TOKiMONSTA – “Clean Slate” / Toki’s Monstas Animated Interactive Music Video (w/ Director & Artist Interviews)

In the brightly-colored music video for TOKiMONSTA‘s “Clean Slate”, featuring Gavin Turek, adorable creatures galore get beamed down from outerspace as well as give you control over placing their sticky behinds.

This HTML5 and Javascript-driven sticker book features and artwork by Overture and interactive directorial skills by fourclops ::). Here, they share with REDEFINE some of the ins and outs of their collaboration and creative process.


fourclops ::)
(Directors)

fourclops ::) are an incredible duo consisting of Jeff Greco and Eli Stonberg, who create interactive music videos for unique web-browsing experiences.

Their work for MNDR’s “C.L.U.B.” takes information from your Facebook feeds and integrates it seamlessly into a music video footage.

Overture
(Animators)

A two-person animation, illustration, and live performance unit comprised of Jason and Aya Brown, Overture use intuitive and improvisational collaborative processes to “reach creative places neither could arrive at on their own.”

This dreamy, jiggling piece entitled “Mr. Sandman” features music by The Kleenrz.

 



“I think music videos will only become more engaging and interactive. I think the concept of a MV being only limited to video format will also be a thing of the past.” - TOKiMONSTA

 

fourclops ::)
(Directors)

Overture
(Animators)

Toki’s Monstas is obviously a play off of TOKiMONSTA’s name. How was the entire piece conceptualized, and what is the idea behind it?

Eli Stonberg of fourclops: The idea of a sticker book music video has been something that Jeff and I have been kicking around for years. We had previously made an interactive coloring book music video for the band Au Revoir Simone and felt like this would be a great follow-up.

Jeff Greco of fourclops: We love the idea of collaborating with the viewer to create a creative piece that they can then keep and share. Traditionally, music videos are about directors interpreting the musician’s work; now the viewer can interpret, play and create along with us.

Jason & Aya Brown of Overture: The idea was already pretty formed when fourclops brought it to us, but we did do some of our own fleshing-out to create a background for developing the monstas.

A floral/fungal bio-spaceship wandering the universe finds a hospitable planet and sends Toki and Gavin down to feel it out and call the wide variety of creatures housed within the ship to come populate the land.

We knew there were going to be three locations in the video, so we came up with lists of creatures and plants found in these types of locations and took elements from existing creatures to create familiar but alien forms that could live on the planet.

 

With so many people involved, what was the workflow like? How long did the project take?

Eli Stonberg: The project went from January to March. We were able to work simultaneously on many of the elements and then put them all together in the end. One of the cool aspects of collaborating with so many people is that our individual choices inspired each other. For instance, Overture had begun their sticker artwork before our stylist Ellie Carey came on board, so she was able to design the wardrobe in watercolor style that would fit with the monstas. And conversely, one of the last things that Overture designed was the instruments that the monstas have in the end of the video. They modeled the squid monsta’s instrument based on the instrument that Ellie made for TOKiMONSTA.

Jeff Greco: Sometimes these projects can be very sequential, but like Eli said, it was really helpful to be able to do so much work in parallel. One of the first things we completed was a proof of concept sticker book demo, and I was able to start building off of that before the actual video portion had even been shot.

Jason & Aya Brown: Eli and Jeff shared with us TOKiMONSTA’s song, “Clean Slate”, along with their sticker book treatment, and we went and designed a bunch of creatures. We all looked over them, picked out 27, and then got to working on the animated frames. There was enough time between when we designed the monstas and their instruments and when the video was being shot, so Elaine Carey, the physical costume and instrument designer, could play off the aesthetic we were working with. We did the frames with the instruments after the shoot so we were able to then draw inspiration from Elaine’s work to design the strange shapes of the different instruments. It was lovely to see such a nice creative back-and-forth happen.

I think the labor on our end took about a month, with little bits and pieces added and tweaked later on.

 

What kind of programming was involved? Were there difficulties between conceptualization and execution of the idea?

Jeff Greco: This video was primarily built in HTML5 and Javascript, with a little server-side code to help with storing and sharing viewer’s sticker book creations. One aspect we’re particularly excited about is our integration with Twitter’s new Cards functionality — when a viewer shares a link to one of their creations, the actual image will appear in their followers’ timelines. There’s a lot of potential there for rich experiences in Twitter.

Our goal is always to create something that feels really fresh and new — there’s never an instruction manual for what we’re building so there’s a lot of potential for headache, but this project didn’t have too many bumps in the technological road. Keeping all the monstas in sync with the video we shot proved a little tricky.

Jason & Aya Brown: Fortunately, we had the luxury of just designing the characters, drawing the frames for the character movements, and demonstrating how long each frame ought to be held. We only had to hand over drawings and leave all of the heavy lifting to fourclops.

 

This “music video” possesses very exciting implications for the future. What expectations, if any, do you have for this realm of artistic practice? Are there any projects similar to this one that have stuck out in your mind?

Jeff Greco: My only expectation is that projects will continue to break out of traditional molds in new and surprising ways. For over thirty years, music videos had to be 4:3 audio/visual tracks under five minutes that MTV could rotate through their lineup. Now they can be experiences that utilize the full range of immersive technology available. Watch for collaborative experiences, long-form experiences, location-based experiences… the interactive video “Do Not Touch” for Light Light’s “Kilo” by Moniker is a great example of showing how the web can turn a video into a super-fun collaborative experience.

Eli Stonberg: Chris Milk and Vincent Morisset are the early pioneers of the genre that I look up to. If anyone is interested in checking out more interactive videos, 2Pause has a great curated channel. It’s an exciting time because so few interactive music videos have been made, so there’s a lot of new territory to explore. I expect to see more and more interactive videos pop up over time. As it stands, labels are a bit hesitant to try new things, but I’m optimistic.

Jason & Aya Brown: It was very exciting for us to work on a project that involved such advanced programming! We have for a long while been looking for ways to make our own work (animation) less static and certainly see this kind of interactivity as a threshold to what we want to accomplish. Either at home or in a performance, enabling the audience to get deeper into a piece and enrich it through their own decisions and involvement would be great.

 

TOKiMONSTA – “Clean Slate” (Toki’s Monstas) Music Video Credits

Director: fourclops ::)
Artwork by: Overture
Executive Producer: Jack Richardson
Producer: Judy Craig
Director of Photography: Tarin Anderson
Director of Technology: Jeff Greco
Editor / Compositor: Andrew Hakim
Asst. Editor / Colorist: Eli Stonberg
Stylist / Art Director: Elie Carey
1st AC: Ian Barbella
Gaffer: Patrick Hubbard
Electric: Steve Mansour
Key Grip: Rex Kenney
Grip: Nick Lancaster
Hair / Make Up: Fenex
Still Photographer: Alexandra Brown
Directors Assistant: Elliot O’Dea
Production Assistant: Dan Meyerowitz, Katy Cain, Leah Stone
Intern: Megan Niquette
Special Thanks: Chuck Schwarzbeck

Production Company: The Masses
Director’s Agency: United Talent Agency
Record Label: Ultra Music

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Vivian Hua is the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE magazine, as well as a master of globetrotting for free and evading traditional 9-to-5 work schedules. She enjoys observing human idiosyncrasies perhaps more than anything and is a magnet for homeless people (a joy) and bug bites of all types (absolutely terrible). Marshmallows – while not really food – are one of her favorite foods, especially if they are freezered, stale, or fire-toasted. She doesn’t want to space travel, really, which is an unpopular view these days. Her design work, astrological chart, and other crap can be seen at www.inallthings-patterns.net.

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