Frances Chang has released an animated music video for her song “Eye Land,” described by the singer as a “slacker-prog odyssey.”
Not only does Chang perform in the video, but she also helped animate alongside artist Robert Calzone (real name Will Moloney), and experienced indie animator Wendy Cong Zhao. Zhao produced the video and helped teach Calzone, who had never animated his illustrations before, the basics of the craft. That said, according to the trio of artists, each did a bit of everything on the project, and traditional titles like director and producer don’t quite do justice to the DIY nature of production.
Despite the short production window, the video features an elaborate fantasy story that is rewarding and a lot of fun. Movements are limited, but engaging illustrations make good use of recognizable fantasy symbols to create a strong sense of peril felt by the viewer. It’s easy to empathize with the video’s heroine.
After an initial brainstorming session, the three quickly got to work. Chang wrote an outline aligned with the music, and Calzone started drawing storyboards. The two then began drawing frames, with Zhao overseeing production and helping inject animated elements into the otherwise still illustrations.
According to Chang, the instinct to add more movement motivated the team. “I think we all got very inspired to try to bring as much animation to the drawings as possible despite our utter lack of time and limited resources,” she explained.
The main reason that each person was so involved is that the entire video needed to be animated in just a month and a half. Because of the tight turnaround, Zhao said, “We decided on a bare-bones traditional process so [Calzone] could have freedom in drawing and illustrating, then animate some shots organically if they inspired him to add movement.”
Calzone says that time restrictions made for a difficult production window, but that it wasn’t without rewards.
“It was grueling, especially towards the end, trying to get all the drawings done, but I’m happy and grateful for the experience, and by the end, felt like my drawing muscle was in better than normal shape,” he said. “It was fun working on visual art with other people. Frances and I even got together to draw in the same room a few times, something I haven’t really done since like 3rd grade when my friend Dominick and I would draw racecars together in his parent’s kitchen.”
For Zhao, the most experienced animator of the bunch who has worked with the likes of Signe Baumane and Bill Plympton, the DIY nature of the video’s production was inspiring.
“Working on this music video revived my creative spirit because I was working with the very genuine and earnest art from both Will and Frances and their drawings pair so well with the music without any of the fancy animation conventions I was used to,” she explained.
Now that the finished video is out in the world, Chang says, “What I’m proud of is that the video stands on its own as a work of art made by people who are very good at what they do and are true artists, rather than just existing because music videos are supposed to exist for promotional reasons,” she said.