Early last year, my band No Promises recorded a couple songs with the brilliant Rafter Roberts at Singing Serpent Studios in San Diego. We have a song called “Politics” that, I think, showcases our energy and singer Kipling Mitchell’s knack for songwriting (plus I get to do a drum solo).
As the 2016 presidential election began heating up last year, I noted an increasing (and exhausting) vitriol in my social media feeds. It’s been so bad that I’ve pretty much lost interest in who becomes the next president. I decided that whenever I felt compelled to post anything denigrating/accusatory on social media, I’d focus that energy on something constructive—making a video for “Politics” seemed as good of outlet as any.
I’m not an animator by any means, but I’ve dabbled in choppy Python/South Park-style animation before. Here’s a video that I made a couple years ago called “If Cats Directed Tuna Commercials” that showcases the style I wanted for “Politics.”
“Cats” is a little over a minute long, and essentially maybe 7 or 8 scenes of animation, which, at the time, took me about two weeks to complete. The challenge with “Politics” was to be able to sustain that style for over three minutes, but with enough scenes/cuts to match the frantic energy of the song.
The result ended up taking close to six months. There are over 200 moving pieces in the video. It’s by far the most involved video I’ve ever created.
Like I said, I’m no animator, but I know my way around the Adobe Cloud. The style here was created with Photoshop and Premier—a mixture of stop motion and video motion.
Let’s take a look at when Obama kicks a King Baby Trump’s head off. Here are a few of the images I had to create in Photoshop:
When cut down to single frames and placed together in Premier, Baby King Trump like he’s kind of, like, gesticulating madly.
It’s the Video Motion capabilities of Premier that give everything the smooth motion. It’s really a beautiful function and once you play around with it, you realize how much you can do.
Here’s what my Premier timeline looks like at that decapitation:
Video motion (circled in green) allows you to control position of an object on the screen and the scale at which it appears. And, and! it allows you to keyframe these movements (circled in red). The above example shows the motion of Trump’s head as it moves from the point of impact up into the upper right hand corner. The keyframed scale gives it the impression that it’s flying toward us.
Every stop motion video is going to take time. Manipulating single frames is time-consuming, and there were many points when I would align the clips and then realize I was missing an essential movement. Sigh. Back to Photoshop.
All the images are from Google Image Search. I did not create anything for this video—everything’s found on the Internet. This was a little bit of a problem when I had to find unconventional things like, “Business man in fetal position, cradling skeleton” or “Obama riding drone.”
This project also made me realize the whiteness of Google Image Search. I can’t tell you how something as innocuous like “businessman shaking hands” turns up only white results.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to make and I hope you enjoy it.