When Roos Mattaar first listened to experimental rock band My Octopus Mind’s latest single, Welder, she instantly fell for the energy. “I imagined a crazy manic metal worker,” she told us, “engrossed in his creation and feeling quite literally on top of the world. The lyrics present themselves almost as a dialogue between this welder character and Mother Earth herself. I wanted to capture this relationship between the two characters as the main focus of the video.”
The conceptual video is a mixture of traditional puppet animation and live action practical effects. Although the piece was heavy on digital compositing, all the elements are practical. Either animated, filmed footage or stills. The main character, The Welder, was almost fully made from metal, showing the exposed ball and socket joints and using found objects and tin cans for the rest of his body and face.
Mattaar told us of the truly pieced-together materials process that, “Aardman Animations had kindly donated their spare unwanted armature parts and metal cut offs as a gift to our new stop motion studio space here at Hangar Puppet Animation Studio. I started out rummaging through piles of junk metal and old armature parts and used what I could find to re-purpose and re-build the parts to make them into a new character.
“Mother Earth had to look more natural and organic, whilst at the same time barren and exhausted from any living things. She was a tricky character to design and build as she is a planet as well as a woman and is partly the set for the film as well as a functioning puppet. I used a lot of different fabrics and paper to create the textures that would also form the landscape of the planet. The inside of her belly was hollow so that I could create the light effects by having lights inside, adding more light flicker effects during the shoot and finishing off the fire effect with live action effects layered on top during post production.”
She also had a lot of fun experimenting with the practical effects, from squirting paint into an aquarium, filming welding and angle grinding sparks, flame heat reflections for space textures and burning steel wool. “I really liked the idea of building this world and universe out of the same elements The Welder is using for his creations, and which in turn I was using to create the welder character,” she said.
When asked about challenges, Mattaar told us about the trickiness of the final sequence where The Welder character is running across, standing on, or being held by Mother Earth, while she is moving as well. “There was a lot of chroma keying,” she said, “which can be tricky to get right, and I could have set this up better. So this caused more challenges later on. I had some great help from my friend and very experienced VFX compositor Ferriol Tugues in the end, and know what to do better from the start next time now.”
That’s what it’s all about!