Everything seen in Said the Whale’s video for UnAmerican was created by hand using 2,250 separate pieces of paper, each printed with a frame of a previously filmed performance video. Each piece of paper was then photographed on set frame-by-frame. The video, released November 5, 2018, was produced by Johnny Jansen in association with Foreshadow Films and Amazing Factory.
Jansen, posting as Something_happened on Reddit, said “The entire process took about 80 hours. We started by filming the bands performance and making an edit. Then we used the edit to plan out an animatic which we would used to guide our stop motion process. Once the animatic was finished, I exported the video as a jpg sequence at 12fps, separated the files by each scene in PDF files and sent them out to the printer. Once we had the prints we used software to line up each frame with the previous one and slowly made the video. I embedded the time code on each frame so we could match it with the animatic.”
It’s attention grabbing from the opening shot of the first photo emerging from the printer. Of course, it’s not really emerging the printer. “We actually measured out where to cut each photo to make it animate,” said Jansen. “It took like four hours just to do the opening shot.”
Speaking of the printer, when Jansen was asked how much they spent on paper and ink he replied, “Not that much as you may think! Under $700 actually.” Remember that gang. When it comes to printing; the more you buy, the more you save.
Redditor sylo18 did the math regarding frames per second and, in addition to providing some lovely compliments, noted, “Only 2250 photos (as if that isn’t loads! Haha) I just mean for a 3 minute song I thought it would be closer to 4000 photos.”
“It would have been 4,500 if we did it at 24fps but we chose to make it 12fps,” explained Jansen. The decision worked because the jumpy motion compliments the beat and energy of the song.
Another subtle touch that stands out is the way the utensils move with the beat in the kitchen scene. “That one scene took five hours,” said Jansen. “When the knife cut through the page we had to cut hundreds of photos in the exact spot.”
A final note from Jansen, one that may resonate with StopMotionPlanet readers: “Way more work than anticipated but 100% worth all the effort!” he said.
If you like the video for UnAmerican, you may also enjoy a video that may have inspired Said The Whale and Johnny Jansen. If cutting hundreds of photos in the kitchen for UnAmerican was tough, then the cutting required for the multi-layered animation in the video for Wave Machines’ The Greatest Escape We Ever Made, released August 3, 2009, must have been an incredible challenge.