Rob Ulitski - 8th Dec 2021

Luke McDonnell directs an marvellous animated promo for rock legends Deep Purple's cover of an early rock 'n roll track, Rockin' Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu. It's sick. 

Following the trials and tribulations of a self-playing Steinway piano, the video follows the piano's path to rockstar fame, fortune and everything else, spanning a multitude of different locations and vignettes, and building to a sensory extravaganza. 

Purple's cover of the 1950's song is full of bluesy vigour, and McDonnell and his team have captured this energy in every frame of the visual. McDonnell's lovely, characterful illustrations are beautifully animated by Simon Jeffery and his fellow animators, and the breakneck momentum of the narrative continues from first to last. A brilliant job.

"On hearing the piano-led track - originally written by Huey Smith back in 1950 - it's [Purple keyboardist] Don Airey’s performance which made for an obvious focal point for our animation," explains McDonnell. "Rather than watch Huey go on a journey with said Steinway, why not allow the piano to develop into its own character and lead us through the trial and tribulations, highs and lows of stardom?" 

McDonnell says that his initial inspiration came from the work of director/artist/animator Robert Valley. "I've always found his distorted Aeon Flux-stylised drawings delicious. He leans towards the dark side of storytelling which in turn lends itself to a rock band of this calibre. Married with some humour I think we found the right balance for Rockin’ Pneumonia."

McDonnell drew the artwork in Photoshop, with a Cintiq tablet and sent it on to Jeffery. "Simon worked tirelessly to make each image come to life," says McDonnell. "With a tight deadline it was a run and gun production. Unlike anything I’ve created before, the story developed organically while the artwork was produced. 

"Friday was always a very exciting end to the week as a new ten seconds or so would be tagged onto our ever-growing video. I loved seeing it come to life."


DirectorLuke Mcdonnell
Production CompanySkyfire 76
Production CompanyChiba Film
Creative DirectorDan Gibling
Executive ProducerMatt Clark
CommissionerMax Vaccaro
Lead AnimatorSimon Jeffery
AnimatorRich Leshone
AnimatorLawrence Wheeler
Other creditsMIDI Tech: Corin Schenks

Rob Ulitski - 8th Dec 2021

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