A gang of ghouls embarks on a motorcycle journey to a castle in this 1980s-style music video, created for Toronto band Cancer Bats by designer Stevie Gee.
The London-based designer, who has previously directed videos for Stella McCartney, created the animated video for the band’s new track Gatekeeper – a song about people “who use lies, schemes and deceit to make their way through this world”.
“Everyone has a choice… they are the gatekeepers to their own future,” explained Liam Joseph Cormier, lead vocalist of Cancer Bats.
Gee worked with illustrator Essy May to develop the storyline and characters for the animation. It takes its cues from cartoons from the 1980s, including He-Man, She-Ra and Bravestarr, which were all created by production company Filmation.
“I was keen it wasn’t too serious or gnarly so I wanted it to have the fun goofiness of Hanna Barbera shows like Wacky Races and Scooby Doo. I combined that with some silly violence and weirdo characters to create something weird and fun,” said Gee.
The designer wanted the animations to have “cel-style” shading – a style often used in comics, where shadows are used to give depth to 2D graphics. He combined this with a “washy feel” background, achieved using pencil sketches and watercolour.
“Essy was the perfect choice for this job as she draws everything painstakingly in pencil, he explained. “I feel like it definitely would have lacked some soul if it was all drawn digitally.”
Throughout the video, bright illustrative visuals depict two pairs of ghouls on motorcycles, accompanied by birds, embarking on a destructive journey to a castle where they eventually have a showdown.
In the final scene, the animation combines with live-action visuals of the band trapped inside a crystal ball that is being held in the castle.
“Jim Agapitio directed the live-action stuff in Canada brilliantly. I had told him that the band would be trapped in a crystal ball so he got some wicked shots for the final death scene of the band members looking in great fear at the camera,” said Gee.
“Combining live action with animation is a tricky one as it can be really jarring if its a sudden cut, but we couldn’t animate the entire thing. So having a minute total of band footage integrated inside the scenes was super helpful,” he continued.
“The band always deliver such an amazing live performance so its super rad to actually see them playing within the animation.”
Retro graphics have long been popular in music videos. Other memorable examples include Coco Banana’s video for Earthquaker, featuring a cartoon couple falling in love, and Max Cooper’s video for Order from Chaos, which contains dynamic, colourful patterns.
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Author: Gunseli Yalcinkaya