Pink-haired fugitive detonates a "love bomb" in Kris Merc's music video for James

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Music: American director Kris Merc has created an animated tale of a hooded outlaw on a mission for English rock band James' To My Surprise music video.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc_dezeen_sqb

The film starts by following a mysterious hooded figure, as it moves around city walls surrounded by brightly lit advertisements and giant pills rolling down slides.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

As the figure progresses, the animation shows people scrolling through images on tablet devices, individuals fighting, and dogs and cats confronting each other in alleyways.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

The surrounding city occasionally resembles New York, but according to Merc the environment is meant to represent "a metaphorical crossroads" rather than a specific place.



"It's about the culture of war and violence, and in that regard it can be any place that is struggling with this," he said. "We've been saying it reflects modern society in a hyper-real, borderline dystopic way."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

The hooded individual is chased by drone cameras floating overhead and policemen in gas masks, while the action is overseen by a sinister-looking politician.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

The main character reaches what appears to be a weapons factory and reveals herself as a girl with bright pink hair. She uncovers a giant missile, which she fills with pink liquid from a test tube.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"I really wanted to have a powerful female protagonist," Merc told Dezeen. "I wanted someone who was a bit of a ninja, and there would be a bit of mystery surrounding them, their journey being something you realise as the story unfolded."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"We did a lot of character design to explore and understand what makes this character special," he added. "We explored a lot of form, and it was important not to over-sexualise the character."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

As the weapon crumbles to pieces, the video revisits earlier city scenes that now show adverts turning themselves off, pink goo oozing out of buildings and alley cats and dogs reconciling their differences.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"The band really wanted to explore this love bomb concept – if everyone in the world suddenly fell in love via this potion," said Merc, who is a director at New York film and animation studio Not To Scale, which produced the film.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

He developed detailed storyboards for the film before working with a large team of designers, animators and compositors to fine-tune and edit the footage as it was developed.

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"I don't think I've ever tried making something so ambitious in such a short amount of time before," said the director. "We had roughly a month to make the whole thing."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"I felt the song had a very wild strong vibe, so I did play off that visually," he added. "Editorially I would find the beats and the moments to reel in the vibes to the right place as well."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

"The song and visuals aligned together more and more, but I think it was a process to find that. I was heavily inspired by the song, but tuning it in to the perfect place took some time."

James To My Surprise video by Kris Merc

To My Surprise is taken from James' album Girl at the End of the World, which will be released on 18 March 2016.