From Women Laughing Alone with Salad to the Distracted Boyfriend meme, awkward stock photography can be really good for a laugh. Animator Michael Marczewski’s latest series Coexist makes use of footage found in the depths of stock clip archives for similarly humorous – and at times surreal – ends, mixing snippets with his weird computer-generated worlds.
“I was fascinated with how mundane some of the stock footage actually was and couldn’t imagine how it would ever be used, other than in a comedic way,” Michael tells us. “I also thought extending the boundaries of the frame of the footage was a fun concept to play with.”
Coexist started as a series of individual animations on Instagram, before Michael became addicted to making them and decided to upgrade it to a longer-length project. “You see a lot of CG animation tracked into live action footage, but not the reverse of that,” says Michael. “I tried to keep the the clips visually similar so when it came to putting them together into a film they flowed nicely.”
Blinkink artist Michael sourced comedy gold by scouring through hundred, perhaps thousands of clips, sometimes randomly, but mostly with a concept in mind. “I would always be drawn to the more mundane clips, and the clips that looked as though someone was making them quite amateurishly, in their house or down at the local park,” he explains. “The clips where people look quite bored and fed up add a lot of comedy, especially once they are plonked into these fantastical environments.”
Most of the environments Michael designed were directly inspired by the footage he found. A film of a man throwing out old DVDs sparked the idea of someone throwing away extinct animals and dinosaurs, whereas footage of a man putting on VR glasses inspired Michael to draw a cave full of boobs, naturally.
Sound design, by Harm Esterhuizen from Zing Audio, also ties the snippets together, which range from people exercising or blowing bubbles to squeezing spots – warning, it’s pretty graphic. “I chose to use realistic sound design to keep them fairly grounded in reality and let the visuals provide the humour,” says Michael. “I’d like people to enjoy it as an unusual idea and a different way of seeing media interacting.”