Aniboom and Radiohead Interview with Ron Doucet

In 2006, Mike White and Ron Doucet, who both work at Collideascope Digital Productions in Halifax, found themselves with a small window between projects and an opportunity to create an animated music video for the Toronto-based band MSTRKRFT. Aniboom/Radiohead Music Video Interview Series, Ron Doucet answered a few questions about the production.

AARON SIMPSON: How did you guys end up partnering with MSTRKRFT on the Work on You music video?

RON DOUCET: Mike and I were between projects, working in the same studio. The timing was perfect, since an upcoming series wasn’t starting up for a couple months, so as one project fizzled out, another ramped up. Beyond that, we had access to our best designers and animators to do this quick gig. Mike hadn’t directed before, so he asked me to come on board to assist him in planning, setting up and eventually adding some FX animation.

AARON: Let’s watch the results of this “quick gig”:

AARON: What was your process for dreaming up the video?

Derek Jessome simply started to draw out thumbnails.

AARON: How important is it to keep the animation aligned with the rhythm of the music?

RON: Very important. In fact, at one point we were lining up all the rendered rough character animation into the master file to lay it out with the music and suddenly scenes weren’t lining up with the animatic’s timing. There was a day of panic as Mike couldn’t figure out where we had gone wrong. Was it a frame rate issue? Render settings? We couldn’t figure it out. Eventually Mike just systematically went second by second and tracked down the missing frames that caused the sync to go off.

AARON: Song lyrics can often be suggestive or downright abstract. Do you feel the need to tell a literal story with your animation?

Interstella 5555 with most of the video being done as a flashback. At the storyboarding stage it was all about hitting the marks in the music and making the story flow, setting the mood, matching the pace of the visuals to the music.

AARON: How do you break up your process within the software – animatic, rough animation, final?

RON: Rough character and BG layouts were all hashed out on paper. Dave Sourwine did some rough color comps in Photoshop to help nail down the mood and color palette of the locations. Mike, Jeff, and Derek would sketch out background thumbnails and then finally create the bigger and cleaner backgrounds on paper. Then Dave would flesh it all out digitally – painting the final BGs with Painter/Photoshop with the boards as reference.

Chad Boutilier had spent a lot of time creating the final model sheets with Mike and Derek looming over his shoulder. He put a great deal of work into the color scheme of the characters and playing around with the line to give the very clean robot design a shine.

Derek and Jeff sketched out all the posing for each scene, producing the character layouts on paper, scanning them in and importing them into Flash. Once inside Flash, the rough character animators traced over these layouts and then began to breakdown and in-between the animation. Animators had lots of reference poses and expressions drawn up for them and had rough layouts setup in their scenes with the music track for each scene cut on their timeline to hit any beat that needed to be made.

Jacques Daigle and Peter Giffen to add After Effects filters to soften up all of the video’s flashback sequences.

I hope to make an Art of MSTRKRFT blog soon that will show a bit of the progression from design to boards and then to final animation.

AARON: Are there any tricks to producing a music video?

“Making Of” film that was posted here back in 2006.

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