“The concept for the video began with the idea of a character who falls off the edge of the world,” says creative studio Art Camp, Saad Moosajee and Danaé Gosset, the creators of the Mitski’s (who released Pitchfork’s top album of 2018) latest video A Pearl. The video, a cascading animation of intricately illustrated moments, does exactly that.
Made at Art Camp in collaboration with Saad Moosajee and Danaé Gosset, A Pearl is made using numerous types of 3D animation software. First finalising a digital version, the team then printed 1480 frames using inkjet printers to then be painted, drawn and illustrated on top of, utilising traditional animation techniques. These were then scanned back into the computer and sequenced into a short displaying the benefits of using an amalgamation of animation skills. Both the narrative and tools used were discussed at length from the very beginning, crafting a world by assessing “the impossibility afforded by CG cameras with the aesthetic of hand-drawn animation to try and create an interesting distortion of animated styles.”
Consequently, on first viewing, you’ll find yourself asking how on earth A Pearl was made. As the main character runs and eventually falls “through a series of abstract elements and shapes” in time with the cues and drops in the music, a narrative becomes clear. “After spending more time with the lyrics for A Pearl, and becoming more familiar with Mitski’s intentions in the songwriting, we shifted the narrative of the fall to a more metaphorically driven approach,” Saad Moosajee from the team tells It’s Nice That.
The team was inspired by a quote from the musician herself about the ups and downs in any relationship which states: “Even though you’re in this great relationship with somebody who loves you and wants to take care of you, you still don’t talk to them about what’s toxic in you. You just roll around this pearl in your hand every night and just look at it, like it’s a pretty thing.” From here, they began to design scenes, environments and character movement that express such personal, intrinsic feelings. This expanded to the colour palette and pacing of A Pearl too, drawing inspiration “from our own romantic experiences and relationships to create a visual accompaniment that would not only be pleasing to watch but would also move its viewers the way Mitski’s music does.”
This thoughtful approach, which leads us to imagine the team sitting around reminiscing about old relationships, was then used to lay the foundations in creating a romanticised animation that avoids appearing twee. Using their own experiences to inspire particular elements such as A Pearl’s gentle shading, pushing “more detail into the colouring, lighting and rendering of both mediums in an effort to achieve animations that felt like ‘moving paintings’.”
However once these contemplative creative decisions were made, the team then had to mix a “simulated 3D animation into paintings and drawings”. By using simulated animation, the team further extended the surrealist touch that runs through the video, as well as a slight “surprise to the behaviour of the world we had created,” they say. “Ultimately, we hoped to create something that Mitski, her fans, and anyone interested in watching would find beautiful, musical and meaningful.”
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.