Animator Inger Bierma on her first year out of uni and visualising a song about sex

When the Hamburg-based animator was approached by Leoni Leoni to create a music video for her new track, Inger faced a new challenge and excitedly took on the directing, animating, clean-up and post-production of the new short.

29 September 2021


After graduating “basically over Zoom” last year, animator Inger Bierma had a strange introduction to the creative industry. “The last year has been interesting and kind of weird at the same time for me,” she tells us, recalling the distant feeling of everything having moved online including her transition from education to working. The Minerva Art Academy graduate featured on last year’s showcase of new talent, introducing our audience to her enigmatic and surreal short, Blanket. Just over a year ago, the Dutch animator astounded us with the technical precision of the brilliantly executed film, displaying a maturity well beyond her years. With a highly distinct colour palette featuring blended pastel tones and contrasting highlights to make the compositions pop, Inger has recently finished a new film, this time round, a music video for the musician Leoni Leoni.

The musical artist approached Inger at the end of last year asking if she was interested in the project. It was one of few jobs that greeted Inger as she ventured into the creative working world which “definitely made me feel a bit more secure as an artist starting out,” she adds. Before she started on any of the visuals, Inger first listened to the whole album. Then, together with Leoni, they decided which track would be best visualised through animation. It was decided that Weirdest Ritual would get the Inger-treatment, a song about sex and “talking about accepting kinks that might originally come from porn but turn you on even though you disagree with lots of things shown in porn.” An example, the animator points out, is: “how can I be a feminist who sometimes likes to be choked by a man?”

Combining this information with some initial visual ideas to accompany the song’s themes, Inger then got to sketching and created some style frames which laid the foundation for the animated short. The beautifully crafted visual language (“that we are both very happy with”) was the product of both collaborator’s input, the result of numerous back and forth conversations. “I wanted to make something very gloomy and subliminal,” adds Inger on the subtlety of the animation. She looked to two of her primary inspirations, Ram Han and Gage Lindsten to inform the atmosphere of the music video; capturing the dreaminess and intense feeling of intoxicated love throughout the painterly frames.


Inger Bierma: Weirdest Ritual (Copyright © Inger Bierma, 2021)

When it came to the technical side of creating Weirdest Ritual, Inger’s process followed a similar path to her graduate film. Completing the direction, animation, clean-up and post-production all by herself, she also incorporated a couple of new tricks learnt on TVPaint which allowed for that signature glow to come about a lot easier. After completing the animatic, Inger ventured onto the clean-up – a part of the production where rough sketches are smoothed out into consistent characterisation for the final film – the longest part of the process for Inger. When the clean-up is finished, she then rendered the PNG sequence and put it into Premiere Pro where the finishing touches were completed.

The final three-and-a-half minute film marks a new venture into a more sensual mood for the animator. It took Inger right out of her comfort zone as it “wasn’t my usual cup of tea,” she points out. That being said, this new “sexy” direction pushed her to make something thematic that she didn’t know she was capable of. In this first music video commission, Inger pushed herself to take full creative control over all aspects of the process; no mean feat for someone fresh out of uni. And although she thought it was scary at first, Inger finally goes on to say, it “definitely became very enjoyable.”

As for what the viewer can expect from this new animation, Inger hopes they become immersed in a feverish dream where love feels like the overriding emotion. And if the viewer gets a bit confused along the way, she adds, “maybe it’s a mixture of disarray and love.” In the future, Inger hopes to embark on a master’s degree in animation in Berlin, putting her newly earned German Profifciency Certificate into use.

GalleryInger Bierma: Weirdest Ritual (Copyright © Inger Bierma, 2021)

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Inger Bierma: Weirdest Ritual (Copyright © Inger Bierma, 2021)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

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