What was your first meeting about this project like? Was there a vision from the beginning?

GREG: This was my first opportunity at Tracks and Layer to develop an idea and show how I can take a brief and make a bold and lasting impression. The idea was clear – take the plays of Shakespeare and package them in a way that would engage a young audience, we had the music and a strong design launchpad of ideas. Now for some motion graphics magic.

What was your process from getting the song to generate ideas?

GREG: The beginning of most projects is rooted in style and design, We figure out how to form a cohesive vision of a concept to deliver to the client. Do we need a great deal of content to get the point across? or a simple sketch? This is the time where we have to be super-critical and our least precious, if an idea falls flat, it gets cut and we move on.


JACK: My first step was to expand on the moodboard provided and make a big board featuring themes, colour palettes, textures and overall vibes. It’s this point for me when the project starts to gain a shape in my mind. Shout out to favourite inspiration sources: Jorge R. Canedo’s curated Vimeo channel ‘Wine after Coffee’ and John Ingledew’s book ‘The A-Z of Visual Ideas’ amongst many Instagram accounts and websites.


What was useful with this project was to be able to listen to the music and put together images that came to mind and then try and pull out the connections between them. Take the Romeo and Juliet set of films for example, the overarching theme was ‘duality’ – Black & white, light & dark, Montague and Capulet. This was tweaked and teased into visual ideas that could fit the songs specifically such as Song 5 – Romeo and Juliet Themes has a very uplifting chorus, which fit perfectly with bright fireworks exploding out of a dark sky.

How did you put it all together?

GREG: This project had many different styles that needed to work together as part of a larger project. The Macbeth videos were monochromatic and full of solid design elements. The Much Ado About Nothing videos had a playful moody feel.


After a decent round of style frames and story art, we generated assets using Adobe Illustrator and animate them using After Effects and Cinema 4D. The beauty of the 2-way workflow here really shines through. Assets can be tweaked in Illustrator and Photoshop with changes appearing in after effects. The 3D scene data from C4D can be used to enhance the 2D animation in After effects and the 2D sections can have 3D objects interacting with them.


Did your approach / idea / vision change as you worked on any song?

JACK: Song 1 MAAN Plot was a real tough one to come up with ideas for. The vocal of the song used an almost West Indian patois which was difficult to present on screen or to connect with the overarching style for the Much Ado About Nothing group of songs.


The initial style frames I produced for this song used an open notebook device for all of the animation to fit in or animate out from. I modelled a simple Moleskine style notebook in Cinema4D and planned to export scenes with blank, paper pages and then composite the animation onto in After Effects.

I quickly realised that this process would add an unnecessary level of complexity especially when it came to amends and wouldn’t necessarily increase the quality of the final film. I decided to take the content out of the notebook and put it on flat pages pinned to a cork board. This way I could keep it all inside of After Effects and streamline my workflow. Other examples of streamlining my process was in Song 2 MAAN Characters, I rigged the characters using Duik and then created their dances with ‘wiggle’ and ‘loopOut’ expressions. I then could pre-compose each character and simply keyframe them in and out.


Did anything take you by surprise when working on this project?

GREG: The most surprising thing I discovered was how much I thought I knew about Shakespeare’s work, I had all wrong. The content we were provided felt alien to me. This was a great place to be because every scene could be viewed like I was the target audience, I could be critical and responsive to the content simultaneously. After discovering something new, it would flavour the content subtly and steer the way I developed the animation.


Which song do you think came out the best?

GREG: I really like the Chorus build up in the Macbeth videos, the graphics and music begin to ramp up and draw you in before the big payoff. In the majority they contain a little splash of colour, so they really stand apart, I feel it’s a little triumph. Myself and my kids love ‘Much Ado About Nothing – Plot’, in the theatre. there’s so much character and life in those overworked puppet strings.


I know that there was an asset that I discovered that was really well used throughout this whole project, I think each of us had a piece of the 4k Nebula action. They put our system to the test and it was great to see the different uses we found for the suite of stock footage from Rocketstock.

JACK: One song that stood out to me early on was Greg’s Song 10 – Lady Macbeth. One thing I love in short pieces like these is the ability to stick to a single simple visual style and to keep it interesting throughout, so it feels like a cohesive and solid finished piece and I think Greg achieves this in Song 10.


My other highlights is the use of 3D models with cel shading in Mike’s Song 9 Macbeth. I like when animations keep their cards close to their chest and don’t put everything on screen straight away, so when what appears to be a flat vector begins to rotate and gain depth I think it is very impressive.

Which song would you like more time / start again / take in a different direction? – What would you like to do?

JACK: One of mine that I think didn’t reach its full potential was Song 11 Macbeth – Themes. The song has such a strong introduction, reminiscent of the Guinness ‘Surfer’ commercial, I got carried away matching this mood with a dark and powerful character animation I lost sight of the how to integrate this with the rest of the song. It was due to this that I believe the rest of the piece ends up feeling quite episodic with transitions between the sections without an overarching consistency.