people would be jumping to its defense.

    Also, we’re sort of misrepresenting Plympton here, aren’t we? Doesn’t he have a studio of people that do work under his “brand”? If so, how should that be factored into your assessment of him and his work–if at all?

    I’d be curious to hear people’s thoughts–even if they are, as gingersoll seems to think, just politics, ego, and distraction.

  • If Bill Plympton animation had saturated our culture as much as say, Hanna-Barbera animation had, you might complain that we had seen too much of this style.

    But his total output is really rather small and he’s the only one doing this style. It isn’t like he’s been hugely influential. Let him continue to explore this island he has carved out.

    To the public at large his animation is completely novel because they just haven’t had much exposure to it. I bet you could find more people who could identify Carrot Top or Nicole Ritchie than identify Bill Plympton and neither of them is ever going to be nominated for an Oscar.

  • robcat says: “It isn’t like he’s been hugely influential.”

    There are many great Plympton films and if he hasn’t been influential, that’s a mark against the rest of us.

    Say what you want about this video, Bill’s done some wild stuff in his day. When I first got going on my own stuff it was really his work, Frederic Back’s work, and Chris Conforti’s “Frog” that made me think camera movement and camera angle should be central to my films. So that’s one person, and I’m sure there’s more.

  • The idea that he has a full studio of people is, I think, false. He may have folks who scan, clean up, and color some of his work, but from what I understand, he draws absolutely everything himself.

    Also I disagree with those who think he will be judged by his entire body of work. I never heard of this singer and would never have seen this video if I wasn’t actively searching for Plympton works. I still haven’t seen the Kanye video. I probably haven’t seen but one or two of his commercials. Even if he does a mediocre job on such, which I seriously doubt, it wouldn’t affect my opinion of his work.

  • javier

    Who is the girl? She just seems to me really beatiful, and the video also is really cool!