Video Chats: Jordan Bruner on 'Tourniquet' by Hem

Posted by Doug Klinger on February 22, 2013 in Interviews

Staff Post

Jordan Bruner

Here at IMVDb, we don't throw around terms like "charming" for a music video very often, but Jordan Bruner's video for “Tourniquet” by Hem is charming. Animated by Jordan and Greg Lytle, and utilizing hand-made puppets, the video tells the story of an artist fox who moves to the city after a run in with some meaner foxes. We talked to Jordan about the video, the animation process, and the compassions to Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Doug: How did you get involved with the project and where did the idea came from?

Jordan: The band contacted me last spring. They had seen some of my other music videos and animations that I had worked on, and they wanted me to direct a music video for their upcoming album. They gave me the album to listen to and sort of had a couple ideas for songs that they wanted music videos made for. There was one song at the very end - “Tourniquet” - that I really liked and an idea popped into my head when I first listened to it. They were into it and from there I gave them a synopsis of what I wanted to create.

Doug: Was there something about that song particularly that drew you to it?

Jordan: "Tourniquet," at least the way I interpreted it, is about being beaten down after living in the city for a long time, and it was about Brooklyn, which is great because that's where I live. I like to work with animal imagery a lot, and I had this idea of all these animals walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and taking over an abandoned city. That was the original idea, and it went from there.

Jordan Bruner

Doug: The way the city is depicted, would you say it's negative?

Jordan: I don't think it's totally negative. I was trying to show a progression of animals adapting some more human-like characteristics. Trying on clothes and talking on bluetooths and cellphones and going to art openings. So on the one hand the city offers creative types a refuge from the wilderness where some jerks might knock over your art project, but then on the other hand there is this other jerk who screams on a bluetooth and sometimes there are horses smoking crack on the street. And then sometimes in the city you might drink too much and become a stripper, but then on the other hand you could work on your art projects all night and people will actually see them and appreciate them. So there are advantages to and disadvantages to the wilderness and the city. Hopefully the fox can split his time between both in the future.

Doug: Unnatural, maybe?

Jordan: Yes. I don’t think people or animals are meant to glued to their phones and computers all day. Not too many people would disagree with that.

Jordan Bruner

Animator Greg Lytle

Doug: Given the charm that exists in the video and obviously the main characters being foxes, there have been a lot of comparison to Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Do you have a reaction to those comparisons?

Jordan: It's kind of weird, because I wasn't even really thinking about that at all. Actually I wanted them to be coyotes, but it turns out that foxes are way more fun to draw than coyotes. Right before I started the video, I was camping in the woods and there were all these coyotes howling at the moon. When we informed the man at the campsite that we heard coyotes howling all night long, he informed us that what we had heard were loons, not coyotes. There are so many animal calls that one does not learn in school. So basically the star of the video should have been a loon. But it's not a bad comparison. I love Wes Anderson.

Doug: You mentioned having a lot of freedom to work on the video. Was that complete freedom? How was the band involved as far as the concept and with the idea?

Jordan: I started with storyboards and put together an animatic based on the concept, sent that the band and from there we bounced more ideas back and forth. From there I started making all the artwork and we started animating. After that initial process, I would send them updates periodically, and the feedback was usually very positive.

Jordan Bruner

Doug: What about the technical process of the video and the animation? How did that process break down?

Jordan: It started with creating all the artwork, character designs and paintings and doing some animation tests. We spent a good amount of time learning how to refine assembling the puppets. Greg Lytle helped a lot with this, and animated the puppets on an animation stand using a green screen. I would import the animation into After Effects, key everything out and composite.

Doug: What's the scale of everything? Is everything pretty small?

Jordan: The puppets are all about maybe a foot tall. The animation stand is 24” x 46”.

Doug: I'm assuming they survived the process. Will they live on? What do you have planned for the characters?

Jordan: The puppets do live on. Right now they are hanging out in a box in my studio, but it would be fun to have an art show with them, and make mechanical armatures for them so they can move in real life.

Doug: Just hanging out?

Jordan: Yeah, just hanging out. Most of them are fine. Some of them got a little bit ripped up, there was a bit of stripping in the video. We had to refigure their heads sometimes too because sometimes they're facing forwards and sometimes they smile or frown.

hem, jordan bruner, tourniquet, video chats

Doug Klinger is the co-founder/content director of IMVDb and watches more music videos than anyone on earth. You can find him on twitter at @doug_klinger.

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