Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Conversation With WeWereMonkeys: Land of Talk "It's Okay"

WeWereMonkeys: Land of Talk- It's Okay

WeWereMonkeys: Land of Talk - It's Okay from WeWereMonkeys on Vimeo.

Toolfarm: Can you tell us a little about WeWereMonkeys? What is your history, your backgrounds?

WeWereMonkeys: Davide Di Saro holds a Master's Degree in Fine Arts and Design from The Dutch Art Institute and has exhibited his art works internationally in China, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy. One of his works was awarded honorable mention by UNESCO in 2003. Davide has worked as a professional photographer in Italy, and as an Interactive Designer at the Banff Centre.

Mihai Wilson has travelled extensively, picking up inspiration from around the world. He worked as an Animator and Designer for Adbusters Magazine from 2002-2004, developing provocative animations that have had worldwide exposure. In 2004, he co-founded Biro Creative. He has created animations and interactive works for organization such as The United Nations Foundation, Greenpeace and The World Wildlife Fund.

WeWereMonkeys began in 2007 when Mihai and Davide created an insane stream of consciousness stop-motion animation for Malajube's Le Crab, which was nominated for the 2007 MTV People's Choice Video Award. They successfully followed this with the production of a second video for Malajube's Ton Plat Favori, which was featured in the 2008 Independent Music Video Festival. In 2009, WWM's video for Land of Talk's It's Okay was featured in Stash 63 and was chosen as one of The 5 Best Videos of 2009 by TIME Magazine.

(WeWereMonkeys Directors Davide Di Saro and Mihai Wilson in their New York studio 2009)

TF: How did you begin this particular project- were you approached by Land of Talk with this idea, or is it something you came up with collectively?

WWM: WeWereMonkeys was asked to write a treatment for Land of Talk through Toronto-based production company, The Field. WWM's Producer, Marcella Moser, came up with the idea of Queen Antiope, and then together we developed and wrote the treatment. The video is about Queen Antiope, the last warrior of the legendary Amazon tribe.


TF: Do you typically storyboard your projects out?

WWM: We definitely storyboard, but we're spontaneous and don't like locked storyboards. While producing "It's Okay" we needed a solid plan and an organized shot list because of limited time each day with the horse and rider.


TF: What camera did you shoot with? Knowing that everything would be in slow motion, were there any special considerations or challenges with each shot?

WWM: To fit with the dark mood of the song we wanted to capture the live footage in slow motion. We shot the entire video with a RED at 100fps 2K 16:9 using Nikon lenses. From the open door of a speeding minivan, we shot the horse and rider galloping along side of an airstrip. Davide flew in an ultra-light to capture the aerial shot. To keep the lighting consistent, we shot the horse and rider at 6am every day. The main challenge was avoiding hazy shots due to seasonal forest fires.

(Director Davide Di Saro filming actress Ines Stone and Desi from an ultra-light with pilot Randy Rauck from Raven Aviation)

TF: What software do you use for the compositing and effects? Any 3rd party plugins used for the particle and hair effects?

WWM: We used After Effects for compositing and Cinema 4D to create the animated hair. Plugins used were RE:VisionFX Twixtor, Red Giant Knoll Light Factory, Trapcode Particular and Polygon Studio Light Wrap.


TF: How were the background and environmental elements created?

WWM: The background was matte painted in Photoshop, and the anti-gravity debris was animated by hand in After Effects.


TF: It looks like the main character is the only live footage, with most of the background/ textural elements all being shot or created separately. How did this affect how everything was brought together?

WWM: We shot, edited and rotoscoped the live footage first, and then built the environment around the horse and rider.


TF: You seem to have a great deal of variety in style from your demo reel. Is this due to each member of your team having a design niche of sorts, or based on the needs of each project?

WWM: Variety is key to WWM's work. We love experimenting with multiple mediums; it leads us to new ideas and unique visual outcomes. We are very hands-on; from creative direction, set construction, costume design, photography, illustration, rendering and VFX, we do it all.


(Left: Directors Davide Di Saro and Mihai Wilson on location with DP, Dominic Schaefer Right: Mihai Wilson and Davide Di Saro getting actress Ines Stone ready for the shoot)

TF: Any current or on-the-horizon projects you're working on?

WWM: WWM is currently working on a music video for Coheed and Cambria.


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