Budapest-based animation production studio Umbrella has created the new animated music video for British band Architects’ new single, Meteor, in a record time of just 5 weeks. Meteor is an apocalyptic single from Architects’ new album For Those That Wish to Exist. The deeply philosophical, unique and powerful music video is widely celebrated by fans and press alike.
Brighton-based British metalcore band Architects released their new album For Those That Wish To Exist at the end of February, immediately claiming the UK number 1 spot on the album charts.
The 4-minute-long animated music video for one of the album’s singles, Meteor, was created by a team of young Hungarian animators, helmed by British director Jeb Hardwick – a regular collaborator with the Architects – in a record time of just five weeks. The powerful, apocalyptic video has had over half a million views on YouTube. It has been widely acclaimed in the press, and fans praised the video as “a masterpiece” that “deserve[s] an Oscar and the rest of the awards”.
Jeb Hardwick had a live action video in mind for Meteor. Increased Covid restrictions in the UK, however, made it clear that the shoot would be close to impossible. “The band’s drummer Dan Searle suggested to me that we could take the narrative we had developed together and tell it through the medium of animation. “At first, I was apprehensive as there were a lot of moving parts to my storyboard and we only had a month to deliver the video”, said Hardwick. He contacted the team of Budapest-based animation studio Umbrella because he had previously seen the music video Re, created by Umbrella for Nils Frahm. “The process of both rewriting the piece to work as an animation whilst finding the right collaborators to realise the video was one of the greatest challenges of my career so far, but I was fortunate enough to find the post-production studio Umbrella, who after some preliminary discussions I knew I could trust in helping me bring this story to life”, he added.
Umbrella however, declined the opportunity at first. Initially, they were given only four weeks from start to finish for a project that would normally take at least two months. No matter how much they loved the concept they felt it would be impossible. Hardwick insisted on working with them and came back giving them an extra week. Producer Máté Barbalics and art director Péter Bátory decided to go for it, despite the still unrealistic time frame. Weeks of non-stop work followed for the animators in the team of twenty.
They began the work based on the storyboard and a couple of reference pictures, conferring continuously with the director – who was hundreds of miles away the entire time – through video calls. Their objective was to render the apocalyptic story of Meteor in a very human, hand-painted form which reflects the roughness of classic animations. The Hungarian team had to figure out how to realize the director’s concept by mixing a number of different animation techniques with a powerful result – and on time.
Due to the lack of time, the team’s only option was to use 3D techniques. The basis of the video was made in 3D, followed by a complex post-production process which resulted in the video looking hand-painted, rough, yet very detailed. Finally, effects that characterize analogue films were applied: film noise, small grains of dirt, lens distortion, and a reduced number of frames. These intentional faults helped create the vivid and authentic visual world of the original concept. “Whilst it was a necessity of the time restraints that the piece was computer animated, I was keen to make the piece feel as organic and handmade as possible to lend the video a dreamy, ambiguous feeling. This took a lot of experimentation and man-hours to dial in a workflow that we could implement in such a short turnaround, but I couldn’t be more proud of what we managed to achieve,” explained Hardwick.
“Me and the band’s drummer Dan Searle came up with a story that primarily served to satirise the indifference to our impending ecological disaster, how people would rather be comfortable or oblivious than be a beacon of change in the world. It’s something we’re all guilty of to varying degrees, but we wanted this piece to be a ‘call to arms’, and hopefully shake some people up. I wanted to explore the theme of apathy and what it takes us to make us rise above that instinct and take notice of what’s around us, and [decide] whether we will accept our responsibilities, and have our revelations, before it’s too late.” Jeb Hardwick
Dan Searle explained: “This album was me looking at our inability to change to a way of life that would sustain the human race and save the planet,” Searle said.
I wanted to look in the mirror and ask ourselves the question of what are we going to do, as opposed to trying to point the finger at politicians. Change has to start on a personal level. The world has developed a culture of wanting someone else to deal with it when we need to take our own responsibility. It has to start there.
Vocalist Sam Carter wrote on Twitter:
Thank you for every lovely comment about Meteor it honestly means the world to us. We pushed ourselves so much creatively on this album and I love seeing you connect with the singles so much!
Umbrella’s multi-award winning animation team consists of professional artists as well as Art Directors, Designers and Animation Directors. Ranging from Stop Motion all the way through Cell Animation and 3D, Umbrella provides world-class services in every aspect of Animation. The studio has collaborated with a number of international stars including Martin Garrix, Chet Faker, and Nils Frahm.