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Painting a Watercolor for Rob Thomas (Video)

Creating Animation from Still Paintings

The video for Rob Thomas’ “Ever the Same” is anything but the same old music video. Instead it vibrantly intertwines watercolor animation and live action to create a magical urban environment for Thomas’ crooning.
To reach this end, director Phil Harder once again called on his longtime collaboration partners at Pixel Farm to create the look and feel for the video, combining a myriad of digital, and analog, effects to create an animated watercolor world.
Working with watercolor paintings by LA-based illustrator Greg Ruth, Pixel Farm developed the style of the animation. Harder then developed the concept of Thomas as an observer in this illustrated cityscape, looking out a window at man with a pigeon coop, whose carrier pigeons make connections with various people throughout the city.
Harder and DP Afshin Shahidi shot 24p HD greenscreen footage of Thomas and the other principals, the key props, including the pigeon coop and flocking pigeons, and a stunt woman falling.
After a rough cut by editor Jolynn Garnes of Jagged Edge, Minneapolis, illustrator Greg Ruth made watercolor paintings matching the perspective of the live-action shots. Those illustrations were then sent off to Pixel Farm where they were composited all the elements with the greenscreen in Discreet Fire.
“It was a lot of work just getting the compositing done, with hundreds of layers,” said Pixel Farm senior designer/partner Kurt Angell. “As a straight composite was still pretty video-looking.”
To give it a more organic feel, every other frame of the video was printed out as individual frames onto paper. Pixel Farm took sandpaper and a sponge to each of these paper stills, and then shot each one in sequence with a digital camera and loaded them back into the Fire and extended the piece by 2X to match the original length of the video. The reassembled video was again color corrected in Discreet Lustre to add a more saturated look. Pixel Farm used Apple Shake to stabilize the re-shot images.
The final touch was added by artist Janet Lobberecht, who painted watercolor over the white pigeons and added subtle swirls in the sky and over some of the transitions.
“It comes out looking like something one guy spent a year working on, but we had to crack it out pretty quick but still were able to give it a real nice look and feel,” said Angell.
Rick Fuller, partner at production company Harder Fuller Films, produced the video. Fuller, Harder and Pixel Farm also recently teamed up to create the new video for Hillary Duff, "Beat Of My Heart."

1 Comment

Categories: Creativity, Project/Case study

  • Nicole

    Hello! I would love to purchase and frame one of these storyboard clips from this watercolor animation video. just sentimental value for my home. Who would I contact other than Greg Ruth? Thank you!