How the video for Fenn Rosenthal's Dinosaurs in Love was made in just 24 hours
Animation dream team Hannah Jacobs, Anna Ginsburg and Katy Wang made the film at breakneck speed for the three-year-old internet sensation and daughter of musician, Tom Rosenthal.
- 3 February 2020
- Jenny Brewer
- Reading Time
- 3 minutes
Apparently musician Tom Rosenthal's children often wander into his studio when they're bored, so a hit song was possibly to be expected at some point – but not aged three. Fenn Rosenthal has, however, become an overnight internet sensation with her eyewateringly cute song Dinosaurs In Love going viral after her dad posted it on social media last week. Since then, it’s been on the news, Jimmy Fallon sang it on his US talk show, and just in time for a segment on BBC's The One Show, an animated music video was commissioned, with a 24 hour deadline. Animator Hannah Jacobs received a call from Rosenthal Senior at 7am last Thursday (The One Show goes out on Friday afternoon) and tells us about the chaotic day that followed.
“Tom asked if it was possible to create a video for [the song] to be televised the very next day. For some bonkers reason I decided it would be an interesting challenge to see what could be created in that time frame. I contacted Anna [Ginsburg] and Katy [Wang] because they’re obviously fantastic directors and I’ve worked with them both in the past so we already have a shorthand which helped streamline the process. Amazingly they were both on board and up for the challenge!”
The video is almost as cute as the song, with a naive drawing style befitting the vocals that wasn’t purely a stylistic choice. Jacobs continues: “The aesthetic was pretty much dictated by the ridiculously tight time frame. I had to ditch my usual 300 Photoshop brushes in favour of a much simpler style, which fortunately suited the tone of the song!”
So, how do you make an animated music video in a day? “With very little sleep!” explains Jacobs, and “the generosity of the amazing animators I know who gave over their day and night to help us out.” Jacobs describes the process as “a case of extreme tag teaming and multi tasking,” Ginsburg writing out ideas, Jacobs designing the film and putting style frames together. Quickly, the animation team amounted to seven people (thanks, Wang says, to Hannah at Strange Beast pulling it all together). Together, the crew worked at eight frames per second to bring the workload down, making use of the simple style to make the project feasible.
“Hannah’s [Jacobs] ability to design beautiful things extremely quickly is what made this possible,” says Ginsburg. “While I was writing ideas she finished the two dinosaurs who I LOVED and we were ready to get animating.” Wang, unbelievably, had another job to finish in the morning, before she started working on this late into the night. The following day was spent compositing the video and fixing “loads of little errors, such as scenes done by different people not lining up correctly. By the time I exported the video around 4pm I was surviving on a cup of coffee and a piece of toast that I’d had for breakfast”.
Then, in a whirlwind, it was out in the world, and the results match the endearing humour of the song itself. Besides the challenge of actually making the thing, there are other details the animators are proud of, proving that great ideas sometimes don’t need time to ruminate. “For me it’s all about the Dino tongue in the opening shot, from Anna’s brilliant brain, animated by Matt Lloyd,” says Jacobs. “I had around an hour to think of how best to visualise the whole song,” continues Ginsburg. “For the line 'Dinosaurs eating people' I knew the audience had to be on the dinosaurs’ side from the start. What better reason to eat someone than them papping you using a selfie stick? When this idea struck I dropped my toast, shocked at my own genius.”
“The whole feel of the video is so sweet and naive and sad,” says Wang. “The simplicity of the designs match the innocence of the song perfectly. I love that it feels like an animated picture book with the lyrics at the bottom.”
Dinosaurs In Love is now on Spotify, and all proceeds will go to wildlife charities.