Mirrorball Animation

Mirrorball Animation


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Animation allows directors to share their dreams, the boundary between reality and abstraction can be bent and broken to bring any idea to life. Whether hand drawn, computer designed or modelled in plasticine they all share the same artistic root, striving to make us see the vision in their head. Mirrorball's selection of animated music video promos are a selection of the best that have been produced in the last year, covering almost every type of music and a vast array of creative techniques.

The first in this assortment is from industry veterans Shynola and, as usual, it doesn't disappoint. Beck is cut and pasted into a suitably retro 3D vector world where he has all manner of crazy antics, from fighting zombies to cycling over buildings while singing E-pro. The Eighties BattleTanks vector look isn't wildly original - Shynola's own promo for Quannum's I Changed My Mind uses a similar process - but this example is polished and very entertaining. It's quite interesting to compare with the video for The Cribs' Mirror Kissers - also in the programme - which recreates a vector landscape, but through the labour intensive process of drawing it on a blackboard in stop motion animation - clearly retro-gaming is still holding the promo makers in it's thrall. The rest of Diamond Dogs' effort is equally studious - a large portion film is created from photocopies and hand tinted with highlighters - which produces a lavish and punky effect.

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Oscar Wright brings us a timely neo-fascist vision for Coldcut's Everything's Under Control. A hipster protagonist walks through the streets of London seeing various acts of brutality being carried out by gas-masked riot cops; as he wanders further into the city his paranoia mounts and he is soon pursued, caught and processed. The visuals marry the desaturated tones of Chris Cunningham's videos with the overdesigned cutout video collage effects of the Designers Republic and the overall effect is quite satisfying - like a moving anti-anti-terror propoganda poster - and as a audio visual package, it works well. This bleak outlook is prevalent in several of the other promos on show, Subtle's Swan Meat (Dir. SSSR) - in which the world is eaten by a spreading black mass - and Mira Calix's Umbra/Penumbra (Dir. Liam O) - where a forest of beings are poisoned and destroyed, mutating into spider-eyed nasties - are both dark and fairly grim, appearing to be a response to the pressure of current political events and the associated depression.

However, it's not all moping. With vocals like "I'm Luke, I'm five and my dad's Bruce Lee and he drives me around in his JCB" a certain light visual tone would have to be struck for Nizlopi's JCB Song and the result is a lovely little film. Using a computer to manuipulate hand drawn characters to bring a doodle of a remembered childhood scene creates a perfect backdrop for this indie mellow track. Aberfeldy's Love Is An Arrow gets a similarly cute and comic representation of Inuit love and betrayal - almost in the visual style of South Park and Ben Dawkins gives the comedy treatment to a Jimmy Edgar track when a young man goes to the Imaginary Friend Support Group to try and give his non-existant little chum - a minature skeleton with chattering teeth for a head - the boot, but finds love instead.

Other shorts of note include the video for Motor's Din 10 - a particularly appropriate title for a rather caustic track. A watercolour face changes with every beat as though the person depicted is being caused physical pain by the harsh sounds and it is quite excellent, as is Colleen's The Happy Sea. The kaleidoscopic depiction of unfolding flowers looking like flapping Rorshach blot butterflies is much less abrasive, but equally beautiful.

There are a few bum notes in this collection though. Michel Gondry's contribution for Devendra Banhart is very short and not up to his usual quality, and Venetian Snares' Szamar Madar gets a fairly generic treatment from David O'Reily. Thomas Hicks' and Ali Taylor's videos for Gravenhurst and Emiliana Torrini aren't actively bad, they're just a bit dull and, fortunately, forgettable compared to the rest of the films.

The best of the entire showreel is probably the last. It's a short rather than a music video and is filmed using a simple stop motion process. However, the concept and execution is fantastic. The interior walls of a dingy looking garage are the canvas for Richard Coldicott and spraypaint is his primary tool. The walls are smoothly filled with blossoming grafitti that flows over entire walls, creeping along to the selection of hip-hop that accompanies it. It's simply brilliant and worth the entrance fee on its own.

Well, that was a longer review than I planned, but that's only because there is simply so much good stuff in this collection of animated shorts that anything less wouldn't have done it justice.

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2005
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