Interview with Audri Phillips
[ Conducted in July 2010 ]
Audri Phillips - the person responsible for my favourite video clip for my favourite band. What more can I say - this is an absolute pleasure and privilege...
How did you end up getting the role of Art Director for the Shadrach video clip?
At that point in my life I was doing a lot of oil painting and exhibiting them. I lived in one tiny room and basically made my living taking jobs here and there in the world of film and rock videos, art directing, storyboarding, painting and designing. I was working with Adam Yauch to develop the look of the video and I think it became apparent to all involved that I was the natural person to art direct the video. Tim Block the producer made the final decision.
Were you a fan of the band prior to taking on the job? (were you even aware of the band)
I was aware of the band, but not yet a fan.
Was a proof of concept developed first? Who's idea was it?
It was definitely the idea of Adam Yauch. He came and told me that he wanted a
very painted video look.
How many people were involved in the project?
Not really sure anymore - the credits must be listed somewhere. I know we had about 7 or 8 painters, all of them
very talented. Marlon West is now working for Disney as an animator.
Would you be able to step us through the process for making the clip.
Footage was shot of the band using very bad bank security cameras, so the footage that came to us was mostly very blurry. Every 4th frame was turned into a photgragh that was registered to animation pegs. Light background washes using acrylic paints were put on the heavy print paper (also registered to animation pegs) we painted on. Carole Cowley was one of the background artists. Then using a light box we put the print paper over the the registered photo and a light pencil tracing was created on the print paper. Then the painters proceeded to paint the painting using acrylic paints. A painter might paint 100 frames then another painter would pick up there. Each painter did multiple sequences. In this way you had the wonderful style changes. We kept switching painters roughly for every lot of license was obviously taken from the original photographic image each frame was based on. Then the painting were shot on a down shooter camera. Chris Casady handled all of the down shooting and editing together of the sequences. The sequences were then edited together.
The animation is not constrained to just live footage, it also features a bear, an ox and what seems to be a manticore. Was there special meaning behind these creatures appearing?
You would have to ask Joe.
Film runs at 24 frames per second, with older Animation generally running at half that. Part of the charm of this clip is the stop motion aspect to it, you said it was 4 fps?
Yes, painting was shot for 4 frames. Then of course there was the pull down when it was changed to video.
That would make approximately 850-900 frames. So what happened to them all after the clip was completed?
Studio got them.
The frames are not on standard animation acetates, but seem to be on thick card. Why was that?
We wanted the animation to look like an animated fine art painting. So I decided to use the same acrylic paints that artists use. Then I needed a surface that coud handle acrylic paint, absorb the paint and stay flat so it could be shot under the down shooter. I thought about using water color paper but decided on the kind of paper that art prints are done on, thick archival printmaking paper. First each piece of paper was taped down and a background wash of color was put on it. Once it dried the paper would stay flat. Then the tape was removed and the main image was painted onto it. The standard clear acetate frames were not suitable for the kind of acrylic painting we wanted to do.
You also created clips for Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson with Eddie Murphy and had your work included in a Madonna video clip. Was Shadrach your first video clip?
Bon Jovi was the first one. Think I got paid $500 for art directing and building sets. Oh the music biz... I used to do lots of storyboards for videos I hardly remember - there was a cool one for Howard Jones.
Both the album it was taken from (Pauls Boutique) and the single itself were not commercial hits at the time they were released. Did you get much exposure from working on the clip?
You have been involved with numerous big name films (Batman, Spider-Man, Harry Potter, Monster Vs Aliens). How did you start out with computer animation?
I have always been a fan of technology and interested in new ideas. Way back in college I took a course in computer animation from Nelson Max - wanted to get a masters in it - but was told by Carnegie Mellon where I got my under graduate degree that computers did not have anything to do with art.
If you were given the same project now with today's technologies, would you change anything?
Probably do it in a computer paint package. Painter is a great one.
You have worked on varying artistic works (video clips, movies, playstation games, and even an animated ride). What areas interest you the most and is there any areas you would like to get into?
I love doing experimental animation. I call it visual poetry. Would like to do VJ stuff but in a more purposeful and planned out way. Staring out knowing what the trajectory of the performance was. Where I wanted to take the audience. I love to also combine poetry I write with the images.
What are you currently working on? What's in the pipeline?
Freelancing in the digital industry in LA, doing a bit of teaching at Woodbury University. Working on a number of my animations simultaneously including one in stereo, The working title is "Green Beans Gone Wild".
Working on having what I am calling a projection party - covering buildings with the video of lots of artists.
Started putting up some of my work on Vimeo as I like the quality better than that on Youtube: http://www.vimeo.com/user3959107/videos I would love to hear comments back about any of my work.
Also writing a blog and articles for Intel. http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/author/audri-phillips/, http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/the-basics-of-the-art-of-lighting-part-1-simple-principles-of-and-techniques-for-creating-artful-lighting/
Thank you very much for taking the time out to chat with us.
Alison from SayonaraBeat.com
Dave "Day-Z Daze" Parsons
Peanut Butter Wolf
Peder from The Prunes
Quami De La
Taco Zip, Max Tannone and DJAK47
Jim Evans from T.A.Z.
Andy VanDette at Masterdisk