I wrote this Top 5 for Sight & Sound back in January on behalf of Animate, but as it’s more than half way through the year already and S&S haven’t yet posted it online I may as well share it here before I find myself writing my Top Five of 2015 list.
2014 was a great year for artists and filmmakers exploring online technology as a means to garner support for their work, to spread crucial campaign messages, and to question the networks that we all buy into.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared 3
It’s delightful to see the continuation of the highly original Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series. We featured their first DHMIS video in Sight & Sound’s 2011 web video poll – won over by its catchy call to creativity. In 2014, directors Becky & Joe had the smart idea of harnessing the power of the DHMIS fans, and launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund 4 new films in the series for online release (including this episode). Each film is more ambitious and more peculiar than one before, but features the same curious characters, trying to make sense of the complexities of existence through the medium of song. Bonus feature in this episode: the grotesque spawn at the end comes courtesy of horror animation maestro Robert Morgan.
Psychometrics, Alan Warburton
What I especially appreciate about Alan Warburton’s work is its interrogation of the type of digitally perfect computer generated imagery that we often take for granted in our feature films, commercials, music videos, video games, news graphics etc. In Psychometrics, fabricated corporate environments become increasingly more arresting and portentous as the viewer is led on an endless tracking shot into a series of platitudes flashing up on the dominating screens. The work draws attention to the banalities of the type of speak we are accustomed to in TED Talks and on social media platforms, where sentiments are reduced to bite size, shareable phrases. As Alan says, “on social networks our friends become brands, and brands become our friends”.
#FeelingNuts, Studio AKA
This cheeky viral was produced by Studio AKA to help raise awareness about the risk of testicular cancer amongst young men. Who could resist the amusing Spud Bros characters? Voiced by Ant & Dec no less, and animated in a range of fantastic styles by the studio’s creative team, they certainly demand attention. The online campaign – using the hashtag #FeelingNuts to encourage people to share the message that it’s important to regularly check your testicles, as early diagnosis saves lives – has reached more than 780 million to date.
Throne: Tharsis Sleeps, Nicos Livesey & Tom Bunker
You have to applaud artists for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in animation. There have been quite a few knitted music videos, but as far as I can deduce from a quick bit of googling, this is the only music video where each frame of the 3,000 frames needed to tell the tale has been individually embroidered onto material, photographed, and then digitally sewn together to produce a remarkable sci fi adventure. With its nod to the band patches that fans of doom bands such as Throne adorn themselves with, Nicos Livesey‘s video is a well-deserved recipient of a UK Music Video Award. More about the inspiration and process behind the video can be found on their Kickstarter page.
Way Out, Yukai Du
This beautifully designed graduation film tells an all too familiar tale musing on the perils of how in the modern age we are more absorbed in communicating via our smartphones than directly with those around us. Whilst this notion is all well and good, many people who encounter this work will most likely be watching it on the Vimeo application on their smartphone or tablet. Who knows where these virtual connections might lead the maker, Yukai Du in the future?