Hornet directing team Mixtape Club recently created a beautiful and haunting world for the track "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2", My Morning Jacket's first music video off their new album, "Evil Urges".
Mixtape Club, comprised of Chris Smith, Jesse Casey and Michelle Higa, has a reputation for turning out innovative, character-driven videos for bands like TV on the Radio, J Dilla and Yeasayer. Jim James, lead singer of My Morning Jacket, approached the collective after seeing their previous work. Given their surreal aesthetic and affinity for music (as evidenced by their name), Mixtape Club was a natural fit for My Morning Jacket's ethereal melody.
The video, set deep in a verdant jungle on a dark night, stars a character named Jasper, a furry, timid creature with gigantic eyes. Jasper carries around a lantern inhabited by his only friend, a firefly whose light helps him navigate the treetops. When he gets caught off guard by a roaming pack of jungle beasts, Jasper accidentally drops his lantern, letting his firefly loose. He travels through the jungle in pursuit of his friend. The journey takes him down a river, through a cave, and up a ravine, into a beautiful, otherworldly meadow illuminated by a constellation of fireflies. The video offers a haunting, lonely quality with a touch of fairy tale sweetness.
Mixtape Club drew from an array of real-life inspirations such as the nocturnal tarsier, the BBC's "Planet Earth" documentary series, and foliage plucked from the streets of New York City. Another major source of inspiration was the work of Russian animator Yuri Norstein, whose work explores very personal, fairy tale narratives. James happened to be a big fan of Norstein's "Hedgehog in the Fog," which helped him hop on board with Mixtape Club's vision from the get-go.
Given the nighttime setting, one of the biggest challenges was lighting - plunging Jasper into darkness while also highlighting the jungle's lush foliage. Rather than render the jungle into separate dark and light sections, Mixtape Club built the entire jungle in full detail, as if it were broad daylight. They then darkened and brightened the background as needed.
Equally challenging was giving the video its hand-painted quality.
"We wanted to make a video where at any frame you could pause it and it could look like a hand painted frame," says Smith. In order to achieve this effect, Mixtape Club built the jungle world entirely from elements painted digitally in Photoshop. "It was incredibly time-consuming, but it allowed us to use anything as a starting point in the process, from photos we took to sketches we made." says Casey.