14 May. 2021
By Chris Angel Walker
Ok, this one might be a bit longer, but a lot has happened!
What a year! Well, a bit more than a year now. The ups, the downs! I wouldn’t trade it for anything though. It was ripe for learning.
I don’t even know how it went by so quickly. Before we knew it, a whole year had passed since the last entry. But then again, I think it was like that for many of us.
A ROUGH START
2020 was an odd one for sure. We all remember the news. We thought world war three was about to begin, Corona hit the world, and it was just one weird thing after another. I wouldn’t have been surprised if aliens had invaded us. I think most us would just have asked them to please get in line like the rest of the scandals please!
For me, it started off in a strange way. Well, it started ok actually. We had just released Part One of The Renaissance Series, and it was a massive success. I was still feeling the after effects of 'The Rise of Skywalker' movie though (Come to think of it, maybe that’s what shook the universe out of balance!).
I had just had a tiny and routine operation for something completely unrelated to anything, when I got a massive infection and had to go to the hospital for 9 days. They were threatening me with amputation and who knows what. Needless to say it was as painful as it gets, and I couldn’t walk for almost two months.
Because of this misfortune I got to spend the most hectic part of the pandemic indoors and in bed, so I suppose it was all for the best. I wasn’t about to see anyone anyway, so no risk of catching Corona. Remember at that time we had no idea how bad the pandemic could turn out to be.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
You know what they say. “When all else fails, get on your motorcycle and ride”. Well, ok ok . Nobody says that. Only I say that. …still a good saying though.
That’s kind of what I did. After months of basically just laying in bed and staring at the ceiling, I finally took my first steps, and made my way all the way to the kitchen and started gathering bits and pieces for the next music video.
I’m not even exaggerating. I could barely move, and I figured, by the time I was fully mobile, I wanted to jump on my motorcycle and ride to Copenhagen, which was about a ten-hour ride, including a ferry trip, at my speed.
But before going to Denmark, I needed to complete part 2.
The first video had taken me about 600 work hours to complete.
I had locked myself in the apartment, covered all the windows to prevent sunlight from ruining the shots, and just went for it. It took about 8 weeks with about 12 hours per day (six days a week).
I figured I could do the second part the same way. I had already built many of the props, so it was really just a question of setting things up and supplementing the props.
I made the cutest little suitcases, you wouldn’t believe!
And so there I was, recovering and filming part-two of our music video series. I limped around the apartment while filming and listening to audiobooks. You don’t want to know how many audiobooks I listened to, but it was a lot! I think I have heard every Star Wars book in existence, Philosophy books, history etc etc.. Anything to keep my mind going.
I managed to get the second one done in about the same amount of time, except this time I was working more hours per day and seven days per week.
600 work hours later I was done with part 2, and I could walk again. More importantly, I could RIDE! And so I did!
I got on my trusty war horse (Leia), and rode to Denmark.
I don’t know why I felt I had to get out of Berlin, but part of it was family.
I needed to be around people I could trust.
At this point, Nic was stuck in Italy, Batou was in Spain, and Robin was out of town or something. Either way, I needed to be around family, and so I went to visit my sister in Zealnad, and aunt in Jutland, Denmark.
What a ride! Wow! Riding around the countryside of Denmark is absolutely incredible and freeing. There’s nothing quite like it. I was going to keep riding up north and go to Norway for an even longer ride, but that border closed down, so I decided to stick around at my sister’s place and make part 3 of the series.
MAKING PART 3
Being in such a beautiful place in the summer was incredibly inspiring.
Just the sound of that summer rain hitting the roof during summer nights made everything worth it.
I had brought little Ben with me, just in case. And with the help of my sister and her husband, I started building the film sets.
These were amazing, and enormous. I built an entire island in the living room, I made a desert with real sand, I built a cave, and I was 100% and completely immersed in that universe.
For all intents and purposes, I was there with Ben. It’s a very strange sensation, but I was with him on that journey.
The third part took a bit more work, because of all the sets, so this one ended up taking about 900 hours.
AWARDS N' STUFF
So Here I was, approaching the end of 2020 with a bang! I had just completed three stop motion videos, and avoided dying from Corona and not having to get anything amputated. Win!
I couldn’t really ask for more.
We had been submitting the videos to film awards, figuring that we really had nothing to lose.
I mean, it was the first time we had made anything like this.
Robin had done an amazing job recording and mixing the music, everyone had a part in writing and forming the songs. On this, we stood in a solid place. But making stop motion films out of scraps?! That was a whole new universe for sure.
The storyline for the videos was a collaboration between Robin, Rikke Lindquist, Judith Benke and myself.
Rikke and Judith also helped make many of the props for the first two parts.
So I don’t want to take all the credit, it wouldn’t be anything without them! no doubt about that.
And then it happened; out of the blue we won TWO film awards almost back to back.
That was an incredible feeling. I mean, we had gotten a number of selections, which basically means we were in the running. That in itself is also quite cool, given that the videos were up against thousands of entries. But to WIN something? I never thought that would happen. But it did. Twice!
A DIVE INTO THE UNKNOWN
I spent the rest of the year riding. I needed it!
I was exhausted beyond words. I mean it was incredible fun, and as far as my mind was concerned, I had just been on an adventure through jungles, deserts and oceans to get to a little Island in the middle of nowhere.
By the way, that Island is a real place. If you look on the map that Ben holds up, there are real coordinates to where it is. I’m not kidding. All the films are riddled with easter eggs that nobody will probably ever find, but I had to have fun with it.
Since each video goes chronologically back in time, I knew that Part 4 would be the telling of Ben before he became a robot.
This is the Same Ben as the Ben from the previous album/story (Nowhereland), where he is a pirate, except in Part 4, we see him live through the centuries until meeting his fate.
I figured that a fun way to do this would be to animate by hand.
I talked to a few people who knew about this, and they basically laughed at me.
I also knew that I wanted to animate it with watercolors, because I love the look, so I wrote a bunch of animators on facebook and youtube so that I could learn how to do it.
Long story short: animating manually with watercolors isn’t really supposed to be possible. They laughed. They laughed very hard.
Not only is it close to impossible to animate with watercolors, learning how to animate is not just something you do in a month. They were right. It was RIDICULOUSLY difficult.
The problem with animating with watercolor is that with traditional hand-animation you need to take the animated tracings and transfer them to celluloid transparents. Basically thin plastic sheets. You can do this with acrylics, because it sticks, but watercolor just runs. There is no way.
The only way to use watercolors is to paint on thick paper, which isn’t transparent, and thus useless for animation.
These days people just do it in a computer, but I wanted to do it by hand.
So I had to figure out a way to move my tracing paper animations on to something I could animate. My solution was to use old school carbon paper. Like the kind people used to use to fill out forms, and like they probably still use in Germany, because Germany.
It WORKED! It took forever, but hey, I had my audiobook subscription, so I managed.
So after learning the basics, and figuring out a way to use real life drawings, I went to Edinburgh for Christmas, almost was stuck there forever because of Corona stuff, and then started the project in Berlin, full-time after the holidays.
It took 1200 work hours in total, and now it’s DONE!!!!
This was 100% not only the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but also the dumbest. And I have jumped out of airplanes an am a veteran of two wars, so it takes a lot to say that.
THE RELEASE OF PART 4
Haha, are you still here? Incredible! Well here we are, and ready to release it.
I finished it at the end of April, and then we started submitting it to festivals.
The official public release is set for the 4th of June.
And guess what!, in the time that it has been out at festivals, it WON an award! This is the third award for the series. This is pure insanity! It made Semi Finalist on a different festival, and has three other selections.
I couldn’t stop laughing when I found out. I mean, who would have thought. I should send it to everyone who said it couldn’t be done. I would think they might think it’s not technically up to standard …maybe. But hey, it’s my best, and I gave it my all from the deepest recesses of my heart. I really hope you enjoy it!
I NEED A LITTLE BREAK
I’m going to take a month off to relax, but when I get back to it, I will finish part 5, which will be the final part. I hope to finish by the end of the year. If this happens it will have taken two years in total.
In the end, we will connect all five films into one long film with spoken interludes where Ben thinks out aloud. It's gonna be awesome!
When all is done, I will write his diary through his journey, which we can hopefully turn into audiobooks. We’ll see. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!