David Knight - 10th July 2020

UK rapper (and filmmaker) Wesley Joseph has teamed with director (and former Pixar tech director) Najeeb Tarazi for the video for Ghostin' - and they have applied the videogame aesthetic of Grand Theft Auto to a far more laidback scenario.

In this animated video, a spookily realistic version of Joseph takes his Delorean for a spin - not on the mean streets of 'Los Santos' - but in the quiet suburbs.

Shorn of thrills and spills, this is all about the craft and detail. But it was also created in conditions determined by lockdown: Tarazi animated the whole thing himself, in a videogame engine - a first for this director who is steeped in animation experience. 
 

NAJEEB TARAZI:

The world is kind of an impossible mix of GTA and UK that would never exist elsewhere.

"Wesley came to me with this idea for an animation in the style of [the video game] Grand Theft Auto set in the UK countryside and suburbs, which felt like a perfect fit for the track. We wanted to capture the spooky freedom of driving through suburbs at night, with a sparkling, otherworldly vibe.

"Wesley went to film school and is a great filmmaker himself so it was very fun to collaborate. I would build out the world, light it, place some cameras, then send him stills. He would send back really excellent, precise notes for polishes and adjustments. A lot of our energy went into getting the right feeling for the landscape and hitting Wes's surreal palette of deep blues and oranges, which can also be seen in his recent live-action short film Pandomony - which I recommend everyone check out as well. So it's all part of Wes's 'cinematic universe.'

A lot of our energy went into getting the right feeling for the landscape, hitting Wes's surreal palette of deep blues and oranges.

"Because we were going for a game-y feel, I decided to try animating the video in a game engine, which wound up being enormously fun, especially during the pandemic. I had a little sandbox world I could go make a film in without having to deal with oppressive rendering times.

"This is the first time I've ever made an animated video entirely on my own. In order to make his character, I asked Wes to 3D scan his face using an iPhone app and send it to me. I then worked off of photos to model the rest of his head and a baseball cap that matched his real-life fit. 

"Despite the fact that Deloreans were produced in Northern Ireland, only thirteen right-hand drive models were ever made before the company tanked. Accordingly we decided to keep the road as a left-hand drive road for simplicity, so the world is kind of an impossible mix of GTA and UK that would never exist elsewhere."
 

Credits

DirectorNajeeb Tarazi
AnimatorNajeeb Tarazi
ConceptWesley Joseph
EditorWesley Joseph
EditorNajeeb Tarazi
LabelTransgressive Records

David Knight - 10th July 2020

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