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Bens Pens - Head In A Twist

I made this video for Ben and Jason, as well as all the lovely people who donated money to help me replace my camera. Thank you so much and I really hope you enjoy the video :D

Download/Stream Bens Pens “Niagara” EP here: http://benspens.bandcamp.com/

Like Bens Pens on Facebook: http://fb.com/mybandscalledbenspens

Read more below

RIP Canon 550D

On the 18th of May (2012 — incase you’re in the future/past reading this!) Ben of Bens Pens was launching the band’s new EP, “Niagara”, and so was performing the EP in its entirety, as well as a few other songs. I thought it’d be great to take my Canon 550D along to film the evening.

The gig was great: real intimate setting, performances from funny little numbers to longer, serious works and a lovely bar policy (pay-what-you-like = best). All of which I caught on camera, including a slight sway from maybe a few beers!

After the gig, we were all set to grab a few drinks at a pub around the corner called The Enterprise. This is where my bag was stolen. We couldn’t figure it out… We were sat in such a way that it was impossible (from our perspective) to steal the bag and then with what intention would they want to steal the bag (unless they had x-ray vision). Anyway, either beaver, the bag somehow went walkies never to be seen again, camera was inside the bag, I had no insurance… Eurgh!

I ain’t no Kickstarter beggar…

For my own, personal projects (and things for friends/creative freedom) I have never been in a position where I’ve been funded. Either from a company or crowdfunding (aka: cyber-begging). Yeah, maybe some booze is bought, and, yeah, maybe travel is covered, but I’ve always made stuff on a shoestring/out of my own pocket because I like that. It gets me thinking creatively how I can use the available resources around me and to put myself through new learning experiences so I can make better things. Stealing my gear is a set back in those resources and prevents me from being able to make those awesome things possible. Quit stealing shit and be creative with what’s already available to you.


A few days later, Mr Bens Pens and Jason Rust were awesome enough to set up a PayPal donation page and whore it about a little. I’m not sure how many people donated, but £380 was raised in the end, and my eye brows also raised too… RAISED OFF MY FACE IN SURPRISE! I couldn’t believe how much money was raised in such a short period of time and the kindness of Ben, Jason and everyone who donated was overwhelmingly awesome and quickly restored my faith in humanity.

(Looks, no more paint splats. YAY)

What do I do?

I wanted to say thank you to everyone, which I did, but a textual thank you just reads as being ungrateful when you’ve just been given a load of money like that from a whole bunch of awesome dudes (I bought Ben and Jason a lot of drinks, but still… that’s not enough). And I treated the donation as if people were investing in me… *gasp* My first funding! So I knew I should put my creative cap on and do something better. I didn’t tell Ben or Jason, but I thought I’d make a music video for one of the songs on the EP… My favourite being “Head in a Twist” as, for some reason, it’s one of those songs that provided visuals upon hearing it. That was my first choice; no brainer (seriously, I don’t have a brain)!

To the animation-station!

(This is about the process and thinking behind the project. You can skip this if you don’t givabeaver.)

My idea was to create a hand drawn, hand painted animation for the video. Immediately this screams expensive due to material costs, but thankfully there are some amazing and realistic softwares out there to aid this process, whilst keeping it as natural feeling as possible.

I first tried ArtRage. Lovely. BUT, huge massive baboon-butt, the lack of timeline meant it was make it tedious to try and maintain any kind of consistency.

Then I tried TVPaint. Perfect. It’s like someone took the better ArtRage drawing and painting tools (with LOADS of customisations) and slapped a timeline with it. I could pick holes in this app (you try working on a large project in this 32 bit thing and you’ll want to rip your nipples off in no time… And the UI doesn’t sit right on a Mac), but there’s a part of me that forgives it as the drawing tools make up for everything! *kisses TVPaint* shhh. I love you, really.

Tools sorted, I need to create a video to work from, as it’d speed the process up a little. I got in touch with the singer on the EP, Ilaria Graziano, to get some video of her singing the song. She lives in Rome, which either made an extremely good excuse to go on holiday, or difficult to film, but good ol’ modern technology was here to save the day (meaning no holiday).

The video looked like this:

Ugly, I know. Stuff like this would normally make me jump ship on the project, but I had faith in how it’d turn out so I cracked on with the lines…

… Which completely restored my faith in the project. Line clean-ups wasn’t apart of the aesthetic of the project, phew, so onto the colouring in!

"OooooooOOOoo, nice glove!"

Tech’n’times. The animation was shot at 8 frames per second, totalling 1200 frames. The project took me 2 months, working somewhere between a minimum 3 hours to a maximum 16 hours a day. After Effects was used to create the roto-video and final video master. And a Cintiq and Samsung Slate were used to digitise my pen wrangling directly into TVPaint to pencil outlines and colour.

And finally…

Thank you to everyone who donated. I can’t thank you enough and I hope you accept this video as a thanks, a beverage of your choice bought for you, a hug and maybe a polite-yet-clumsy touch to your bottom. Thank you.

And to the person who stole/has my camera: You can keep the camera. It got fairly buggered after that Gunning For Tamar shoot (see picture near top - PAINT), therefor has completely depleted in value. But it’d be super awesome of you to send over the footage of the performance!

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