A Band Becomes Animation, With Amazing Results

Nov 16, 2012
Originally published on November 16, 2012 9:42 am

Stop motion with live actors is nothing new in music videos. The Beatles did it nearly 50 years ago for the film A Hard Days Night. Peter Gabriel's 1986 "Sledgehammer" video is still mind-blowing. But few have done it as elegantly as Canadian rock duo The Zolas do for the band's mesmerizing, and amazing new video, "Knot In My Heart."

What you see isn't digital trickery. The band, along with director Sean Arden and animator Nathan Gilliss, shot the entire video frame by frame. Since all of the live-actor scenes were shot at night, each frame required longer exposures, and the band members had to remain insanely still. "It was probably one of the hardest projects I've ever undertaken," says director Arden. "All of the location shooting with live characters took six grueling nights, from dusk 'til dawn. I spent several more nights afterwards in the studio animating the paper photo strands."

Singer-guitarist Zach Gray tells us in an email that he probably wouldn't have agreed to the project if he'd known how much work it was going to be. "There was a moment I remember standing on the street at 4 a.m., knowing I just had to get 10 yards ahead, but also knowing that it would take three more hours to do that. It was a bit excruciating. After four hours of shooting we'd have a measly 10 seconds of actual footage. But the worst part was that those 10 seconds looked so beautiful we couldn't even whine about it. It feels great to whine about it now."

"Knot In My Heart" is from The Zolas latest album, Ancient Mars.

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