Co.Design

A Music Video Made Out of 100-Year-Old Newspaper Comics

Director Benjamin Harrison animated old "Little Nemo" comic strips for Jascha Hoffman's single "Some Hungry Guy."

For the video for "Some Hungry Guy" by songwriter Jascha Hoffman, director Benjamin Harrison had history to do the work for him -- pulling century-old "Little Nemo" newspaper comic strips by Winsor McCay and animating them to digital life. He even found a way to put Hoffman's face into the antique comic-strip world:

Granted, Harrison didn't raid a library's priceless antique newsprint collection to throw into AfterEffects -- Hoffman found high-resolution scans of "Little Nemo" at Comicstriplibrary.org, "which appears to have been someone's awesome library science student project," he tells Co.Design. Harrison had to work some Photoshop magic on the tiny panels to get them to scale up to HD resolution, which resulted in what he calls a "watercolor look" that fits Hoffman's plaintive, dreamy vocals perfectly. (As for how they got Hoffman's head onto Little Nemo's body -- let's just say that cheap greenscreen techniques are the equivalent of a magic wand at this point in filmmaking history.)

The duo was so pleased at how their visual experiment turned out that they're planning to mine McCay's other early-twentieth-century strips for inspiration as well. "One thing I learned in this process is that Winsor McCay himself was one of the earliest experimenters with animation," Harrison says. "While I can't pretend to be in the same league as he was, I think there's something cool about giving motion to some of his still artwork using modern animation techniques."

[Listen to "Some Hungry Guy" at Jascha Hoffman's site]

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