Gabriel Böhmer animates paper marionettes for music video

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Gabriel Böhmer animates paper marionettes for his own music video

Music: a crow made of matches goes on an adventure through a paper landscape in singer-songwriter Gabriel Böhmer's music video for his own track The Singing Gate (+ movie).

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

Böhmer, who is also an artist and painter, took it upon himself to create the visuals for the song by Ber – a collaboration between himself and guitarist Nacho.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

"I wanted to create a piece that would stand on its own while incorporating the different disciplines that I work within, so I felt it would be an interesting challenge to deconstruct my own song," Böhmer told Dezeen.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

The video follows the story of a crow, who is mentioned in the song's chorus. The bird is brought to life by the sun and is formed out of a pile of matches in a man's house.

As the homeowner seems unimpressed by his visitors, the crow decides to go on a journey to make new friends.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

It flies out to feed some dogs with bones left over from the man's dinner, but as soon as it tries to join other birds in the sky, the heat from the sun returns it to kindling.

"The burnt crow is then thrown into a fire by the man, who evidently has had the experience of his matches turning into animals before!" said Böhmer.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

Finally, the crow becomes a cloud – joining other wispy shapes of animals in the sky.

The track – taken from Ber's debut album Fort Growing – has a raw, stripped-back acoustic sound, so the artist chose to reflect this in the rough edges and pale colour palette for the video.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

"I wanted the imagery to mirror the recording in its raw and slightly imperfect qualities, but it was just as important to keep warmth – which was why I decided to use animation," Böhmer said. "I thought stop motion would capture both the tension in the guitars, and the nostalgia in the song's production."

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

Textures and patterns were based on features from his previous homes, building on a key message of the record.

"To incorporate the album's theme of creating a home, I included my favourite elements of buildings from places where I've lived," said Böhmer.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

He incorporated burnt matches to represent the dark cladding on Swiss farmhouses, patterned fabric for Argentine floral upholstery, and painted and torn paper for Scotland's weathered stone walls.

The idea for the video was formulated quickly before a gig in Edinburgh, when ideas were jotted down on a napkin.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

To create the animation, Böhmer first produced a storyboard outlining each scene and the movements that would be included.

He then created the marionettes and scenery with thick cold-pressed paper, incorporating joints so they could be moved into different shapes and poses.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

"I sewed the thread through the pieces, and then taped it to the underside of the marionette," Böhmer explained. "I then built the set on a 100-centimetre by 50-centimetre stretched canvas."

The characters and landscape were mostly made from paper and card, but other materials such as twigs, fabric and foil were also used to add texture.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

The artist then took over 1,500 photos of the marionettes, moving them in slightly different positions a little at a time.

"I had to go through a number of test stages in order to determine the amount of movement required, the best lighting angles and sources, and to finalise scene composition," Böhmer explained.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

The scenes were assembled in Final Cut Pro at 12 or 24 frames per second, then the artist edited the video for timing, development and colouring.

The shoot totalled 50 hours and the full project took about six weeks to complete.

Music video for Gabriel Böhmer's The Singing Gate

"I think the video is ultimately very intimate, because it conveys something personal as a result of the visuals and song coming from one individual," said Böhmer.

Ber's album Fort Growing is out now.