If you've ever spent more hours than is strictly wise cultivating your own urban sprawl in the game SimCity (opens in new tab), you'll experience a familiar thrill when watching buildings pop out of the ground and roads shoot off towards the horizon in City Planning, animation duo Onionskin (opens in new tab)'s new video for the latest track from Japanese indie group Doit Science (opens in new tab).
Yet according to Toshikazu Tamura - who formed Onionskin with fellow Tokyo University of the Arts student Ai Sugaya - the '90s PC-gaming phenomenon wasn’t on the map.
"It's very interesting: we had never played SimCity until we heard the web comments saying that it was like it," Tamura reveals. "If we did it again, we would add a natural disaster scene like in the game."
The song's lyrics reference airfields, baseball fields, pedestrian crossings and the Tokyo Tower. "Therefore we planned a city that syncs with the rhythm and lyrics of the song," Tamura says.
"We didn't make a storyboard exactly. We made many kinds of buildings, and we placed them in a completed drawing of the city in Illustrator. Then we opened it in After Effects and thought about how a city moved to music."
Tamura credits the colourful and whimsical world of Katamari Damacy (opens in new tab) as an influence, as well as the 1983 console game Antarctic Adventure (opens in new tab). Accordingly, the landscape is neither flat nor 3D, but deliberately '2.5D': "We didn't want to make something like existing motion graphic and 3D movies. We think that the expression of 2.5D, different from both 2D and 3D, is unique and kawaii (opens in new tab)."
This showcase was originally published in Computer Arts (opens in new tab) issue 204.