New Directors: ZEUGL
Graphic design duo, ZEUGL get animated with thier latest promo for Amarillo. Taken from shots 156.
A few years ago Noé Beaucardet, frontman of French band Amarillo, happened upon an animated clip by graphic design duo, ZEUGL. The piece was only 45 seconds long and was created for another band called Caandides, but it was enough to give the singer a hunch that one day he’d like to work with the artists.
The opportunity came when Amarillo needed a promo for their single, Breaches, and ZEUGL took charge of the direction. The result was considered so good by Beaucardet that it’s become the central theme for the band’s marketing strategy.
ZEUGL partners Lolita Do Peso Diogo and Gabriel Wéber explain how they adapted their stop-motion style to the Amarillo promo: “We had to enhance and improve the technique, and make sure it was relevant to the song. Besides its theme, the music also imposed its rhythm and structure, which we obviously took into account when we were writing the story.”
The video sees a collection of small toys, including plastic soldiers, paratroopers, a rubber dinosaur and various sea creatures, trot across the screen in front of a mix of colourful background displays. The band also makes an appearance in the same unique style. Despite the initial randomness of it all, ZEUGL maintain there is a deeper meaning there: “Breaches tackles frustrated love and a greed for escape. We fragmented a very simple narration, an adventurer looking for what is hinted to be love, into many ironic scenes depicted through standard and concrete elements. Our purpose was to make a fantasy come true using everyday objects.”
Whether it makes sense on an emotional level or not, the video’s visual style is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s iconic Sledgehammer directed by Stephen R. Johnson. When it came to the technique and process for the stop-motion piece, the duo went back to basics to avoid the temptation for any computer trickery.
“Basically, it is a stop-motion [film] made on a scanner,” reveal the pair. “We put the different items on the glass, pressed ‘scan’, moved them a bit, pressed ‘scan’ again and so on… We really wanted to make everything by hand and not add any effects on the computer in order to respect our conceptual approach.”
Utilising materials such as plasticine, glitter, glue and table lamps for lighting effects, the artists’ organic approach results in a rugged and raw style. The video is over three minutes long, so it’s surprising that it only took the majority of a month to make. The first phase of the process was spent shopping for toys that would be flat enough to be scanned but, as the duo reveals, there were less utilitarian criteria taken into acount, too: “We tried to have several yellow items in reference to the band’s name [the word ‘amarillo’ is Spanish for yellow]. The main ‘character’, the yellow paratrooper, was chosen carefully and the footballs were included because one of the band members is a football fan.”
Although currently Paris-based, the ZEUGL duo studied graphic design in Montreuil, France and also spent time at Central Saint Martins in London. It was during their years of study that they began to collaborate with bands, creating designs for album covers, flyers and posters for gigs before progressing to live projections at shows, which is where they got their first taste of working with animation.
The pathway into music videos was a natural next step, and since the release of Breaches the artists have completed a second video for Amarillo. Currently unsigned, they are now working on projects for other bands that are set for release later this year.
Asked about the biggest challenge on Breaches, they say it was “sitting in the dark for more than two weeks to move toys and bits of cotton wool on a scanner.” The project required much “patience and dexterity”. They haven’t been put off by the laborious process of their first major project, however.
“In terms of creativity, it’s very rewarding to be able to work on both animated and still media for the same project, therefore we will keep on making videos along with ‘branding’ for bands whenever we get the chance