Tuesday, June 25

Student animates fantasy world

The "Dead All Along" music video features Giles Timms' hand-drawn images moving to a beat

Above is a scene from a new music video titled "Dead All Along," animated by graduate student Giles Timms. The video depicts the story of Yorick, a boy who travels to a dark fairy world.

Above is a scene from a new music video titled "Dead All Along," animated by graduate student Giles Timms. The video depicts the story of Yorick, a boy who travels to a dark fairy world. Courtesy of Giles Timms

There are few among us who can find inspiration in grotesque cartoons that depict death, yet to some a certain beauty lingers in that timelessness.

In his new music video “Dead All Along,” animation graduate student Giles Timms turns death into a new realm of cartoon life.

The video, Timms’ thesis film, depicts a young boy named Yorick following a fairy into another land. Yorick desires to return to his parents, but upon his return, he discovers much more time has passed in his home than had in the fairy world, and his parents are now dead.

The dark theme is supported by the animation Timms uses, matching both the eclecticism and gothic feel of the music-story combination.

Inspired by artists and comic book illustrators like Edward Gorey, Yuri Norstein, Mike Mignola, and Ashley Wood. Timms said he wanted to create a world that contained some of their same elements.

“It sort of follows this early Victorian theme and style of (Gorey’s) work,” Timms said. “There’s an initial stage when you first start a project like this where you have an idea of what you want, but until you actually put something together it’s in that amorphous area where it’s not fully realized. First you have the characters, then you have the world, then you put those two things together, and that’s the exciting part.”

While for Timms creating the video was enjoyable, combining all of the elements required much time and tact.

“Dead All Along,” though only one minute and fifty seconds long, had been in the works since May.

Timms used an animation style called cut-out, which involves each separate body part of the characters ““ legs, hands, heads and more ““ being cut from a piece of paper and moved separately.

Although he could have created the entire video with computers, he preferred to draw all the individual pieces out by hand.

“It gets my creative juices flowing when I’m working with pen and paper, and I like my work to have that handmade quality,” Timms said.

Although most of the production was done by Timms himself, he had input from peers and professors to help him along the way.

Bill Barminski, professor in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, advised Timms on animation techniques.

“It’s definitely different from 3-D animation where you’re getting CGI effects, where everything can look very similar because a computer is generating all of the graphics,” Barminski said.

“This one looks unique because you can definitely see the hand of the artist who drew the artwork. You can see the pencil sketching, the ink drawing, and that’s what’s being animated and that’s what I like about it. It gives it more of a homespun quality to it,” he added.

After filming all of the animation, Timms edited it all together much as one would edit a live action film, keeping in mind the song to which he was aligning it.

“I like working with music because I listen to the beat. It means I always have a structure to go back to make sure my animation is structured within the song, within the beat, within the rhythm,” Timms said. “When I animated the characters when they walked, I made sure their footsteps fell on that beat. Any actions ““ running, walking, blinking ““ all fell on that main beat.”

Ceri Frost, the artist whose music is featured in the video, found the animation and story line a good representation of his song.

“The video complements the music perfectly with regard to style, texture and pace. The monochrome technique lends a certain feeling of timelessness to the song, and the introduction of the colorful fairy world supports the notion of other-worldliness, the main theme of “˜Dead All Along,’” Frost said.

“Animated music videos are of course ten a penny in the entertainment industry, but not many succeed in squeezing a story of such epic proportions into a two-minute pop song. Apart from the song’s lyrical content, the story replaces narrative with the subtle use of symbols and gestures alone.”

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