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Work / Animation

Raman Djafari’s unpredictable approach to animation makes for a hypnotic and emotive film

For his music video for Berlin trio Fjaak, animator Raman Djafari had the exciting, if intimidating, license to do whatever he wanted. Having known the group for a long time, they gave him complete creative freedom to the point where they only saw the video when it was completely finished. Their trust paid off, as Raman presented them with a hypnotic animation packed with complex transitions, vivid colours and emotive messages.

The video follows a male character “following an inner compass,” Raman explains, “drawn by the morphological white beings radiating from a person far in the distance.” When he finds its source, the two go on a journey together that reshapes them spiritually, which Raman visualises physically through their physical transfiguration. “The shape constellations represent the limitless formation one’s being can take shape as,” he says. “They are the pieces of the self that we rearrange over and over again making sense of ourselves and the world around us.”

It’s a highly personal interpretation of the music from Raman, who came up with the themes for the video by “thinking through drawing”. “It was important for me not to lose this honesty and spontaneity,” he says. Raman worked frame by frame in software TVPaint, to allow the film to directly reflect his emotional response to the song, and allow its meaning to emerge through the process of making – an approach he learned from reading about South African artist William Kentridge.

This approach is evident in the way the video evolves. The colours change dramatically over the course of the story, conveying the progression of the protagonist,. At the start they are dark, then the radiating white promises, Raman says, hope and companionship. As the characters’ hopes are fulfilled, the scenes are filled with vibrant colour.

Also reflective of Raman’s organic way of working are the transitions. “It works analogous to the way my thoughts connect,” he says. “There is a certain unpredictable but nevertheless intrinsically logical fluidity to their structure. The sensation of our experiences in a given moment gets tangled up with our emotional reactions.”

“In my opinion, animation is a great way to make sense of this multilayered human experience –just look to the works of Satoshi Kon or Masaaki Yuasa for example. It’s so easy to playfully cross the border between these different components of our mind to show the surreality of the human experience. In the transitions between the different scenes, is an attempt to capture this way of experiencing reality.”

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow

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Raman Djafari: Fjaak, Snow