The Old Salts • Mall Store Santa (Official Video)
Stop Motion Animation • Hand drawn Animation • Set Design • Character Design
We worked for two months solid to develop the story, characters and sets, and hole-up in our studio to shoot and edit this music video for our pals The Old Salts. We learned a lot of new techniques, had a ton of laughs, some cries, and ended up with work we’re very proud of. Thanks to the Old Salts for trusting us with complete creative control - to make our most ambitious project to date (and first music video!). We want to do this kind of work for always.
At first passive listen, this song is lively - we thought ‘what a nice singalong’. Second time around and a look at the lyrics, we heard sadness and anger - an adult reflecting on his innocence as a child with an alcoholic dad and an absent mom. Realizing how strange or hard a time was well after it has happened connected with us. We wanted to animate that difficult and common feeling in a subtle way, while focusing on the imagination and excitement of a kid at Christmas. We let the visuals show the past, the lyrics explain the present, and interspersed scenes of the band playing throughout to break up the snippets of the kid’s life. The Old Salts wanted to include weird/funny/psychedelic elements, especially for the final build of the song. If you watch the video a few times over, you’ll pick up on small oddities throughout. We love weird so we were happy to oblige.
We experimented with a new material - air dry clay. We stumbled upon this lightweight spongy stuff by accident, and decided to model all the characters and some of of the props out of it. The downside of the clay is as soon as the package is opened, there’s about five minutes to mold something before it’s solid forever. The upside is it’s extremely light. In past projects, we’ve struggled to make character heads that didn’t weigh down the body, or arms covered in plasticine that didn’t squish over time. What we ended up loving most about this clay is the wear and cracks it showed once we started to move the characters. This led us to make one of our favourite creative decisions - to intentionally show the imperfections. Throughout the video, you’ll notice breaks at the characters joints and the wire underneath. You’ll also see rough set/prop edges, magnets on the characters feet, blobs of glue here and there, and velcro holding things together. Stop motion is a medium that lends well to imperfections so we leaned into them real good.
We bought a linear dolly and two (amazing) used Nikon lenses to try some new techniques - focus pulls, panning, and depth of field close ups. The lenses we had up until now couldn’t capture the closeups and sharpness we wanted for such a character-focused project. Panning using a manual dolly is tricky - taking turns ‘go-go gadgeting’ our arms and holding the camera tested our super strong muscles. We googled many equipment hacks because we’re not millionaires (yet) and had to make-do with a lot of homemade tricks. Each new attempt required another, but now we’re pros! Not at all, but it was fun and now we know something new and we’ll keep trying in future projects.
Camera: Canon 70D
Lenses: Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 (best lens ever), Nikkor 35mm f/2.8
Dolly: YaeCCC 32"/80cm DSLR Camera Track Dolly Slider
Programs used: Dragonframe, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Suite
Behind the scenes: