Digital Tools for Artists: Conference — Blue and Tomorrow
April 30, 2018
Conference Post by Izzy Singer
‘Blue’ and ‘Tomorrow’ are a personal exercise in visualizing music. Music is an influence in all of my art. I am very sensitive to the moods or stories portrayed in songs. Abstract representations are in conflict with my traditional animation background, however, finding a link between emotions and movement became a challenging and fun task that I took on for my Conference.
I did not storyboard, I am sorry to say.
My After Effects pieces take shape based on a single song, album or Spotify Playlist. So for each roughly 3 minute-long piece I tried to choose songs that I had become too familiar with at one point in time. I chose ‘Ring (feat. Kehlani)’ by Cardi B and ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ by Gorillaz.
Due to K. West’s recent political endorsement this song has lost my love. His actions in the last week were so sudden that I was not prepared to speak about it in my blog post but I believe it is necessary. I also changed the song and name of my video from ‘Blue Morning’ to ‘Blue’ and from ‘Good Morning’ to Cardi B’s ‘Ring’ from her new album, ‘Invasion of Privacy’. For the sake of understanding why I originally picked ‘Good Morning’ I am going to analyze the song itself and add some more personal information. I listened to Kanye West’s ‘Good Morning’, sparsely a few months before, religiously for three weeks before, and consecutively a few hours before, my High School Graduation. It was a big deal to graduate High School because of my life-long struggle with learning disabilities. It was also a big deal because for the first time I would not be coming back to a place that already knew I had disabilities. I would be on my own and I would have to put what little wordly experience and wit I had into protecting and supporting myself through college. At the time of my graduation from High School, his song was a magical mix of cynical with a hopeful and hypnotic melody of “oooh’s”. He peers into the idea of growing up, or rather, “waking up”. Now, I cannot relate to his experiences as a black man which he references consistently throughout the song, but in all honesty, lyrics hold a 40% value to me when I listen to a song. His lyrics hold importance as does the composition of the piece, the “oohooh” vocals, echoing beats and electric-almost-old-timey-sounding piano. I’ve used the words hypnotic, hopeful, cynical; for the most part it is melancholiac, nostalgic. A graduation is a time for reflection because it is an end. It tosses a person into the ring. And, as it happens, I am graduating again. This time into the world. So what color to best represent a little sadness and nostalgia? Blue. ‘Ring’ also encapsulates this sadness. It comes from fresh wounds. It is romantic. And there is something about it that rocks me to sleep and gives me a feeling of validation.
I used a vibrant blue against a black background and tried to keep the particle movements as atmospheric as I could. There are no 3D effects in the work but I love the deep-space look that expanding particles along the Z Radius can create and I played with that a lot while I worked. Once the second chorus began I sought ways to keep the video engaging while sticking to the Z-Radius format. I had begun the video with an immense amount of orbs and circular objects so I moved away from it for a moment to introduce them in an alternative way. I also introduced a new color: red.
By the end of the video I reverted back to faded orbs and circular objects with pink tones.
‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ by the Gorillaz interlude is very similar to Good Morning but it has a message that comes from a different ideology. Almost all songs by the Gorillaz has some joke or irony in it. I found Gorillaz a year ago and now associate the songs with certain friends who have become very important to me, as well as my own darker shade of humor and love of weird animated art. The personal connection may seem less deep but if bonding over a band is an experience that you can relate to then please understand it was very meaningful for me. I do not bond with others easily, or find artists who make me feel “got”. Where K. West goes big out of ego, the Gorillaz go big for the sake of absurdity and fun political satire. (Gorillaz’s last album was a criticism of conservatism and party culture so we shouldn’t be expecting any hasty Pro-Trump tweets from them.) There is something sarcastically gung-ho about ‘Tomorrow…’ so I wanted to keep it as separate from Blue Morning as I could. I also felt that in the lead singer, 2D’s, voice there is a groundedness and earthiness that always compliments the traveling sounds of the instruments in the background.
The earthiness I conjured by creating textured patterns in photoshop. I plugged those into After Effects and played with Kaleida and Color Change.
Unlike Blue Morning I could not imagine one color to signify the song. I pushed it beyond what I usually like (not too many bright colors) and attempted to even the whole thing out with a slow-moving star on the side. A slow-moving thing against an insane background was something I thought captured Gorillaz’s irony very well. It’s almost kinda funny looking. So it is perfect.
Once the second part of ‘Tomorrow…’ began I made a very dramatic change to small particles. I tried to keep it from being too linear for as long as I could. I created a ghostly background and had the star fade out for a time as the particles split across the screen. Once I got there, however, I created a linear path by making a vortex of the particles and moving it across like a tornado. I wanted the realistic quality to make an impression during a longer and mellow-er part of the song to keep attention.
The end of it centers around the dark background, moving star, and very sparse particles on the screen. The irony in Gorillaz’s songs are very broad but also dark. In the end it is fair to admit that there is something very ominous about ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ that deserve a still-ish end.