Patrick Sean Gibson Interview
Patrick Sean Gibson is an illustrator, graphic designer and director from the San Francisco Bay Area. Together with director Luke Lasley, he works under the creative moniker BOREDOM. We caught up with Patrick to chat about animating in Procreate, shooting on an old Star Wars set and their latest music video for No Vacation.
Patrick drawing animation frame number 187. Photograph by Joshua Michael Diaz
Who is BOREDOM?
We both work creative jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Luke works as a First Assistant Camera in the film industry and is a young legend in the game. I, myself, have been working as an Illustrator / Graphic Designer for the last 11 years and I operate a small, independent studio, about a football field away from the San Francisco Bay.
Together we’ve done work for clients ranging from Live Nation, Peroni, SFMOMA, and LinkedIn to musicians like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Metallica, Leon Bridges, Toryo y Moi, and Haim.
In 2017, Luke and I decided to combine our joint love of filmmaking and design into the two-headed beast that became BOREDOM and it’s been a fantastically-fulfilling nightmare ever since!
30 second animated sequence from BOREDOMS latest video for No Vacation.
How did you get into making music videos?
Well, officially, I got into making music videos in 2015 when my friends in the band Hot Flash Heat Wave asked me if I would direct a music video for “Gutter Girl”, the breakout single off their first LP. I asked Luke to shoot the music video, he was down, so we made a “fun-in-the-sun”, sort of California inspired boy band music video that was shot on Super 8mm film. This was the first time either of us had “officially” made something for a band. Basically, that video was the primordial ooze that eventually evolved into the partnership of BOREDOM.
"I WAS MAKING EXPERIMENTAL FILMS AND SKATE VIDEOS WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND ALSO LATER WHEN I WAS IN ART SCHOOL."
But, unofficially, I was making experimental films and skate videos when I was in high school and also later when I was in art school. Making films has always been an interest of mine, but has always sort of been on the side. Fun-fact, the first piece of film I ever made was a fan video of Andrew Reynolds skateboarding. I remixed an old skate part of his (411VM, Issue #22) that I downloaded off of Kazaa. The part originally had no music set to it, only the sounds of him skating, so it was perfect to work with. I cut it to Biggie’s verse in the track “Notorious Thugs”. I was 13. Can’t beat that, people!
Is there a deliberate creative philosophy that drives you to combine animation with live action footage in your videos?
There isn’t necessarily a deeply conceptual reason as to why we’ve utilized animation in conjunction with live action footage, it’s sort of just naturally evolved into becoming a unique aspect of our work that has helped set us apart from the crowd. It started as me just wanting to learn about animation and wanting to try my first stab at it and it’s grown into becoming a BOREDOM staple.
But that being said, the ethos behind BOREDOM is to always push our own limits and go outside of our comfort zone and do things a little differently each time we take on a project. So in that notion, I don’t think every future video we make will have animation, it’s just been a common thread within the last three music videos we’ve made.
But that said, it’s been a wild ride working with animation and I’m proud of the work. Outside of our BOREDOM projects, I’m actually super excited to bring animation into my own personal practice and offer it to my clients as well. I’m still really new to the medium and am thirsty for more.
Days is your second video for No Vacation. Did this make the process smoother or allow you to explore ideas that you might have otherwise deemed too risky?
Yeah, the first one we made was for their hit song “Yam Yam”, which we shot at 32Ten Studios in San Rafael and was produced by Little Moving Pictures. That was an amazing set to work on. 32Ten Studios is an old Industrial Light & Magic building where they shot a lot of Star Wars and Indiana Jones practical effects. So the same cyclorama wall we shot the Yam Yam video on is the same cyclorama wall where they shot Luke & Leia riding speeder bikes in Return of The Jedi. So rad! I love it there.
But yeah, through the Yam Yam music video project we got to know No Vacation really well and they sort of went from being our clients to becoming our friends. That evolution of our relationship made the Days music video working process really seamless to navigate.
What was your process for developing the concept for Days?
I sort of tend to look at these music videos like design projects and assess not only what the band wants out of it, but also what I want out of it too and I reverse engineer from there. I usually think about the mediums I want to play with before I think about the concept itself (in this video we used 10 different mediums ranging from UHD Video, VHS, and Super 8mm film to Xerox & hand drawn animation and a 35mm Lomokino).
After the mediums are decided upon, I then take on the conceptualization stage with a fan-like mentality and ask myself: How can I best translate this song into a visual? Transforming music into a defined visual is such an abstract process and there’s sort of no right or wrong way to do it. But I’ve found that there’s always an educated perspective to create from and you need to rely heavily on that perspective, as well as your creative intuition.
"TRANSFORMING MUSIC INTO A DEFINED VISUAL IS SUCH AN ABSTRACT PROCESS AND THERE’S SORT OF NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO DO IT."
For Days, because I really wanted to push the differing amount of mediums we used to capture the band, that decision influenced my idea to break the video into these completely distinct and aesthetic-heavy sections to better organize the mediums into place. I then defined the “world” of each section and by doing so it told me what the look and feel of the worlds should be and what mediums needed to be utilized to match those feelings.
In my opinion, this process is very similar to how a designer thinks in the branding process. So having that work experience helps a lot. That said, at some point I decided that I wanted to work with each of the band members individually and spotlight them into singular sections.
At the end, I brought them all back together for a 90’s inspired, live performance jam sesh. We shot the performance in an abandoned warehouse because I was infatuated with mimicking the feeling of this warehouse set I saw in an old Primus music video. I wanted to invoke that 90’s nostalgia we all long for. Luke and our location scout found the perfect warehouse and I’m just so, so glad it worked out!
How involved did the band get?
They’re pretty amazing to work with honestly. They gave me free-reign to make what I want to make and are usually pretty onboard with the vast majority of my ideas. I think they just realize how dedicated we get on these projects and it stokes them out and keeps them feeling confident knowing that their music is in extremely good hands.
Pre-production sketches & notes.
"THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE FOR THE DAYS ANIMATION IS THAT I CHANGED MY OVERALL WORKING PROCESS FROM WORKING ON PAPER TO WORKING ON AN IPAD."
How was your animation process different in Days to previous videos?
Well the major difference for the Days animation is that I changed my overall working process from working on paper to working on an iPad. I drew everything in Procreate and did some minor work in Photoshop.
But even though it was all done digitally, I found that when it comes to working in animation I sort of eventually drift into the same working headspace no matter what medium I’m using to create with. The headspace of animating with watercolor paint on Yam Yam, to the headspace of working with pens and markers in our second video we made for Hot Flash Heat Wave, “Raindrop”, it all just feels the same to me. I don’t think I would have expected that if you asked me before.
Can you take us through the process you used (called rotoscoping) to create the animated sequences in Days.
Of course, here’s the run down… It all starts with the idea, of which I’ll usually end up drawing as a very rough sketch in storyboard format. I then run it by the Director of Photography, the multi-talented Joseph R. Barrett. Together, we would make sure we had all we needed to get the shot.
Once we captured the image, the highly-skilled and wizardly Editor of “Days”, Anders Ericsson, would import the clip into Adobe Premiere. From there he would convert the clip from it’s native frame rate of 24 frames per second into a clip that plays at 8 frames a second. This would be the frame rate at which the animation plays for this project, meaning every second of screentime there are 8 separate drawings being shown in sequential order on screen.
He would then make some color grading adjustments to translate the colored footage into black and white with a good amount of contrast, sharpening, and adjusted levels to make the image I draw very clear looking and in focus. These images then get labeled, imported in Photoshop and exported as a layered PSD file to be used as references for each frame.
I then import the PSD into Procreate on the iPad. Now I’ve got all my drawing reference photographs in Procreate and it’s just a matter of time for me to take the time and draw every frame. I usually set the reference image around 80% opacity and sort of half trace it and half implement some expressive brush strokes.
When I finish all the drawings for a clip, the Procreate file gets exported as PSD file and I would hop on my laptop, reverse the layer order in Photoshop and export all the frames into an organized and labeled folder for Anders He would then take that folder, import it all into Premiere, add on top the paper textures (supplied by TGTS!) and sequence all the animated frames in a linear format.
Then it’s all about just moving the clip around and finding the place in the timeline of where it should live and how it how it will interact with other animated clips. Wow, that was a mouthful and apologies to those who I put to sleep.
The finished clip after exporting and sequencing in Adobe Premiere
You used our Rusty Nib brushes pretty heavily for the animation sequences. Were there any specific brushes or effects you leaned on heavily?
The Push Pin Pen, Bold Engraver Single, Copier Pen, and Fat Grungy were all in heavy rotation. I also used some from brushes from Stipple Studio, like the Sharpie Sparse Fill brush. The effects I used were Distress Press and Halftone Zine Machine on the title card screen designs. Lots of True Grit love on this project!
I also used the new Infinite Pulp paper texture templates to add a little bit of analogue texture to the animation sequence.
"I CAN WORK A LOT QUICKER AND THERE’S THIS HUGE ELEMENT OF IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION."
What were the benefits of switching to digital? Had anything held you back from doing this previously? Were there any downsides or unexpected benefits?
Well the obvious benefits include saving money on art supplies, not having to constantly clean up my art studio, I can work a lot quicker and there’s this huge element of immediate gratification. The ability to instantly play back the frames you just animated and make quick revisions is priceless. Another huge plus was eliminating the frame scanning process and the motion capture based frame alignment process that Luke and I developed. That saved a lot of time.
The downside of working digitally is probably my eyes. My poor, poor eyeballs… Staring at an iPad for copious amounts of time is pretty harsh and probably isn’t doing me any favors.
In terms of what held me back from working digitally, if I’m being honest, it was my own ego. It may sound dumb or naive, but I used to think that if it wasn’t made on paper, or that if something physical or tactile wasn’t left behind after creating your artwork, than it wasn’t “real art” and it didn’t have a soul, so-to-speak.But thinking about that mindset now, it’s just feels toxic and I find it to be a conceptually flawed and close-minded perspective. At some point, very unexpectedly, my thoughts on the matter just naturally shifted and I completely changed the way I was looking at what is art and what isn’t.
Now, I think that formulating the decision to work digitally does not define the legitimacy or value of what you’re working on, but rather it’s just a question of if you want to use that device as your tool to create with. The tool should never define the work, the visuals should! Plus, working on an iPad is extremely empowering. You have access to a far greater number of creative possibilities and resources right at your fingertips, all in a compact device. You can synthesize anything. That’s sort of revolutionary if you think about it.
But that being said, all of this digital hype I’m spitting, this doesn’t mean I no longer will work on paper and make physical things. Not at all. I just no longer see a value difference between the two facets of creation (i.e. digital vs physical).
"I THINK THAT FORMULATING THE DECISION TO WORK DIGITALLY DOES NOT DEFINE THE LEGITIMACY OR VALUE OF WHAT YOU’RE WORKING ON, BUT RATHER IT’S JUST A QUESTION OF IF YOU WANT TO USE THAT DEVICE AS YOUR TOOL TO CREATE WITH. THE TOOL SHOULD NEVER DEFINE THE WORK, THE VISUALS SHOULD!"
After all the hard work that goes into a live action shoot, how do you stay motivated to add the intense workflow of animation on top of that?
If I’m being truly honest, I have no idea how I stay motivated in the animation process. Sometimes I feel a bit like Rocky Balboa and I’m just getting the shit beat out of me — like my ideas aren’t working, the quantity of frames I need to make keep increasing, etc. — but for whatever reason I just hang in there and battle through it to the end.
I think I just have so much to prove and the fact that I feel like an underdog in my career keeps me motivated to show people what I’m capable of. Straight up. I sometimes feel like I’m a low-key creative psychopath that loves producing artwork so damn much to a point that it’s unhealthy. That’s that underdog mentality. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
But that said, the harm doesn’t usually outweigh the stoke! No matter the art making process — animation, design, filmmaking, whatever — I find the creative mindset to be devilishly rewarding and addicting and tons of fun. It fulfills me beyond words. I guess you could say it keeps me coming back for more, like the addict I am.
Name your top 5 music videos
I’m a huge fan of Lope Serrano, one-half of the director duo “CANADA”, and the music video they directed for Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know The Better” is a BOREDOM favorite. Besides that, my friend Max Winston is a stop motion animator and he directed / animated this bonkers ass music video for The Manx’s big slapper “Hateful Goo”. That video rules! I also really like this video that Colin Read directed for Danny Brown’s “3 Tearz”. The Pharcyde’s music video for “Drop”, directed by Spike Jonze, is music video gold. But my personal and absolute favorite music video of all time is Justice’s video for “Stress” directed by Romain Gavras. It’s raw perfection, true anarchy, and is a mind-blowing masterpiece.
Thank you’s and production credits
This is going to go on forever, so apologies in advance for sounding like a dumb celebrity at an award show, but sometimes you just have to be that person…
I want to give a huge shout out and thank you to all the homies in No Vacation (Sab Mai, Nat Lee, and Harrison W. Spencer) for trusting my vision, and being such open minded people to collaborate with. I want to thank my BOREDOM partner in crime, Luke Lasley, for taking on the role of Producer on this project and making a lot of my unrealistic wishes for this video become realities. I also want to give enormous shout outs to some key crew members who took on exceptionally big roles for this project: Joseph R. Barrett (Director of Photography), Bailey Stumpfl (Wardrobe Stylist), Keri Shewmaker (Production Designer), and Anders Ericsson (Editor). The amount of work, talent, and original vision they each brought to this music video was awe-inspiring. That said, everyone who worked on this video was so damn clutch! Literally, absolutely everyone was a creative beast. So I’d just like to give my biggest of thanks to all of the crew. I am beyond grateful for each and every one of you. Lastly, I want to thank my dude Jeremy Summer at Little Moving Pictures, all of the crew at Little Giant Lighting and Grip, the color crew at Ntropic, and my loving family and supportive fwiendz. You know who you be! Oh and for real, shout outs Andrew at True Grit for making the most killer brushes around.
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