When we at Inklish are animating a music video, we face unique challenges we don’t face in traditional storytelling. Usually we look to use animation to accurately and completely tell a story, to make meaning explicit and to reinforce key messages. But music tells a complex and asymmetric story both heavily imbued with meaning by the artist while also being a vessel for personal meaning on the part of the listener. How do you animate that?
Scientific studies have attempted to analyse and document our positive response to music. There is even a name for it, frisson (aesthetic chills), which describes the familiar physiological effect of goosebumps. A study into the phenomenon showed that ‘musical changes’ e.g. volume changes or unexpected harmonies helped to create this effect. This is something that you can reinforce as an animator. You can use colour, a scene shift, or some other visual shift to emphasise this change. However, you need to be careful to ensure you’re not artificially creating this phenomenon i.e. it must be there in the music already. Music is often deeply personal and as an animator you have to stay true to the intent of the artist while also providing space for the listener to connect with the music and personalise its meaning.
At Inklish we spend a lot of time working with the musician to understand and accurately convey the story within their song. At the same time, however, we work with them to not ‘overthink’ and therefore be overly prescriptive in their storytelling. You need to provide space (as well as opportunity) for a listener to have an emotional response to a song.
Check out some of our work on music videos to see if you agree: