It might be just me, but I never see music videos anymore. Ever since MTV took the music out, it seems to me that the art of music videos is on serious life support. I could be wrong though, since I just mentioned that I don’t see them anymore (Let me know if there are some videos I should see). Lucky for me, I stumbled on Kanye’s “Heartless” music video last night. To my surprise and enjoyment, the video was all animation. Check out the music video here:
“Heartless”/ Kanye West/ dir. Hype Williams
Immediately I was impressed by the art style and animation that Hype Williams went for. He used a rotoscope style of animation which is basically filming in live action, then having animators draw over the film after. The best example of rotoscoping is in the Star Wars movies during the lightsaber battles (Darth and Luke actually have fake sabers during the filming, but in post-production animators go back and draw over the fake sabers to create the lightsaber effect). In “Heartless”, they just drew over everything.
I also had a sense that the video was an homage to something I had seen before. And after checking Kanye’s blog, it was true, the video was inspired by Ralph Bakashi’s American Pop, which was an animated movie back in the 80’s (I will rewatch it and give my take later) and some of the scenes and backgrounds in that movie were used as inspiration for this music video. This made me appreciate the music video even more.
And lastly, I did appreciate the Jetsons portraits in the backgrounds near the end.
Now I dig Kanye’s work as a producer, his work as an MC is hit and miss (he can be good in one song, then sound like the worst MC of all time in the next), I could be without the Kanye “celebrity” personality, but in terms of his choices in art direction, they have always been sound choices to me (esp. the Graduation album cover by Takashi Murakami).
PS: I love his new album 808s & Heartbreak, but please Kanye, you have to realize you can’t do any of those songs live. Your performance on SNL proves it.