When Harry Butt (of Butt Studio) was briefed by Warner Music to create an interpretation of Elderbrook’s latest single Capricorn to the theme of “opposites attract” he decided on a process, not a visual, to do so. Created in collaboration with designer, illustrator and animator Nicole Ginelli, the video is split in two: the left half created by Harry and the right by Nicole. The result is a video which truly encapsulates the song’s concept, each side working with and against each other.
Having followed Nicole’s work for a while, Harry knew she had the perfect editorial mindset for a collaborative project.
They began by working to a storyboard created by Harry, mostly showing “the direction of motion in grey blocks, knowing the content would come to life through the abstract explanation of the lyrics and the style,” he explains. “This helped tremendously in allowing the synced scenes to line up and it was very open in terms of how I wanted to interpret it visually,” Nicole adds, “I could design and build out the shapes and visuals as I saw fit, but the timing and movements closely followed the initial storyboard.”
From there, the pair produced a few key scenes, fleshed out the first half and then finally the second half. “there was a lot of back and forth and feedback to each other to update, refine, or bring together certain scenes,” Nicole explains. “In the final stretch we were blending our scenes, responding to each other’s sides or building off of them. At the very end, we were working off the same file, dialling in the overall aesthetic. Harry’s in London and I’m in New York so it was really neat to work so closely with another animator in this context,” she remarks.
Having initially envisioned making the project blind, “reality hit” when the pair realised they need to produce something coherently animated for a commercial project such as this. “This meant we were throwing across project files to each other and keeping each other in sync with our work,” Harry explains.
The result is a uniquely collaborative project, with beautiful interactions occurring where the two “pieces” collide; a visually succinct yet different video at the same time.
Although neither had ever worked in this way before, the process proved a success. “It was refreshing,” Harry tells us, “there were no real wrong design choices, as each side was open to be what it wanted.” As well as producing interesting and unexpected visual results, the strength of this process lies in its conceptual alignment to the song’s lyrics. “Towards the end,” Nicole comments, “I realised how meta the whole thing was, since our process and visuals would respond to one another in ways that eerily fit our interpretation of the song. I was definitely living in the world of Capricorn for those two weeks!”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.