Jack Brown On The Art Of Animation

Jack Brown (whose list of successes already include a music video for Gold Fir and Doe Paoro alongside works for the likes of Rejjie Snow, James Blake and Jasmine Thompson) tells me that you need 12 frames to make one second of animated video. That sounds unrealistic, or at least incomprehensible. I need to see an example.

57 individual hand drawn frames showing the breakdown of 4.7 seconds of video, below, from Gold Fir ‘Night Walk’. 

Well he’s right, obviously. These 57 line drawings (or 57 frames) make up 4.7 seconds of the clip above. So that is, in fact, 12 frames per second. That’s simple enough to grasp, but as Jack explains, this is only the beginning. “The animation is in colour, so I needed to go over every one of the line drawings that you can see. The whole scene took around 3-4 days”. 4 days? I’m in shock, it took him 4 days to create 5-6 seconds of animation, how can he ever get anything done I ask. “It really varies a lot from scene to scene, some are much harder to figure out than others”. He’s just being modest, I think to myself.

“Movement and actually being able to realise what’s in your head is the most consuming part of animation. It’s trial and error, the drawing itself is only a fraction of the time is takes.”

So Jack shows me the entire music video (watch above!), and as a total newcomer to animation I have to know, firstly, how he made the figures dance to the beat of the music, and where exactly those dance moves came from?

“I separately animated each one of the dancing characters, 12fps, ensuring that they moved on the beat by counting out the beats in the song and matching it to the movement.  I.e. if there was 2 seconds in between each beat I would make sure that on the 24th frame the character would be in the right pose.” And as for the dance moves, well naturally, he came up with them himself just by dancing to the song in his studio…

Secondly, and here maybe I am just completely behind the times, am I watching these animated figures dance in real-life environments?

Jack explains “So the making of Night Walk was a new experience for me and totally experimental, it was actually extremely low tech. I borrowed a friends DSLR camera and went around London filming obscure areas with nice lighting.  For some of the moving shots I just lay face down on my skateboard and filmed as I rolled down a hill. I wanted it to be out of focus, enough that you could take in the environment but not make it out exactly, with an immeasurable scale, as if to create another world within ours, familiarity mixed with mystery. To bring the two parts together and to enhance a few things and give it that neon 80s feel I used After Effects.” 

Thank you Jack!

Jack Brown has just begun his MA at the Royal College of Art in Illustration. See more of his work at jbanimation.co.uk.

Pallas Kalamotusis

Pallas Kalamotusis is Collectionair’s Editor in Chief. She has an MA in Modernism in Europe from the Courtauld Insitute of art, and works closely with collectors and curators on a variety of different projects.