Said the Whale “Unamerican” by Johnny Jansen

At first, the viewer is met with a blank canvas, then lettering appears spelling out: “This video was made entirely by hand with no visual FX.” What follows is a super creative music video for “Unamerican” by the band Said the Whale, a Vancouver, BC based indie rock band. In it, photos of the band spit out from a color printer and move about then out into the world at large, all the while the photos are live themselves showing the band playing the music in 2-d on them. The effect is pretty unique.

“The original plan was to direct a video that didn’t use any visual effects, which as a motion graphics artist was completely out of my comfort zone,” Director Johnny Jansen told us. “At first, the plan was to make a simple video of a stack of papers slowly reducing with the video playing on top. Once I wrapped my head around how we would achieve this effect, I couldn’t help but imagine all the possibilities of what a piece of paper could do. That’s when I sought out help from the talented stop motion team at Foreshadow Films. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Affolter brothers at FF, so partnering with them wasn’t only essential, it was a dream.”

Once they got into production, the first step was the live shoot—a simple shoot done in a friend’s basement. “The idea I had was to go with a 90’s wide angle jump cut style to make it seem like they were playing inside a piece of paper,” Jansen said. “After we locked the cut, the next step was to find a location and make an animatic.”

“I planned out the route, filmed it with my phone and timed it with the performance in after effects. I added the timecode and made a few simple animations that would allow us to sync up with important moments in the song. Once I was happy with the animatic, I then gave it to the Affolter brothers to play with and add other timed animations (origami folding, paper crumbling, car driving etc).”

With a finalized animatic, the next step was to print. Jansen explained: “I had embedded a very small timecode in the bottom right corner of each photo to make sure we were shooting the right frame. I then exported the 2,250 frames as a JPG sequence, organized the photos into PDF’s based on the scenes in the animatic and sent it to the printer.

“…We imported the animatic into Dragonframe as reference to make sure we were shooting the correct frames and synced with the right animations. About 60 hours and a lot of elbow grease later, we had a finished product! This whole process was eye opening for me and I’m really, really excited to do more stop motion in the future.”

Glad to hear you’ve caught the bug too, Johnny. Looking forward to what you try next!

For more on the process, check out their behind the scenes video here: