Ask the average 2d animator how much finished film they’d hope to produce in three weeks, and they’ll probably count their answer in seconds. Not Jonathan “JonJon” Ng. The Montreal, Canada-based filmmaker and animator is making a habit of creating entire short films — from pitch to delivery — in this timeframe.

So it was with his latest project, a music video for Kina’s hit track “Get You the Moon (feat. Snøw).” In an accompanying director’s commentary video which he also animated (see above), JonJon delves into his techniques, giving a time-lapse account of the production. In an interview with Cartoon Brew, he expands on how he pulled off such a quick turnaround.

Firstly, he had experience. He’d already animated to very tight deadlines for the likes of musician The Weeknd and newly-crowned NBA championship team Toronto Raptors. “[These clients’] timelines are like warp speed,” he says. Though initially reluctant to go so fast, he found that the pressure pushed him toward a pared-back, semi-improvised style that he liked. “It’s a new way that I love working now.”

Working alone, JonJon forgoes storyboards and pretty much the whole development stage, and dives straight into the animation. As he draws, he gains an intuitive feel for the narrative. He sticks to black and white, which “is flexible and forgiving — you can play with the drawing a lot easier.” The characters are fleshed out in fleet brushstrokes against sparse backgrounds. Everything is done digitally.

For Kina’s video, JonJon conducted research on the young Italian producer, which prompted visual ideas: for instance, the motif of two roses, which was inspired by one of his logos.

JonJon also drew inspiration from the song itself. “The music is almost guiding you, like a dance… There’s so many different ways to go with it, so you flow.” More broadly, JonJon — a keen breakdancer — compares his art to that sport, which “teaches you to experiment.”

The concept of the director’s commentary cropped up during production. “As the project went along, to streamline the feedback process, I invited the recording artist and the label folks to come onto a video call screenshare, so that they could directly give input but also to watch how I work. It was from these moments of witnessing the work in progress that they really got inspired by the way I work and how I was speaking over my drawings. I was showing them little hidden details. That’s when they suggested that maybe I could do a director’s commentary.”

JonJon started by recording his screen while animating, then stringing the footage together and adding a voiceover. The format turned out dull, “like a software tutorial.” A friend suggested he animate the documentary; JonJon took the idea and ran with it, producing the film in eight days. The result is an elegant, informative portrait of a highly original approach to animation.

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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