If you haven’t seen it already, you need to watch it right now:
Aminé – “Caroline” (Aminénation version)
And if you’re looking for a reference, check out the original here. Now we know what you’re thinking. Who on earth has time to do something like this?! Well, you’re in luck. We sat down with Tanziba Awal, the creator of this masterpiece, for an exclusive interview on how long it took, what the process was like, and if she would ever do something like this again.
Meet The Creator: Tanziba Awal
Umusic: What got you into stop-motion animation in the first place?
Tanziba: In high school, I wanted to become an animator in general. I wanted to do 3D animation because that was the most popular form of animation as it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. But after graduating from OCAD University (Ontario College of Art and Design) with a Bachelors of Animation, I got back into stop-motion. I actually only touched on stop-motion in my first and last year at OCAD. I realized that stop-motion was perfect for me because I’ve been told by a lot of people that I’m really good with my hands, and I enjoy physically touching something and building something. Being able to look at the end product and appreciate that I made it from scratch was what I always loved. The fact that you can see the textures and the fact that you built that from your own imagination – I feel like that’s why I love it so much. I am still learning 3D animation, just because of a greater potential for work experience, but I’ll always have stop-motion on the side because that’s my number one passion.
U: Walk us through the process of how it began:
T: Usually when you create a stop-motion animation, you have to think of the storyline and draw up everything and think up the story boards, but since I was just replicating the music video, most of my work was already done for me. I just had to replicate scene for scene. Basically the process started with me drawing up a plan for the puppets to use in the stop-motion, and I estimated some measurements for the sets. I actually built two sets: the diner, and the inside of the car. After a couple of weeks we had built everything and then used the rest of the time to animate.
U: How long did the entire process actually take? How long did it take to even animate a scene?
T: Well originally, animations like this take quite a bit of time, but since I was only given a month to do it I had to build the sets within the first three weeks. I then used the last week to animate and edit the video. It was very time consuming, but still a fun experience. And that’s why I like stop-motion, because I get to work with my hands a lot. During the first three weeks I was sculpting the heads, and sewing their clothes which was the fun part. I got a bunch of my friends and family to help out with building the sets, so it was just a fun experience overall.
U: How many people did you have helping you out?
T: I hired an assistant who I’ve known for a long time. I got my boyfriend to help me as well, three of our other friends, my mom was helping with the clothes, and another to help build the sets. So including me, it was about 7 people in total.
U: How did you build the puppets themselves and all the outfits for them?
T: The insides of the puppets are these wrapped around pieces of wire. There’s a piece of wire that goes through the middle of the head and then through the arms, the torso, and finally the legs. What holds the wires together is an epoxy putty placed on the chest, arms, and hips to hold all the appendages together. From there we added more epoxy putty to the forearms so that when I bent the arms, the wire wouldn’t go right through and bend in odd places. After that, I was estimating the measurements for the clothes. I based the clothes sizing on the skeleton of the puppet already assembled, and the body thickness itself was also a complete estimation. We cut the fabric, sewed it together, and put it over the skeleton of the puppet. Once each outfit was in place, we put some Sculpey over the arms and legs to act as skin for each puppet. The last step was to attach the head, and then fix the hands and feet.
U: How were you able to recreate Aminé’s Pulp Fiction shirt?
T: There’s this iron-on, printable paper you can buy at practically any craft store or even at Walmart. I measured out how big the image would have to be, printed it onto the special paper, and then once I ironed it onto the shirt it was perfect. It didn’t pop off or anything.
U: Can you comment on the number of frames used to create this?
T: I originally planned the video to be shot 24 frames/second, and that’s how we ended up animating it initially. I cut the music video into sections based on the set that each shot took place in. So we labeled shots as Diner 1, Diner 2, and Diner 3 and then when we went to animate each shot, we would scroll through the original video frame for frame, and move the puppets based on how the person was posed in that original frame. Once we played it back, we found that our animation at 17 frames/second actually looked better cause it wasn’t too fast and jittery or too slow. It was just the right speed for the animation.
U: What was the most challenging scene to put together?
T: The final shot. Mind you when we started to animate, we were thinking that the car set would just be them sitting in the car. Thinking it would be easy, we decided to start with that. However, it was the complete opposite of what we thought. Aminé and his two friends in the car are all collectively moving, so it was hard to keep track of who was doing what pose. They were all moving towards the camera and since I had built the puppets the way that I had, I didn’t have a proper mechanism to hold them up. So that being said, I had to have my boyfriend hold the puppets up near the camera – take a shot – have him move the puppet slightly – and then take another shot. That was just another attribute as to why it was the hardest scene to shoot, but that was the entire process.
U: Was there an easiest scene?
T: The easiest scene was definitely the first shot, where it’s just Aminé and his friend’s backs towards the camera. That was the easiest shot because not only did I not have to do lip syncing or any vigorous arm movements, I really only had to move their heads and rapidly shoot frames. That was the easiest scene for sure.
U: How many times did you actually listen to Aminé’s track “Caroline” throughout this whole experience?
T: Well, when I first heard the song, I was like “oh, okay this is interesting” and I only had to hear it a couple times after when I would show it to my assistant or my friends who were helping out. When it came time to edit though, especially when it comes to animated clips, you have to find where the lips sync up with the sound. So I had to skim through the song over and over again to see which movements would match with the song. And I think that’s the case with every animator who has to lip-sync, or match audio to animation, where it can get a bit annoying after a while.
U: Now that you’ve undergone this experience, would you ever want to do something similar with music videos again?
T: Yeah, absolutely I would want to try that again. Especially since after I finished it, I was reminded of those times in the 80’s and 90’s when there was just stop-motion everywhere. I think I would want to wait until I’m out of school this time, but I would definitely love to do more.
U: Would you rather create your own stop-motion animation, or replicate already established storylines?
T: I feel like if you’re creating something from scratch, it wouldn’t necessarily be harder, but it would probably take more time. Since it’s coming from my own imagination it would be easier in the sense that certain things wouldn’t have to be perfect or certain scenes wouldn’t have to look identical in order to replicate the original storyline scenes. Again, if you’re creating something from scratch it would likely take longer to do, but it would be just as fun regardless.
And there you have it! Keep your eyes open for a behind the scenes look at how Tanziba & her team recreated Aminé’s “Caroline” music video. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @umusic.