Animator and illustrator Gareth Axford has created the latest video for the folk band Nova's Basement. Stop Hurting appears to be about a break-up, but rather than depict this literally the Mid Wales-based animator came up with his own narrative featuring an everyday sort of fellow who embarks on a journey out to a lighthouse, and is followed everywhere by a little bird.
"The line in the song ‘The lighthouse is turning’ particularly stuck in my mind," explains Axford. "The story of the man and the bird stems from an idea for a short I had years ago, about a punk who is inexplicably followed by a bird, no matter where he goes, this bird is there, staring at him. I sweetened that old idea up a bit and made it so the man is helping the bird, although he doesn’t actually acknowledge the little guy until the last scene."
First he roughed out the movement in Flash, before drawing his characters and settings using Photoshop as it produces better line quality than the animation software. For the 3D elements he used Blender and the compositing was done in After Effects. He borrowed a copy of Psunami to achieve the waves on the sea for the final shots.
Like the storyline, the character design harks back to some of Axford's earlier ideas - he's been animating for over 10 years. "It’s a style I kind of abandoned for years, but I’ve been toying with it again recently," he says. "The band mentioned they liked Leunig’s style, but obviously I didn’t want to rip him off, but I thought my old wobbly lines, big mouths and tiny eyes would work well, particularly with such a limited palette."
The palette was something that came from the band themselves. They wanted a video for their song that was heartbreaking, melancholy and done in black and white. Axford came up with the chalkboard-style aesthetic and was given full latitude to follow his own ideas from there on in. He dabbles in illustration too, and is a member of the Mighty Pencil collective.