Animation always had close links with sound and music. Synchronism provides a means of rich formal experimentations. It is particularly striking in the field of the music video where the progression of the music itself often determines the progression, the rhythm, and the style of the film.

Figure 1. Cover image of Crystal Clear.

It is in this perspective that Crystal Clear (2019) was made. The Danish band Moon Loves Honey contacted me because of several abstract animation films I had previously directed for music groups, such as Silent & Sweet (2013) for Stuck in the Sound or Always (2016) for Yuli. They wanted an animation that could, at the same time, tell a simple story and use abstract synchronism for some more psychedelic sequences.

Crystal Clear’s narrative was constructed following the cutting of the song strictly, linking the rising music power with the rising tension of the story, and using recurring visual motifs in each chorus. The very first thing I did when I started working on this music video was cutting the song in sections: instrumental introduction / first verse / chorus / second verse, and so on. This gave me a solid guideline to build the film on. Each section corresponded to a new step in the story as well as a new visual atmosphere.

The first stage of work – developed jointly by the band and I – consisted in a detailed synopsis and storyboard, based on the timing of the song. Moon Loves Honey only had a general idea of the atmosphere they wanted to convey. In particular, they wanted something dreamy, with flowing movements. I came up with the concept of the galactic sequence, so I proposed a first version of the storyboard (based a lot on the lyrics). We, then, worked on it together for several days, adding shots, changing details of rhythm, until all of us were convinced with the results.

Figure 2. A shot from Crystal Clear.

We also exchanged ideas on the graphic style and colors of the animation for a few days. Those were chosen carefully so that they would fit with the whole aesthetic of the band, which is in a palette of purple, blue, and pink (see Figure 2).

Once the 2D animation was finalized, a large part of digital animation and editing allowed me to refine the rhythmic links between the song and the images. Indeed, I usually animate short 2D loops of motifs which I multiply and transform with digital effects. In this particular case, I created a kaleidoscopic sequence entirely based on the spinning crystal and the closing eyes (from 1:10 to 1:37), each change of shot or variation of the digital effects being precisely in rhythm with the drums.

The progression of the song completely dictated most of the animation rhythm. For example, the galactic sequence starts at 1:45, which is the exact moment when the drums stop, so to allow a suspended moment. In this sequence, the shots are longer than before, with slow zoom-ins. When the drums start again at 2:19, the animation becomes more energetic, with the bursting bubbles and the flowing water. The movements are in line with the power of the instruments. These few examples are representative of how I worked to link image and sound in Crystal Clear.

The full music video.

The band gave me a lot of liberty while directing this music video. They came to me in the first place because my job was in line with what they were looking for, and after explaining what they wanted, they trusted me completely. There was very little animation or editing fix, thanks to the precision of the work we did upstream. It was a great teamwork experience.

Rosalie Loncin is a film director and animator. In particular, she directs animated films for plays and music videos. In 2014, she worked on Le repas dominical by Céline Devaux, which was selected for the Cannes festival and awarded at the César 2016. In 2015, she graduated from ENSAD (Paris). In 2016, she collaborated again with Céline Devaux on Gros Chagrin, which was awarded at Venice festival. She is currently working on her first produced film, ‘La Vraie Vie’ (CNC Innovation Support Fund rewriting’s grant).