David Knight - 1st Nov 2013

The dark intensity of the Mercury-nominated Savages' Marshal Dear has a video to do it justice - an animation in black and white from Gergely Wootsch, who creates an impressionistic, nightmarish landscape of war - the mechanics, the destruction and the material and human cost.

It's a piece that owes much to the work of Kurt Vonnegut - author of Slaughterhouse Five who wrote about the terrible impact of the bombing of Dresden at the end of World War 2, and producer Steve Smith at Beakus says that Savages guitarist Gemma Thompson had a clear concept in mind for the video, based on Vonnegut's classic novel, with a devastating aerial bombardment of a city running backwards, all the way to the armaments factory where the bombs were built. 

"Gemma’s concept and her references helped a great deal to set the visual tone of the piece," says Steve. "It was alluding to something old and Gergely thought the imagery should draw inspiration from the archive images of the great war we are all familiar with. Something distant, yet familiar. He was also keen on investigating the potential of the narrative and they agreed it would be interesting to focus on two scenes: a sequence of the bombing raid but more importantly, introduce, even if briefly, a singular character placed in the factory that would become the focus of the piece.

"Gergely went to a Savages gig before production and realised the raw energy the band communicated was essential to communicate in the clip too. He tried to keep this in mind all the way through the production. Gemma was really generous and open-minded about ideas which made Gergely feel he was given all the creative freedom he needed.

"He wanted to create a drawn piece initially, however, whilst storyboarding he grew concerned the camera moves he imagined would be difficult to create in 2D. So he started experimenting to create a convincing 3D look that would work well together with drawn 2D textures. Most assets were 3D, composited in After Effects with 2D boils and textures. He also built a few scenes in 3D that had a 2D illustration camera-projected onto them: this was to be able to render accurate shadows. Working in 3D also allowed Gergely to populate scenes with only a few assets, making it possible to deliver the piece in just 8 weeks..

"Unusually for animation, Gergely decided to invite happy accidents - despite having a shot breakdown and a storyboard he never actually locked the scene lengths down. He decided to create all scenes in isolation and treat them as separate images - usually with a 10 second handle. This allowed him to overlay and edit scenes freely, improvising timing."

This is Gergely's first music video - his recent short The Hungry Corpse, which played at the London Animation Festival this week, is similarly dark and immersive, and has scooped three awards to date. 

Watch 'Savages 'Marshal Dear' by Gergely Wootsch' here


DirectorGergely Wootsch
ProducerSteve Smith
Production CompanyBeakus
Director's RepresentationSteve Smith @ Beakus
CommissionerBig Dipper Productions
Other creditsGergely Wootsch (Designer/Animator) Laura Thomas (Production Manager) Rosanna Wan (Assistant Animator)

David Knight - 1st Nov 2013

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