Toon of the month: Creation Myth

Evolution goes into overdrive in Angela Stempel’s supersonic music video for Celestial Shore.

Chris Robinson

Web exclusive

While the past year has produced some spectacular animated music videos (see my posts on Moving On and Unity), the genre has historically been very erratic. Sometimes the animation is dazzles but the song stinks, or vice versa. A common misstep made by many a young animator is a lack of intimacy or cohesion between image and sound. With some videos, you get the sense that animation and music are strangers, newly met in post-production. Too often, the music seems like it was tossed onto the soundtrack of a pre-existing animation.

Not so with Angela Stempel’s Creation Myth. From a first blast of guitar, the animation jumps right on board like an old friend. And in a sense, they were. Stempel was a fan of the band (Brooklyn-based Celestial Shore) long before she made the video. “I met the band,” says Stempel, “through friends and going to shows in New York where they are based.”

It was one of the band members who initially approached Stempel about making a music video. “It was a very casual,” Stempel recalls. “‘Oh, you should make a video for us.’ I always responded to their music so for me it was an incredible opportunity to illustrate the complexity of their sound through a variety of mediums and experiments.”

Just as Creation Myth has a garage band/lo-fi feel in the vein of the Pixies or Guided by Voices, Stempel’s mix of contemporary and traditional (cut-out) animation techniques gives the video an old-school vibe. “I love the look of real textures, and working through the limitations of a certain technique. The looks of the 2D bits of the film are inspired by traditional cel animation. The cut-out work I made using a series of photographs and textured paper. There are so many possibilities with replacement animation, and it always just looks so good.”

Stempel’s interpretation of the song’s evolution-inspired lyrics is also unique and playful; in fact it almost seems to argue that we’re devolving. “I was inspired by the way people on television always look ‘better’ than in real life,” she notes. “The plot unravels, though, the way it does for nature, and gets out of the protagonist’s control, when he stops wanting to ‘evolve’ any further.”

I don’t know if I’m evolving or devolving, but I do know that Creation Myth is a delirious, heart-pumping, head-shaking fireworks-feast of colour, rhythm, crunchy guitars and dizzying animation.

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