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The Glitch Mob - Can't Kill Us (Unofficial Video)
Motion Graphics
The Glitch Mob - Can't Kill Us (Unofficial Video)
Client: Self Initiated

Berlin Music Video Award Official Nominee.
This is a passion project I have been working on between real projects for over a year now. I wanted to make something that would push my skills as a 3D artist and force me outside of my comfort zone. The Glitch Mob is one of my favorite electronic artists and their music has a very cinematic quality that has always conjured up stories within my mind. I wanted to make something that reflected that cinematic quality and felt like it could be a title sequence to a movie while maintaining the dark, aggressive, and energetic vibe of the song.

    The song Can't kill Us was the perfect choice as it seemed to follow a three act story format with a clear beginning middle and climactic ending. Aside from the title of the song and the album cover art (A samurai helmet with smoke coming out of it) there really wasn't much for me to go on visually, so I created my own abstract narrative for this song. Essentially I wanted it to to be a loose story about the unbreakable will of the human spirit and the trials and tribulations that happen over the course of our life. It gives us an abstract glimpse into the subconscious mind during a human lifespan as said human experiences love, loss, triumph, failure, death and rebirth. I created the samurai figure to be a representation of human willpower. 

    The song follows the cycle of life, death and rebirth. In the first third, the hero is being created and "born." We see macro shots representative of the abstract thought processes a pre-birth infant might have.  Inter-cut with those are surreal non-linear flashes of life experiences, love, and complex thought forming in the subconscious mind.  This all culminates in a "birth" as shown by the full body samurai revealing shots. The second third of the song is the life of the samurai as he begins his journey to find passion and purpose. In doing so he unlocks the challenges we all face on this path; self doubt, negative criticism, setbacks and failures (as represented by the serpents) which continue to grow and attack the spirit. On a particular journey to seek out something new, our hero unlocks his greatest challenge and is faced with fierce opposition. The samurai and the serpents engage in a metaphorical fight representative of the human spirit attempting to persevere against challenges in the way of a goal. 

    As we enter the third act, the samurai is struck down by the serpents and begins fall into a pit of self doubt until he is consumed by it. During the climax of the song, the Samurai appears to be overcome by the serpents and disintegrates until all that is left is his helmet, Seemingly beaten down by self doubt and life's opposition. However, at the end it is revealed that the hero figure was only one small aspect of the human spirit, and although it may have been destroyed by its opposition, there are still many more because no matter how much a challenge beats us down, we can always get back up because you can't kill us.

This was a tremendous learning experience for me. It consumed my free time for over a year and forced me to develop my skills with X-particles, Redshift, Z brush, Cinema 4D and Octane. I really enjoyed the process. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it. 
EDIT* The Glitch Mob saw this and liked it so much that they decided to officially release it on their youtube channel!
Once I had the idea, I started by modeling the samurai character using a combination of cinema 4D and Zbrush. I knew this would be featured prominently in almost every scene, so it was important that I get it right. The helmet I modeled after the image on the album cover, but I had to make up everything from the neck down. I tried to match the futuristic and tactical feel of the samurai helmet as closely as possible, and used materials like carbon fiber and worn steel.
Next, I started experimenting with smoke simulations and volumetric environment fog for the scene where smoke flows from the samurai helmet. This is literally the album cover for the Love Death Immortality album in which Can't Kill Us is featured, so I knew I wanted to include it as a part of the music video. I knew I wanted to create a simulation-heavy video and I had basically no experience doing smoke simulations so if I couldn't get this shot right, the whole thing wouldn't work. I had to basically teach myself X-particles in order to make this video. I originally rendered these in Octane, but after seeing that Redshift handles volumes, fog and particles far better, I taught myself Redshift and eventually redid 75% of the video in Redshift after already making it in Octane as I was able to achieve a much better result.
After that, I started creating the scenes for the moments I knew that I wanted. I went into this project with a very loose narrative in mind and approached the whole thing as a chance to experiment and learn new skills. I knew this would be an abstract and non-linear edit so I didn't create a storyboard. Rather, I built lots of scenes. Some for specific moments in the song, some that just fit the vibe of the song and could go anywhere and some that are literal representations of what I imagined specific sounds in the song would look like. Once I had lots of shots to work with, the actual order they went in was figured out in edit by moving things around in premiere until I got a result I was happy with. This Eye was one that I knew I would use for a few specific moments so I sculpted it in Zbrush early on in the process. Zbrush was not a program that I knew how to use before this project, and this forced me to start learning it.
X-particles was a software that I leaned heavily on throughout this project. I had only a basic understanding of it before going in to this, but I knew that I wanted this video to have lots of liquids, smokes, fire, glowing particles, bubbles etc. in almost every scene, so I spent a great deal of time learning it in order to achieve the effects that I wanted. Below are just a few of the scenes that I used X-particles to animate.
Aside from the scenes that I knew I wanted to create for specific moments in the song, I also created a wide variety of abstract and surreal shots that didn't necessarily have a specific place in the narrative, but had the look of the overall dark and aggressive vibe I was going for and could be moved around in the edit and placed wherever I felt like it worked best. Since this story is loosely about peering into subconscious thought during a human lifespan as said human encounters opposition, I envisioned these scenes as sort of a visual representation of actual thoughts and synapses within the brain as well as things one might experience in life's journey. i.e. love, aggression, passion, triumph, fear, despair, growth etc.
During the second act of the song, the Hero character goes on a journey to find his passion as we all do in life. In doing so he encounters opposition. I created these dojo scenes to represent the place this character is attempting to get to in his life, and like many of us the road to finding our passion is treacherous and laden with obstacles. By seeking something greater, inevitably challenges like self-doubt, negativity, setbacks and failures are encountered. This is represented metaphorically with fiery particles that are unlocked from within the dojo shrine that morph into the main antagonist; snakes.
I needed a physical representation of the failures and challenges one experiences on the path to finding passion and meaning in life. I felt that using snakes fit the dark vibes and worked well with many of the liquid-like shots I had already created. 
After facing fierce opposition, the hero is struck down by the serpents and falls into an endless pit of despair and self-doubt, and is eventually destroyed from the inside out from his own negativity and fear. I wanted this to feel epic and match the intensity of the song climax. I wanted it to feel like the the whole world is crashing down and everything the protagonist has ever known is disintegrating into nothing, so I literally made him shatter into oblivion and fire until only his helmet is left lifeless on the ground. However, the song is called Can't Kill Us so at the very end we see that despite killing this particular aspect of our character, there are still many more ready to fight on in the pursuit of passion.
This was an incredible learning experience in both executing and directing a CG short film. It was my free time obsession for over a year. In many ways the journey of the samurai fraught with all of his self-doubt, obstacles and perseverance mirrored my own during the process of creating this video. On a more personal note, The Glitch Mob was the first electronic artist that I discovered around 2010 and opened the flood gates of electronic music for me, which in turn inspired me to learn 3D animation after seeing the concert visuals at EDM shows. Making this is my way of bringing that journey full circle. Although I don't think that it's perfect, I am very happy with the result and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I hope this inspires you as much as the Glitch Mob's music inspires me. If you like it, please share it!

Credits
Direction & Animation: Ian Frederick​​​​​​​
Music: The Glitch Mob
Special thank you to my friend Ethan Erickson who helped me
come up with some of the initial ideas for shots and how to edit this​​​​​​​
The Glitch Mob - Can't Kill Us (Unofficial Video)
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Ian Frederick

The Glitch Mob - Can't Kill Us (Unofficial Video)

A cinematic full CG music video of the song Can't Kill Us by The Glitch Mob featuring dark, surreal and abstract themes
910
8.2k
42
Published: