Video Chats: David Wilson on "Out Of The Black" by Royal Blood

Posted by Doug Klinger on February 9, 2015 in Interviews

Staff Post

Last week, director David Wilson gave us the first mind-blowing music video of 2015 with the release of “Out Of The Black” by Royal Blood, co-directed by Superjail! creator Christy Karacas. The half animated, half live action video is packed full of over the top violence that is equal parts fun and gory. With David directing the live action portions, and Christy taking the animated parts, we were curious how this video came together, which is why we're stoked that David answered a few of our questions about the video, as well as gave us an exclusive look at the video’s animatic.

IMVDb: When I listen to this song, I don't immediately think of an alien bunny mascot wreaking havoc on a gas station, but somehow this idea fits perfectly. Where did the concept for this video originate?

David: The origin of the idea came from wanting to work with Christy. The piece of work that got me introduced to Christy was the Superjail! pilot, ‘Bunny Love’ that sees a whole load of the Superjail! inmates dressed as the Easter Bunny. So, I guess that’s pretty unoriginal as starting points go, but it leant itself to being a catalyst to getting my brain whirring. In development I went through a series of ideas about what other characters the mascots could be. At one point they were going to be baseball mascots, but it just didn’t seem right. What I loved about the bunny is that it came into the store and stole chocolate. That’s an easy narrative to understand and get, but also throws you off the scent of it being extraterrestrial.

The music leant itself to the the brutality of fight sequences, and that’s something that Christy’s a master at (although, we recently discussed how that’s almost leant him to being pigeon-holed as ‘the insane graphically violent animated fight sequence guy’), so I’m very glad I managed to catch Christy before he became absolutely fed up of decapitating people!

Alien designs by Christy Karacas

IMVDb: How did you and Christy meet? What was the process like co-directing this video together?

David: We met via Twitter. I think I started tweeting about my excitement for a new series of Superjail!. It’s my favourite animation show.

Christy tweeted back and a dialogue started from there. Christy’s based in New York and I’m in Los Angeles, meaning that throughout the whole production process we’d never actually physically met. I'm glad to say that on the hand-in deadline I flew out to NYC as a treat to myself for finishing the piece, and had a few glasses of whisky together in some kind of delirious celebration of what we’d created together.

IMVDb: The pacing of this video is really fantastic, all the action seems to take place at the perfect point within the song. When coming up with an idea for a video, do you have a sense of how it will be paced from the beginning, or does that start to materialize later in production?

David: I absolutely pace the video out from the word go. It’s something that’s very important to me. I will never hand a treatment in if I’m not absolutely certain that the idea will hold for the duration of the track. Communicating what slots in where is of vital importance. It’s a very tricky business: music videos need to be visually striking, but they also need to evolve and grow as you’re watching them. The track was especially wonderful to work with. It was very dynamic which leant itself beautifully to the chapters of the narrative.

IMVDb: You shared with us this fantastic animatic that was used in the production of the video. Can you give us some background on how the animatic was created and what purpose it served in making this video?

David: Sure. The animatic is a way of communicating this chapter of the narrative.

I created the live-action animatic as soon as I could, knowing that it would allow Christy to start on his ‘boards sooner rather than later. Although there’s always a bit of wiggle room when shooting live-action, I tried my very best to stick to these cues that the animatic laid out.

It also brought the insane reality on out heads of how many shots I wanted to achieve in one night. I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever worked. In my opinion there was always something I wanted to improve in the majority of the shots. However, we had to work with the mentality of getting each shot in one or two takes in order to plough through the list. I have Michael Berlucchi (Director of Photography) to thank for really rolling with the speed at which I wanted to shoot. He utilised natural light a lot, but also had a very efficient lighting setup in the exterior of the gas station, that was quick to set up, and functional during shooting.

There’d always be something we were missing: whether that’s having a spotlight that could have acted as a helicopter searchlight, to the fact that we had squibs rigged in the cigarette packets so that the bunny actually would have tried to shoot the gas station attendant in the shop. But those things had to fall to the wayside in order to prioritize the bigger picture, and the animatic also allowed us all to see very clearly what that was.

John Lyke as the Bunny Mascot

IMVDb: You have a significant background in animation, and you've made some of our favorite music videos that combine live action and animation together. Is there something about mixing animation and live action that particularly interests or excites you?

David: Absolutely. I love combining the two. It’s something that's deeply engrained in my brain from various children’s films that I grew up watching, including the 1978 film The Water Babies. Although it’s not the best film in the world, it’s one that deeply captured my imagination. The film starts in live action, with a tone that’s relatable and establishes strong emotional connections. The lead character, a boy called Tom, gets wrongly accused of steeling, and ends up being chased into a river. I remember being deeply upset by this, and the live action parts seemed terrifying and harsh. However, when he lands in the water we transition to a fantastical animated world that’s friendly and knows nothing of the world above the water’s surface. It’s a wonderful combination, allowing the viewer to feel a deep connection with Tom no matter what medium he was created in. That’s what I’ve wanted to create, both with my Tame Impala "Mind Mischief" video, and then, in a more fun way, this piece. It’s a way of creating films that I feel really celebrates the possibilities of film making, and also leads to an explosion of creative ideas.

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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