After spending years together as the producer-artist behind the musical duo Ninja Sex Party, Jim Roach and Dan Avidan turned their shared love of older bands (big music, big guitars, and even bigger songs) into a new rock band, Shadow Academy. Their first album releases April 21.
The couple established careers in the music industry. Avidan is the lead singer of the Billboard group Ninja Sex Party and co-host of the Game Grumps YouTube channel, which has over 5.3 million subscribers. Roach is an Emmy Award-winning record producer and songwriter who is finally venturing behind the scenes.
From the start, their goal was to make a big rock record with incredibly heavy songs that could take the paint off the walls as well as songs with lush soundscapes filled with synths, pianos and orchestration. At the start of the pandemic, Roach began sending new music to Avidan to work on mostly to pass the time, and in turn Avidan was working on lyrics and melodies mostly inspired by the classic books he spent his free time. to read. From “Dracula” to “Moby Dick”, many of their song themes were inspired by these well-known tomes.
After writing their first song, “White Whale”, together, the artists knew they were onto something special – and Shadow Academy was born.
Animated music videos soon followed. Simon Macko (known as Shoocharu online) was the sole animator in the music video production; he handled everything including directing, storyboards, editing, animation and character design, with each video taking around 3-4 months from start to finish.
Discover his work on Shadow Academy Once and Nevermore and White Whale:
At Once and never again, Macko’s artistic style was largely an attempt to visualize the song’s “very soft, very simple and extremely emotional” sound. “From the start, it was important to me that the characters in the video be abstract and almost androgynous,” he shares. “I wanted everyone, no matter who they were, to be able to fit into this story. So far my previous animations have been very “cartoonish” so I wanted to make sure people knew it would be something different in tone.
The style on white whale, on the other hand, was inspired by Roach. “He wanted a low-frame, old-school, ‘raw’ style,” notes Macko. “I came up with the idea to make the aspect ratio of the video to be 1.19:1 to convey more of the old and quaint feel of the world in the video. I was very inspired by the short film The old Man and the Sea by Aleksandr Petrov to make the video almost look like it could have been painted.
Both clips were animated with Clip Studio Paint EX. “I used to use Adobe Flash before, but that software is only good for very cartoony animation,” he explains. “I was looking for animation software that would be easy to learn and could easily be used to create a ‘pictorial’ feel to animation, so CSP worked perfectly.”
According to Macko, the biggest challenge on Once and never again was the end. “I think we changed the ending up to four times – all completely different versions. white whale Arguably the biggest challenge was finding a simple and compelling way to animate ocean water. Almost every shot has water in it, and I think every animator knows how hard water is to animate. I ended up using large brushstrokes to simulate movement when the water was calm, then just freehand animated the big wild waves. It took a bit of time to set up.
Dan Sarto is the publisher and editor of Animation World Network.