Video Chats: Sidsel Wittendorff Sørensen on "Daydream/Wetdream/Nightmare" by Saint Motel

Posted by Doug Klinger on August 28, 2013 in Interviews

Staff Post

Sidsel Wittendorff Sørensen

The beautiful and dramatic animated music video for "Daydream/Wetdream/Nightmare" by Saint Motel centers around a Danish fisherman and his wife’s troubled and unfaithful relationship. Director and animator Sidsel Wittendorff Sørensen landed on this narrative after listening to the song and getting images of the sea stuck in her head. We talked to Sidsel about the video, her animation techniques, and collaborating on the technical side of the video with the members of the band.

Doug: How did you get involved with the project?

Sidsel: I was in New York last year, and happened to meet A/J Jackson by chance while looking at the line up at the Mercury Lounge. My friend and I ended up going to the Saint Motel gig later that night, and had a great time. It was great music and a great performance. When I started my master project six months later, I contacted the band again to ask if they were interested in working together, and they were on board right away, so we began developing the video.

Doug: I don't initially think of Danish fisherman when I listen to Saint Motel, but the pairing goes together beautifully in this video. Where did the concept come from? 

Sidsel: Well, from the beginning I wanted to bring Saint Motel somewhere different. The band gave me free reign to think of ideas and plots, so I dove into the song. I listened, and I heard sea gulls and - especially in the nightmare section - got this sense of being under water, with the guitar fingerpicking. After I had this notion I couldn’t shake it, and so this feeling stuck, that the story had to take place at or near the sea. I was researching both visually and reading about sailors and life at sea. During my research process I came across the stories from Fanø, and I read about how the fisherman used to sail out, and how some of the wives, in their husbands absence, would signal to their lover using porcelain dogs. This instantly clicked for me; it fit! The crescendo in the song, the nostalgia and the themes of unrequited love prevalent in the lyrics. I clearly saw the fight scene, at the end of Wetdream piece; how the music builds in strength and ends in a break. How the husband would return home from sea, how we would see him approach the house, how he would discover the lovers and how a fight would break out. That was the beginning and the rest of the narrative folded out from there.

Sidsel Wittendorff Sørensen

Doug: Was Saint Motel involved in the video heavily?

Sidsel: We were in regular contact throughout the process of creating the video. I would send ideas and images and show how the project was developing, and I would get feedback and ideas for changes and improvements. It was a new mode of presentation for the band to venture into, and they showed me a lot of confidence by trusting me to make many choices on their behalves. They were really appreciative and excited about my take on their creation and gave me heaps of support.

Doug: What was the process of incorporating the band into the video? Was that footage shot on green screen?

Sidsel: From the beginning the band and I both thought it was important to include them in the film. We came up with the idea of filming them and manipulating the footage to work with the animated look and for them to be a subconscious presence in the film. The band shot the footage themselves, green screen. They have been in charge of most of their previous videos, and they are pros. I then manipulated it to fit in with the video.

Sidsel Wittendorff Sørensen

The collage of the sea

Doug: What is your animation process? Do you hand draw most of it?

Sidsel: All images were drawn by hand and all backgrounds drawn and painted in ink. The animation and movement itself were created in the traditional way, drawing frame by frame, movement by movement, on paper, and everything is coloured, put together and finished on the computer. It is actually my first hand-drawn animation. I wanted the video to be something new for Saint Motel, but still work with their other visuals. I thought a lot about the Voyeur album cover, with the texture and the analogue feel. I wanted to make sure the video had this also; I couldn’t imagine Saint Motel with a full CG video, so even though I hadn’t animated a full piece by hand before, analogue seemed like the way to go.

Doug: There is an ocean illustration on your flickr that's similar to the video (at the top of the article). Was this used as reference for the project?

Sidsel: This was an image created during the ideation process, where the storyboard and the look was developed. It was actually a key illustration, because it was where much of the look of the video finally fit together and clicked into place. As mentioned above, I was sure that the video had to have an analogue feel to make sense with the band. When I was first listening to the song, and making early experiments, I made this kind of collage of the sea (above), which I thought fit with the mood of the song perfectly. At the time, I was playing around with the idea of maybe making a stop motion video, but via the storyboard and the image above - and lots of other experiments - the final look, which you see now, emerged.


daydream/wetdream/nightmare, saint motel, sidsel wittendorff sørensen, 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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