Made up of around 1,000 hand-painted images, the music video for Ben Talmi's new song, "Picture Perfect Day," is a perfect example of how the producer and composer wanted every sound on his new album to come from an organic source. "No digital synths, emulators or samples," Talmi tells Creators.
"I've had the idea of a music video made entirely from oil paintings since I was a little kid and I tried and failed over and over again to make it a reality until I stumbled upon the unbelievable work of Zach Johnson," explains Talmi. "The whole thing was this incredible waiting process of shooting footage, waiting an entire year without seeing anything, and then one day receiving the finished product which I had dreamed about for years."
For the video artist Johnson used a hand-painted rotoscoping technique, where he works directly on the frames that were shot. He notes that Richard Linklater's Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly (read about how they did it for Adult Swim series, Dream Corp LLC) were what initially set in him down this creative path a few years ago. The difference being that, rather than digitally trace over the footage, Johnson paints with oil.
The evocative and melancholy tone of "Picture Perfect Day" seemed like the ideal fit for Johnson's technique. So Johnson went to NYC and shot Talmi over three-to-four days, capturing the musician as he went about his day-to-day tasks—recording in the studio, traveling around Brooklyn, playing music. This allowed Johnson to "keep it a bit more loose and impressionistic."
"For this one I just really didn't want a storyline or any real sense of narrative," notes Johnson. "I wanted to really lean into the atmosphere of the music and paintings, to create a blurred, random, sometimes bustling, sometimes desolate city as this kind of neon soaked New York backdrop for a guy making his way through life, through a day."
Johnson then spent months painting over the pictures, which totaled 1,031 individual paintings. These were then scanned and sequenced frame by frame to the original edit of the video he'd previously put together.
The result is a stunning array of images that capture the longing for this seemingly impeccable day. The illustrative aesthetic of the rotoscoping turning NYC into an unreal, illusory place of fleeting moments.
"Instead of the traditional 24 frames per second of film, I shot this at 6fps, which gives the motion a kind of weird, stuttering feel." Johnson notes. "Wong Kar-wai has used this step-printing method a few times in his films, and I remember I'd just seen Chungking Express for the first time. I loved the disorienting effect he achieved with those moments, how time sort of seemed to become unglued, and I thought it'd work particularly well with this kind of rotoscope animation because it gives the eye slightly more time to adjust and register each frame as a full painting. Well, and doing six paintings per second is less work than doing 24 paintings per second."
Check out the video below.
You can catch Ben Talmi at his upcoming show on July 7, 2017 in Brooklyn, NY at Baby's All Right w/ Yoke Lore. See more from the producer and musician at his website. See more of Zach Johnson work at his website here.