Creative Accounting: Menomena's Animated Music Video - Believer Magazine
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Creative Accounting: Menomena’s Animated Music Video

Creative Accounting: Menomena’s Animated Music Video

Chris Benz
15 Snaps

Music videos are not the sales machines they once were. Record companies frequently balk at spending tens of thousands of dollars on a video, so the medium has welcomed a more traditional funding source: patronage. The Medicis of this music video were the PF Flyers shoe company, which gave twelve thousand dollars to director Stefan Nadelman to produce an animated music video for Menomena’s song “Evil Bee.” PF Flyers had the right to host the video on its website, exclusively, for a month. The shoes appeared nowhere in the video.

Nadelman made this animation almost entirely by himself. He spent three months building and photographing models, roto-scoping the photographs into manipulatable elements, and animating those images.

This is an installment of Creative Accounting, an ongoing series that explains where the money goes for projects in the major creative industries. Future issues will cover publishing, television, and fine art. Very soon the series will be collected into a single, indispensable volume, published by Believer Books.

—Christopher Benz

MENOMENA’S ANIMATED MUSIC VIDEO

$12,000

Materials $1,001.34

Bee and crow models $766

Sculptor’s fee $700

Nadelman commissioned sculptor Kimi Kaplowitz.

Materials $66

styrofoam Crow $21

toy tank $20

Forces of Valor German Tiger 1, cannibalized for treads

Toy Tractor $25

night lights (x2) $0

Brent Knopf, one third of Menomena, came up with the concept for the video in college. He handed Nadelman his notes and a box of props, including two night lights.

Other models and set $235.34

Tools $0

Nadelman used his tools from home. 

Materials $210.60

flowers $0

A neighbor’s yard provided the flowers.

Red pillow $18

Egg $0.33

meat $6

Plunger $3

hexagonal tiles $0.85

cones $2

pump $5

chicken wire $0 

metal funnel $0

Basil-Seed Drink $0

Tiny seeds doubled as larvae.

Messenger-bag strap $0

Balsa Strips $1.98

Two Hexagonal Boxes $3.98

dishwashing liquid $1.99

Karo syrup $3.69

Food Coloring $3.99

Birdhouse $5.49

Cuckoo Bird $10.23

Clock hands $6.49

telescoping coat hanger $1

3″ Grecian pillars $2.49

foam bricks $3.49

glass pipe $10

cork $12

conduit/strap tie $1.50

pint glass $0.99

hexagonal Gutter guard $1.61

foam boards (x2) $8.98

3″ wooden balls $2.99

Used to create bird’s eye details

clear tubing $9

misc. props $10.47

stain $3.66

handi-tak $1.79

wood glue $6.99

utility brush $1.97

textured spray paint $12.69

screws $1.10

Metal plates, washers $32.54

clamps (x2) $3.98

candles $3.98

lazy Susan materials $2.26

lazy Susan base $2.10

Office supplies $4.74

Contract work $20

engraving $20

Engraving a hexagon on a pint glass

Labor $10,998.66

Director’s expenses $913.75

Expenses for the full three months of the project

Dining out $403

Drinking out $244

Groceries $266.75

Labor $10,084.91

Rotoscoped Gravity Conveyor $0

Animator Adam Levine photographed and rotoscoped a gravity conveyor for his friend.

Rotoscoped Bee Shreds $0

Animator Eric Gorski spent a day rotoscoping different angles of shredded bee pieces. Rotoscoping is the process of translating a live object into an animated image. Pre-digital animators would project a film onto a drawing board and trace each frame. For this project, rotoscoping meant having photos of the models from every conceivable angle and lighting, then using Photoshop to isolate these images from their backgrounds.

Director $10,084.91

Nadelman worked about 660 hours on the project. He built, rotoscoped, and animated as he went. Ten percent of his time went to actual filming. Subtracting the $1,915.09 production expenses, he made $10,084.91 in three months, or $15.28 an hour.

TOTALS

  • Materials $1,001.34

  • Labor $10,998.66

Grand Total $12,000

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