Narrated by Dave, Beats’ stop motion ode to Marcus Rashford is made with 532 crayon drawings

Artist Gaia Alari talks us through crafting an epic footballing journey, using only a flipbook and a considerable amount of patience.

Date
4 August 2022

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To ring in the start of a new Premier League season, Beats by Dre (Beats) has turned to traditional 2D stop motion. Collaborating with Milan-based filmmaker and animator Gaia Alari, alongside rapper Dave for narration, Beats launches Never Beaten: a 60-second animated short paying homage to Marcus Rashford MBE, made using a flipbook. The film is largely centred around the pursuit of greatness, following Marcus’ footballing journey, from early starts and late finishes, to the resilience needed to remain steadfast against external pressure. Never Beaten also explores the never-ending cycle of mistakes and correction needed to master a craft, including football – an idea which is reflected in the film’s stop motion DNA.

“I find that little mistakes, the crumpling of the paper now and then, the differences between the marks of the crayon you can spot in each single frame, are conceptually close with the dynamism of the images I had to recreate and with the process of training,” Gaia tells It’s Nice That. “It's a process that in fact consists of repetition over repetition, mistakes and adjustments.” Certainly, the techniques used on Never Beaten are unique for such a mammoth campaign. Not only does Gaia work in traditional 2D, eschewing digital methods for a hand-drawn approach, but the film is also made using a flipbook, which is far from a mainstay in commercial animation work.

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Gaia Alari: Beats by Dre, Never Beaten – Marcus Rashford and Dave (Copyright © Beats by Dre, 2022)

For Gaia, this format “conveys a particular kind of warmth that is harder to achieve through computer generated images”. Never Beaten took Gaia a month to make, or 532 drawings, depending on how you prefer to mark the time. The style of the project is informed at many points by the process; it's minimal and unbusy to make room for dynamic, constantly adjusting movement, with a colour gradient suggesting marks on paper. For the training sequences, which is a key part of the narrative, Gaia worked closely with creative director Casey Ryder. The pair turned to vintage sports All Seasons Portfolio folders for inspiration.

Gaia says the main challenge came in clearly conveying the overarching storyline of Never Beaten: “the power of music and self-determination in the pursuit for greatness through hardships”. Especially in today’s landscape, where the presence of social media has placed a bigger toll than ever before on athletes.

Both Gaia and Dave touch on the impact online hate has had on Marcus within the film’s 60-second runtime, as well as his unshakeable vision for the future. In a press release from Beats, Marcus comments: “Dave has a way with words that can articulate feeling like no one else. He understands that football mirrors life, you’re always going to face obstacles but it’s how you react and recover that defines us.”

Check out Never Beaten above, or on Beats’ Instagram and Twitter.

GalleryGaia Alari: Beats by Dre, Never Beaten – Marcus Rashford and Dave (Copyright © Beats by Dre, 2022)

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Gaia Alari: Beats by Dre, Never Beaten – Marcus Rashford and Dave (Copyright © Beats by Dre, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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