Illustrator and animator Stevie Gee has directed an 80s inspired film for Cancer Bats’ latest video, Gatekeeper. Brimming with goblin-like creatures who ride on motorbikes or side eye staring flying flamingos, the short continues Stevie’s flair for character design.
Inspired by animations such as He-Man, She-Ra and Bravestar, Stevie was looking to emulate the character design created by animation studio Filmation, without directing a music video that was “too serious or gnarly”. Instead, Gatekeeper leans towards “the fun goofiness” of films like Wacky Races or Scooby Doo, building a storyline of “silly violence and weirdo characters to (hopefully) create something weird and fun,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Stevie’s characters are an illustrated mix of terrifyingly gruesome faces, always smiling or smirking to show their razor shop teeth. Detail is elevated in the music video by the illustrator’s well thought out colour palette, a sickly green mixed with neon pinks, blues and purples, shown in his depiction of his character’s attributes such as their striking costumes.
A mix of live action footage of the band by Jim Agapatio (which lives inside a mystic crystal ball) and animation, Stevie also worked with illustrator Essy May who helped to develop the story and drew the skies, rocks and castle backgrounds illustrated with pencil and watercolours. “I wanted to ensure the animation had that flat animation cel style in the front, but a more washy feel in the background,” he explains. “Essy was the perfect choice for this job as she draws everything painstakingly in pencil. I feel like it definitely would have lacked some soul if it was all drawn digitally.”
The inclusion of live action footage in animated video is a difficult mix to get right, but is an angle Stevie wanted to include as he’s such a fan of the band’s performances. “Combining live action with animation is a tricky one as it can be really jarring if its a sudden cut. We couldn’t animate the entire thing so by having a minute total of band footage integrated inside the scene was super helpful,” says Stevie. “The band always deliver such an amazing live performance so it’s super rad to actually see them playing within the animation.”
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