Behind the mesmerising illustrated loops for Bombay Bicycle Club

Published:  August 26, 2014
Lucy Waddington

Live music performance continues to offer something that a digital rendition can’t quite capture, and to accentuate this immersive experience is to make it all the more valuable and distinct. English indie rock band, Bombay Bicycle Club, teamed their latest tour with mesmerising visuals formed by the combined efforts of illustrator, Anna Ginsburg and motion designer, Adam Young – inspired by the staggered effects of a nineteenth century zoopraxiscope.

A series of hand-drawn images were made to loop across 12 tracks in a style that was cohesive with LaBoca’s album illustration for the band’s cover art, also inspired by outdated mechanical projections. Following the creation of a BAFTA-winning stop motion music video for Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep’, Ginsburg’s loose and expressive illustrative style was a natural choice for the tour visuals. In collaboration with Ginsburg and Young as a pair, a small team of four illustrators also contributed several thousand images to be used for gaps in loop sequences.



Young explains that, “With such time pressures, the illustrators drew directly into Photoshop using Wacom Graphic Tablets. All drawings were done with the same Photoshop brush and line weight, with careful attention being paid [in an] attempt to make each illustrators work look like they have all been drawn by the same hand. Anna worked specifically on certain loops the required more designing, like the loops in Feel and How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep.”

He continues to note that, “The actual animation process was completed by an even smaller team. The entire show was created in Adobe After Effects and unlike many other projects it was nearly Plug-in free. This was an intentional decision to prevent the show looking ‘effect-y,’ this would have taken away from the hand drawn organic feeling over the show. A lot of time went into developing the templates in which songs could be animated, so that all 7 discs could be used as one screen or each could be used individually.”



Young mentioned to Creative Review that, “You see a lot of shows that have really generic video, with a big LED wall and stock video content that’s vaguely been arranged in time with the music. But I think people are turning their backs on that now, and starting to pay for bespoke content that actually means something relevant to the band and the music, rather than something that can be cheaply purchased off the shelf” – Ginsburg adds, “I don’t think abstract stuff is completely lost, but I think listening is the key, if you’re going to do something abstract make it really lyrically or rhythmically synced to the track. If it’s just random, it’s like wallpaper, or a screensaver – there’s no point.” The final visuals are made all the more powerful by being carefully synced, played live using Timecode, so the music on stage aligns with what the audience can see.

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