This Animated Music Video is a Colourfully Immersive Experience

Animating music videos is no easy feat, but Chicago-based animator Keith Wilson has a vested interest in designing narratives to complement music. His animated music video Runic-Drawn In, produced by Brian Peel and with original music by Homeshake, is a visually immersive experience in which colours try to break free from boundary lines.

The continuous flow of the animation style and Keith’s careful attention to the lyrics and message of the song makes Runic-Drawn In a unified and compelling piece.

We had a chat with Keith about his process as a music video animator.

THE PLUS: Apart from the lyrics, how did the song inspire your design choices?
Keith Wilson:
Looking back, one of the first things that resonated with me was how the song had a very strong contrast between two political points. Working with Brian Peel, who created the song, we decided to bring that to life in the design by offsetting bright vivid colours with black and white.

TP: Your animation shows a continuous flow of an evolving picture. Why is this continuity important to you?
I think the continuity is important in two ways. Visually it adds another layer of intricacy to the animation and then, from a narrative standpoint it brings the viewer closer to the work. It’s as if they are being drawn in (no pun intended) and I am helping to guide them down this rabbit hole.

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TP: You repeatedly feature a robot. How did this idea come up?
Funny enough, I actually got the inspiration of the robot from the robot in Star Wars: Rogue One. I knew I wanted to have something that would represent the oppressive powers and the robot did that but, as I look back, I think it more or less became the centre of the video.

TP: Your designs mostly have geometric foundations. What opportunities or advantages does this give you?
By using geometric shapes, I was able to further push this idea of opposing powers. I liked how rectangles and squares can become more than just shapes. They have a rigidness to them that helped illustrate stubbornness and power. Whereas a circle is something that is more flexible and easier to morph.

TP: Where did you draw your inspiration for the city skylines in the video?
The inspiration for the city skyline is actually Minneapolis, Minnesota. I wanted to reference a larger city but one that most people wouldn’t be able to recognise at first glance.

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TP: Can you expand on the video’s message, and how it coincides with the song?
The animation showcases the struggle of colours trying to break free from the boundary lines that have been put in place by the powers that be. It’s this constant conflict between those who want to reassert control and those who look to resist. I think it heavily ties into the lyrics of the song but brings it to life in a much more narrative and fluid approach.

TP: How do perfectionism and control mania limit creativity? Have you experienced these issues before?
I am definitely someone who is always looking to perfect my work but what I learned from this process is that, to some extent, you have to let go of those feelings. I had to really power through some nights to make deadlines I had setup for myself. It might not have been the best work at the moment but knowing I could always go back and finalise details helped me get through it.

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TP: Does modern society restrict creativity and thinking outside the box?
I think, like everything, society today is both good and bad for creativity. On the one hand, I am constantly being inspired by work from artists on various social media platforms. But then, of course, the negative to that is creating something original that stands out in a society that places an emphasis on blending in and keeping the status quo.

TP: Did you continuously listen to the song during the design process? How often have you heard it?
It’s funny you ask that. I’m pretty sure my wife thinks I am crazy for how many times I have listened to this song. Throughout the process, I would go back and re-listen and see if there was something I may have missed before.

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TP: Can you describe to us how you put yourself into the right mood and mindset to work and be creative?
I think any creative project you work on is always easier in the beginning. The content is new, you have fresh ideas and you’re ready to jump in and work on it. Once that initial excitement wears off it becomes like anything else. This project was no different and I learned a lot about myself as a creative by sticking with it.

TP: Any upcoming projects we can look forward to in the future?
Right now, I am in the process of going full-time freelance. For the past five years, I have been working at various ad agencies in Chicago. Beyond that, I definitely have a continued interest in creating music videos and helping to craft narratives from music.

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