Chasing Birds Chasing Birds

Music video for Foo Fighters’ “Chasing Birds.”

Directed by Emlyn Davies for Bomper Studio, Wales, 2021.

Tools: Zbrush (character sculpts), Cinema 4D (rigging, animation, modeling, texturing), Arnold (rendering)

Project description from Bomper Studio:

After working on the music video for “No Son of Mine,” RCA approached Bomper Studio looking for a whimsical film for the dreamy and immersive track “Chasing Birds.” Described as “weird and mellow” by keyboardist Rami Jaffee, the initial brief was to explore motifs within the song through taking the band on a psychedelic, technicolor journey; reminiscent of The Beatles Yellow Submarine. The production took place from February-April 2021. Director Emlyn Davies and co-director Josh Hicks worked to develop a story set within a colorful utopia which devolves into a nightmarish hellscape; filled to the brim with trippy imagery and animation. The chosen setting was a landscape reminiscent of the Sonoran desert; often chosen as a shorthand in narratives of existential isolation, where characters can lose themselves mentally, at the mercy of the elements. What begins as a barren and uninterrupted landscape, also offered the team a blank screen onto which they could project their fantasies. Taking everything you would usually see, and turning it on it’s head.

Being huge fans of psychedelic art from the 1960s, Bomper leaned into that as a starting point for the style through flat colors, bold outlines, distinct shapes. The team also looked to incorporate further whimsical styles from the designs of Victor Moscoso and Peter Max – richly saturated colors in glaring contrast, swirling patterns, repetition and surrealism.

For the characters, achieving likeness within the style was key, without pushing towards caricature. For this, the team looked to celebrity animation from the 1970s, such as Hanna-Barbera cartoons; in particular, episodes of Scooby Doo that included guest appearances which fit within the world. Taking learnings from their work with Colonel Tony Moore on Tyler Childers’ “Country Squire,” Bomper employed a technique called “Chicken Fat Storytelling,” packing shots with in-jokes to make viewing more enjoyable and rewarding. Fans might notice callbacks to Foo Fighters’ past work such as “Everlong,” “Monkey Wrench,” “Pretender” and “DOA.”

To really push the psychedelic and experimental motif, Bomper employed a series of techniques used as cutaways and vignettes to the larger composition. This included face and body deforms to create otherworldly characters and illusions, trailing effects, lip syncing in unexpected places and abstract liquid effects. The film plays with scale, eye-popping hues, and the cartoon form through animation that squashes, stretches and breaks throughout; ultimately delivering a tripped-out film drawn straight from the subconscious.

Credits
Animation Director: Emlyn Davies
Animation Co-Director: Josh Hicks
Producer: Nicholas Robespierre, Robyn Viney
Technical director: Colin Wood
Lead character artist: Eder Carfagnini
Character artists: Mark Proctor, Francis Ogunyanwo
3d artists: Emlyn Davies, Colin Wood, Rhodri Teifi, Zach F Evans, Josh Hicks, Mark Proctor, Craig Rothwell, Phil Highfield
Fx artists: Colin Wood, Zach F Evans
Lighting: Emlyn Davies, Colin Wood, Rhodri Teifi, Zach F Evans
Lead 3d animator: Alan Towndrow
3d animators: Alex Watson, Mervenur Ulcan, Joanna Adamska, Beáta Ujj, Jesiel Almeida, Brian Martinez, Sebastian Pfeifer
Rigging: Alan Towndrow, Gene Magtoto, Dan Dan Kang
Texture artists: Colin Wood, Rhodri Teifi, Zach F Evans
Character concepts: Josh Hicks, Guillaume Poitel
Storyboards: Josh Hicks, Mark Proctor
Compositing: Rhodri Teifi, Zach F Evans, Sebastian Pfeifer
Editing: Josh Hicks

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