This project took nearly three years to complete. Fran asked me what visuals we could do for his song, Noel Pancho, short of flying to DR and shooting a video there. There was no money at the time, and I’d been dying to do a rotoscope project, so I pitched it, Fran and Arc liked the idea, and I dove in.
At the time I was completely ignorant of what I was taking on. I shot Fran’s performance in June 2014, and at the time I was planning to solo the whole thing on a Wacom Bamboo tablet. It wasn’t until November 2014 that I realized how fucked I was, so I spent 2 months experimenting and finding a system that I was confident would work. In December I bought an ancient Cintiq monitor that was a game-changer. In March, after spending about half my time working and the other half fretting about how the hell I would get it done, I sent an SOS to Pat McNamara, who jumped in and brought a ton of new life to the project. Pat's first job was to tackle the block coloring of the first shot, which runs about 30 seconds. This amounted to about 400 frames of coloring inside the lines, skin, beard, hair and lips. The magnificent bastard did it and asked for more. Akhil Bhatt joined up soon after and we had a little factory going. I would still be coloring in Fran’s face on the first shot if it weren’t for these guys and I can’t thank them enough for burning their eyes out with me.
A little bit of technical stuff here: every bit of the performance is animated frame by frame in Photoshop, first the outlines, then the color, then shadows and highlights, and composited in After Effects over the various backgrounds, rendered, and finely edited in an NLE as there was some slipping of sync with the varying of frame rates. Even with all that software, the process was decidedly low-tech.
The song itself is a coming-of-age tale, but set against the backdrop of a young man’s visit to the land of his ancestors, to which he is both deeply rooted and alien, a truly analogous journey to that of discovering who you are as a teen. Fran’s story is both profoundly personal and stunningly universal, I am very excited to have played a role in telling it.