Sun | Mar 29, 2020

Bringing lyrics to life

Published:Monday | January 21, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Artwork from Justin Seepaul's animation video for Popcaan's Addicted.
Trinidadian graphic artist, Justin Seepaul.
Local animator, Antoine Chung of ViSY Studio Motions.
Artwork from Jada Kingdom's Banana lyric video.
Artwork created by Antoine Chung and directed for Spice's Body Right animated music video.

There's no debate that music videos have always been a vital part of the industry. With the continuous transformation of digital media and social networking, animated video creation is now very popular.

As the technology becomes more accessible, and the platform grows, the 'MTV Generation' is not just adding text to the screen, they are bringing lyrics and the artistes to life with animated videos.

"Animated music videos are the future. The only limit is an individual's imagination and if it is a trend, it won't diminish anytime soon because animation allows the subject, the producer, and the lyrics to cross any sea. There are many innovative people waiting to be seen and heard. The road to this will be a smooth ride with drivers like these," said Akeem Plummer.

Plummer and his partner Antoine Chung, are principals of ViSY Studio Motions, and Cover Art Express, which is responsible for Spice's new video Body Right, which was officially released last Friday. The caricature looks a lot like the actual individual, and Spice-toon is an equally sexy version of the proclaimed dancehall queen. Catchy lyrics aside, the video has already captured over 200,000 views on YouTube.


Main Issue


Chung explained: "The main issue is that the amount of time and effort that goes into the productions outweighs the profits." The two who also dabble in other areas including graphic art for advertising campaigns, website development, and album covers, started out at Calabar High School, where they produced a comic book and put a price for anyone who wanted to see it.

The self-taught artists have only been actively producing animated music videos on a professional level for approximately five months. Their catalogue includes Jada Kingdom's Banana and Wasteman, Shane O's Radio, Alkaline's Nah Tell Yuh, and Vybz Kartel's Stand Up and Vybz Principal.

The intention is ultimately to see the entertainer's song, idea, and own personality come to life, explained Plummer, adding, "Several factors have influenced recording artistes to take the animated route. For Spice, I think she chose animation because the track, Body Right, makes mention of various artistes - it has over 20 persons and I don't think she could get all the artistes to participate in the video simultaneously. It was easier to put in an animated video, and it is a lot more engrossing for the audience."

At another end of the Caribbean, Justin Seepaul, owner of Move With Time Productions based in Trinidad and Tobago, is capturing the attention of artistes within the calypso region as well as in the dancehall.

Seepaul described animated videos as "mainly a trend among the recording artistes, and it's because of the digital times we live in and people want to see productions that are out of this world."

But he thinks it has much more potential. "Anybody can rent a fancy car and produce a music video, but with all the entertainers worldwide, the spectators see that every day, and to them it's no longer a big deal. At the end of the production, it may also cost less to do an animated video."

His company is responsible for the lyric videos for Juggernaut by Alkaline, Champion Bubbalaz by Fadda Fox, Whine Up Fimi by Charly Blacks and Chris Martin, Play Di Soca by Shenseea, Addicted by Popcaan that has amassed 2.5 million views, and the cartoon of Mavado driving in a Jeep in the animated video for Father God among many others.

"I have been an artist for the 24 years [that I've been] on this Earth but only started animated music videos at the end of 2017. I really didn't expect it to get this big," he said.