Gorillaz reveals new 3D look with hallucinatory music video by Nexus

In perhaps the most seamless live-action-animation fusion for Gorillaz to date, Jamie Hewlett and Fx Goby show us what the next phase might look like for the band.

29 July 2022


Cracker Island is the latest chapter in the Gorillaz saga. Directed by Nexus Studios’ Fx Goby and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett, the music video – also starring Thundercat – signals a new animation direction. But after two decades building a virtual universe that seems to shift eternally between 2D and 3D animation, what does innovation look like for Gorillaz in 2022?

Opening on a hospital in LA, the new music video sees Murdoc, Noodle, Russel and 2D all return to the screen, with lead vocalist 2D brought into the waiting room only to be questioned by the police. We’re not left much time for answers, though, as Thundercat’s cameo quickly kicks off with the singer morphing between the states of inanimate live-action toy and psychedelic VFX vision. Cracker Island continues on in this trippy fashion, culminating in an appearance from Murdoc kitted out in occult robes. This theme surrounds the wider release of the album, echoed in some cryptic online easter egg from Gorillaz.

On production, Nexus Studios fuses live-action with animation and, while not a new approach for the band – in fact, you could argue it’s one of their underlying visual concepts – it’s arguably the smoothest we’ve seen the execution. This new era of animation is coined by Nexus in a release as “super stylised 3D”, particularly utilising “clever lighting techniques” to pull together textures.

Gorillaz have utilised 3D since Hewlett first introduced the four-piece as CG characters with Stylo in 2010. This is not a straightforward evolution, however; the creator has returned to 2D regularly since then, adapting to the needs of each project.


Nexus Studios: Gorillaz, Cracker Island (Copyright © Gorillaz, 2022)

As with every Gorillaz release, the looks of Murdoc, Noodle, Russel and 2D are also adapted for the music video – particularly Noodle, whose design has shifted dramatically over a 20-year period. As a testament to Hewlett’s dedication, the character appears to have literally aged in Cracker Island.

On co-directing the work, Fx Goby states: “Gorillaz’s iconic and groundbreaking legacy hugely inspired my early animation career. I was thrilled to partner with them to create this blend of live-action and animation, and knew we would need the perfect balance between stylised and realistic. I couldn’t be happier with the sculpt and textures both faithful to the design but very much their own version.”

For fans keeping up with Gorillaz lore, Nexus leaves us with a quote from Murdoc himself to contextualise the video: “Think of it as the final scene in the movie, the bit after the grand finale when the hero (me) is about to stride into the sunset, credits rolling. That’s right, we’re starting at the end.”

GalleryNexus Studios: Gorillaz, Cracker Island (Copyright © Gorillaz, 2022)

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Nexus Studios: Gorillaz, Cracker Island (Copyright © Gorillaz, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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