Music videos are big business. With the explosive popularity of MTV and other video based music channels as well as the more recent rise of YouTube and Vevo being used as an excellent way to find, experience and explore new music. If you don’t have an awesome video for your top tracks you are missing a trick.

But with huge production values, creating a winning music video is not always straightforward. One production method that is becoming a popular way to make explosive music videos is animation. Although this method has been used since the birth of music based video production, with new technology making it easier than ever to ignited high quality footage it is continuing to grow in popularity.

Join us in taking a look at the top tips for creating an animated music video.

Before we take a look at some of the finer details and themes of developing a killer animated music video, we need to establish the very basics – how will you actually create them?

Of course one option in this situation is to work alongside a professional animation studio, however this is certainly not the cheapest option and is unlikely to quench the creative thirst of most musicians.

Alternatively using cheap or free animation software and tools will help you create an awesome video at a much more manageable price, as well as allowing your creative juices to flow. Some tools that are well established within this space includes GoAnimate, which offers high-quality animation production within both free and premium versions;

Explee offers a slightly different but engaging option for creating animation around a music video, although primarily used for explainer videos it would equally apply to the lyrics of the song in an engaging way; and for those looking for something a little more advance iStopMotion is an excellent tool for creating stop motion videos.

Software such as Apple Motion or Adobe After Effects can also make producing your own animation a relatively simple and definitely doable task.

One of the biggest reasons why music videos are so useful to artists is their ability to provoke or further provoke the emotions that the song is meant to portray. Using animation can further demonstrate this emotional element of the music. This can either be done in pure animation or alternatively as a hybrid with animation and a human element.

One excellent example of this is the animation used in the Maccabees music video for No Kind Words, where neon lighting turns what could be a very bland video of two friends talking into an engaging interaction. By using a strong storyboard around two friends exchanging conversation, the Maccabees have really supported and boosted the emotions that are ignited within the music and lyrics.

Another extraordinary application of animation in provoking emotion is that used by the Arctic Monkeys in their video for Do I Wanna Know, this is especially provocative in the opening minutes, where the very simple line drawings make you focus solely on the lyrics of the song.

Artistically the most exciting part of using animation is it limitlessness. Unlike traditional music videos where you may be stunted in your creative application by the realms of the possible or indeed by the budget set for production, animation allows you to open your mind to endless possibilities in terms of the storyline and how that is told.

This is probably the most leveraged benefit of animation that is utilised in music videos, with scenarios rarely being within the realms of the achievable. Two excellent and popular examples of pushing the boundaries when it comes to animated music videos is this one from Queens Of The Stone Age – Go With The Flow and MGMT – Time To Pretend. As you can tell from both videos by producing a visual impact they have managed to engage their audience further.

If you disconnect from the music space for a moment and think about animation it is likely to conjure up images of cartoons such as The Simpsons, Family Guy of The Flintstones. Animation has always been used to generate a light hearted, entertaining and sometimes comedic aspect in life. This can and has been applied well into the music video space, take for example the well know song by Daft Punk – One More Time, which was actually created as part of the soundtrack for the film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem.

Using a light-hearted approach to animation here means that the video increases it appeal both to those that are fans of the band and also those that enjoy that anime style of animation.

Animation and cartoons have always had a place in some way, shape or form in popular culture. Using this tool in promoting your music means you can tap into another element of pop culture beyond the music itself. This is shown well in the Daft Punk anime video highlighted in the previous point, where the group have channeled entire culture with a huge following.

Another brilliant example of a band leveraging pop culture is the video produced by The White Stripes for their song Fell In Love With a Girl. In the video, they use the children’s toy Lego to inspire a fun, colourful video around their music, which went on to become one of the best renowned music video of all time.

The risks of making a poor-quality representation of your music, of course, can be mitigated by seeking professional support in developing your video. This is easily achieved by working with an animation studio, which will help you understand what is achievable and the sort of costs that may be involved in creating an animated music video. If working directly with an animation studio, it is a good idea to review some of their previous work as they will usually have a unique style.

Arguably the most famous and innovative band to have used popular and quality animation as their main differentiator is the Gorillaz. Created by English comic book artist Jamie Hewlett, the band have had many international hits with their unique animations taking centre stage in their videos. Check out one of the Gorillaz most famous examples:

In conclusion, it is clear that the use of animation can be applied very successfully in creating an awesome music video. Depending on how you apply it, the use of the tool can provoke emotion, make people smile, put you in tune with popular culture or create a huge visual impact that can wow viewers. It also allows you to go above and beyond what is possible in a normal music video that just includes the human element, providing a truly limitless representation of your music.

Frankie Caplan is an animator interested in applying animation to art and business projects. She is especially excited to make animation for creative industries. You can find her writing on the production of animated explainer at Pigeon Studio.


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