The Making of "Hey Now"

Watch the making of London Grammar's "Hey Now" music video and read an exclusive interview with the director.

The making of video for London Grammar's "Hey Now" music video has been released! Check out the amazing work that went into the video below and read an exclusive interview with the video's director, Christopher Ullens.

London Grammar "Hey Now" - MAKING OF from Chris Ullens on Vimeo.

Hi Chris! Congratulations on your amazing work on the “Hey Now” music video, what was the inspiration behind the video?

There are a lot of different elements in there that I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. As a stop-frame animator, I’m always thinking of what would look really good in animation. So I’ve put a lot of these elements into the London Grammar video. I’ve always loved land art, so that is where the idea of a forest at night came from. Also I wanted it to be at night because I’ve always wanted to play around with lights. The last big element in the video is the string art. The string artist on the video is a friend of mine, and as soon as I saw his work, I thought, “my God, I have to animate this!” In terms of themes, I was influenced a lot by Hayao Miyazaki’s anime film, Princess Mononoke. It’s got that natural magic element in it which I really wanted to bring into this video. So bringing all these elements together was a very interesting challenge!

How long was the process, it seems quite painstaking in the behind the scenes video?

We were on set for two weeks and we had about two, three weeks preparation before that and then we had a week to do all the post productions. The delivery date was quite close so we had to move pretty fast, but I think that was good as it forced us to come up with quite practical solutions for everything we wanted to do and to just go ahead and shoot the hell out of it.

It surprised me just how big the stage actually was, it looks so small in the finished video.

Yeah, totally! A big challenge was, to have the lights bouncing around. Those lights aren’t very strong and studio lights are generally pretty strong, so the studio couldn’t be too big, or else the studio lights would drown out the animated lights, and it couldn’t be too small, because we had to have enough room to put all the string in there!

Have you animated anything like this before?

You know a lot of it is quite new. I’ve always wanted to do animations with forests and stuff, I did a music video for Slugabed where we played around with soil, but this is the first time we’ve had the ground actually moving. Basically, this video allowed me to make a lot of my stop-frame animation dreams come true! I’ve wanted to do land art animation for ages, I got to shoot in a forest at night and play with practical light, so I’m really glad I got to play with all these new things!

Roughly how many individual shots, made up the video?

Oh wow! I’ll have to do some maths here. So the video is three minutes, thirty two seconds, which makes two hundred and twelve seconds of footage. And there are twelve frames per second, so it’s two hundred and twelve times twelve! [2,544]. We decided to go for 12fps, as that would give us a real stop-frame feel. A lot of stop-frame  is done in 25fps and that can make it look very real, so the 12fps is a bit more jittery and natural.

The finished "Hey Now" video

And how long did it take to set up each shot?

It could be anywhere from half an hour to two or three hours. The main setup bit at the start was the bit that took the longest. Once we had the main set built, things were a lot smoother and easier!

Is there any sort of narrative to the video?

Yeah, but I wanted it to be very subjective. I wanted it to be something that takes you on a journey and then afterwards everyone can put their own interpretation on what the meaning of the video is. I’ve got my own explanation, which is: two undefined entities meet in the woods, they merge and create this sort of magical reaction and then they vanish again. It’s just sort of a cycle that appears in so many different things – the story of life, the story of love, there are many interpretations. I didn’t want it to be too defined I wanted the viewer to interpret it in their own way.

And of course the result goes perfectly with the track. What was it about the music that made you think this was a good fit?

I really think the images and the track work really well. The track is really enigmatic, it’s got that drum echo and that incredibly deep and beautiful voice, all these things take you somewhere else, but exactly where that somewhere else is, is defined by who you are.

It’s definitely got a very otherworldly feel to it. It kind of reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are.

Oh wow! I’m really glad you said that! That’s a cool thing to be associated with. It does have that sort of fairytale feeling to it. It takes the viewer on a trip and it’s up to you, the viewer, to decide where that trip goes.

I think the video definitely achieved that, and I think the behind the scenes video really brought home the scale of the production.

Yeah, definitely! This is the first time I’ve made a making of video and I’m really glad I did because it gives you another perspective on the whole thing.

Definitely, thanks Chris!

Written by Matthew Francey

22 Apr 2014