Their Big Break: University of the Arts Seniors Animate Animal Collective Music Video

Joseph Pollack and Scott Newcomb created animated 'kaleidoscopic odyssey' for band's 'Brother Sport' video

February 8, 2010

Just as bands get their "big break," Joseph Pollack (right) and Scott Newcomb (left), Animation seniors at the University of the Arts, received theirs when they were tasked with creating the animated sequences for the mind-expanding music video "Brother Sport" by the Domino Records group Animal Collective.

An experimental psychedelic-pop group, the 10-year-old Animal Collective is a New York City/Washington, D.C./Lisbon-based band that often experiments with diverse styles and ideas from album to album. The band has released nine studio albums, the most recent of which, "Merriweather Post Pavilion," climbed as high as No. 13 on the United States charts and was recognized as Spin magazine's album of the year.

The 6:24 mostly live action "Brother Sport" video features children straight out of Where the Wild Things Are, gallivanting through meadows, farm animals, hillbillies and moonshine, neon interstitials, and Pollack and Newcomb's evolving, undulating, smirking monsters. And that's just the first 90 seconds. The video follows with more of Pollack and Newcomb's trippy animation sequences and those Wild Things kids painting eggs and pretty much anything else they can touch.

Rolling Stone called the video a "kaleidoscopic odyssey." "Abundantly colorful, chock full of animation, and a smidge psychedelic," proclaimed Spin.

Praise like that might not be equivalent to winning the Grammy with your debut record, but it probably gets you invited to the after party.

The video is approaching 200,000 hits on YouTube and is garnering major buzz across the blogosphere.

So just how did two college students land a gig animating a music video for a major label act?

Jack Kubizne, a classmate of Pollack and Newcomb's while the three were working on their associates degrees at Delaware College of Art and Design, was an avid Animal Collective fan and wanted to become involved with the band in some way. He transferred out of DCAD to the Pratt Institute in New York City and met Mike Enright, a senior lecturer in the University's Media Arts department who also teaches at Pratt. Enright knew someone at Domino Records and arranged an introduction for Kubizne, who joined the band's road crew as video DJ and an extra pair of hands.

Animal Collective "outsources" its videos to unknown artists as a means to bring them to the public consciousness. The group tapped Kubizne to direct "Brother Sport." He, in turn, approached Pollack and Newcomb about creating the animation. Since Animal Collective is one of Newcomb's all-time favorite bands, there wasn’t need for much debate about taking the job.

Nearly every weekend for six months, Kubizne came to Philadelphia to work with Pollack and Newcomb, whose job was to fill in the blank frames in the video’s live action footage with "evolving monsters." They had to animate to the beats of the song and match their drawings with the live action. Dividing the work equally, the duo hand drew their otherworldly creations in water color pencils and put them together in Adobe After Effects, a digital motion graphics and compositing software, mainly used in film and video post-production.

"Animation is difficult," said Newcomb, who uses the first name "Skaught" professionally so as to differentiate himself from an artistic namesake. "But it's becoming more and more second nature. We just wanted to make a video as great as the song."

So what's up for their sophomore effort? A video for Grizzly Bear, Terrestrial Tones, Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors or any of the other experimental psychedelic-pop groups out there waiting for their "big break?"

"I think we'll hold off on the professional work for a while to focus on senior projects," Pollack said.

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