How To Make a Music Video Animation

I created my first animated video using (mostly) mobile apps and social media. It started with inspiration from a song and evolved organically from there. I used my iPhone and my iPad – with some final edits on the computer in Adobe Premiere.

Finding the inspiration to create

Art inspires art – leading to a many layered creative expression. In my case I was inspired by the music of Lisa Schouw.

My personal project is an animation based on the song, You Said, by Lisa Schouw. Lisa is a Graduate student at Pacifica with me. I heard her song, You Said, during our last residential. Lisa and I collaborated together creatively during the Shakespeare course in fall 2014. We worked together in a performance by combining two Shakespeare speeches having to do with love and justice. There is a connection with the song, for me, to Lisa herself as a powerful creative inspiration and also the archetype of love relationships.

I recently learned a new term, ekphrasis. I might be working backward here – turning the poetry of Lisa’s song into something visual with my animation.

“The concept of poetry as response to visual art, ekphrasis, has been an aspect of poetry at least since Homer’s description of Achilles’s shield in The Illiad; ekphrasis means “giving voice to a mute art object” or “offering a rhetorical description of a work of art.” More generally, the term can refer to any description intended to bring a person, place, thing, etc. into the mind’s eye. Ekphrasis, then, functions as an interart metamorphosis between visual art and poetry.” – Childress, C. Art from Art

Planning a Visual Story

The first step was to figure out the general idea of the visual story. I did this by sketching out my idea in a storyboard form using the Paper App and Keynote to arrange them on my iPad.


Basic ‘camera’ movement

The next step was then taking little videos using the social media app – VINE. I was playing with the movement of the screen. Should I pan left or right, up or down? What does the sequence feel like? What order should is go it? By creating small quick videos I got a better idea of what I liked. Here s an example:

Figure out the frames and timing

Now that I had a basic idea of the story and movement I was ready to start with the animation. I used the Animation Creator HD app to get started. I had to figure out the time and frame rate to match with the audio of the song. I started with a low frame rate and a very simple drawing to see what would happen. The below low res draft of the animation was about 500 frames – or individual drawings. I posted this text video, privately directly to Vimeo to get some feedback from Lisa and a few other people.

Final Music Video Edits

I continued to make edits to the animation. I added in more frames and increased the frame rate from 2 to 4 frames per second. This made the final animation about 1,000 frames or drawing. I added more images to make the experience more visually complex and interesting to watch. The final steps included adding in the sound track and the credits. These final edits I did on my laptop with the Adobe Premiere program. This final video was uploaded to Youtube.

“You Said” from, If Love Were The Moon – 6 Track EP, by Lisa Schouw – a multitalented singer, songwriter, actress and singing teacher.

Animation by Mitra Cline, a contemporary artist creating mixed media paintings inspired by life experiences.