Best of Stash 2023: Music Videos!

Music videos published in the The Stash Permanent Collection will always value the director’s design/animation/VFX craft over the popularity of the performer, which makes our year-end list refreshingly different than most.

We also dare you to find an annual best-of round up of music promos that feature a diversity of styles and production techniques as wide as this list which includes hand-animated oil paint, manga-influenced 2D, volumetrically scanned humans, feature-quality 3D characters, and AI (x2).

All these films were published in The Stash Permanent Collection during 2023 and are listed here in chronological order by the issue of publication.
Issue: Stash 157

With help from Midjourney, director Tristan Holmes conjures 10,000+ AI-generated frames and animates them into a relentless protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine for Chicago heavy metal band Disturbed.

Tristan Holmes: “The band were super open and gave us a lot of freedom in the making of the video. To start, we chatted a bit about the current political climate and about how to create something that spoke to it without being preachy. A process like this is very intuitive and so being super prescriptive regarding outcomes would have been quite unhelpful and so I am grateful for the band’s openness and trust.”

Issue: Stash 157

Emmy-nominated British director/artist Em Cooper hand-animates thousands of oil paintings into a surreal exploration of the space between dreaming and wakefulness for the special edition release of The Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping”.

A mix of rotoscoped archival footage and wonderfully fluid transitions, the visuals feel like a perfect match for the song originally released in the summer of 1966 on Revolver, widely regarded as one of the most technically and creatively innovative pop albums of all time.

Issue: Stash 157

Saad Moosajee, director/lead designer at Stink Films in New York: “Woodkid and I met in the Fall of 2020 after he’d found my work on Instagram and we started talking about collaborating together. Since Woodkid had directed all of his own music videos up to this point, he didn’t have any briefs or put out any call for pitches.

“He instead shared all the creative materials, i.e images, writing, and ideas from the S16 album itself, and asked me to pick a track. We both liked the idea of creating a fully CGI video and settled on the song ‘Reactor’. Woodkid wrote ‘Reactor’ for the Suginami Junior Chorus (Japan), it was recorded in 2020 in Tokyo.”

Issue: Stash 158

Director Olivier Staphylas (Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon) teams with choreographer Nicky Andersen (BTS, Taylor Swift) and a serious character design/animation crew to launch Simon Fuller’s virtual band The Meeps.

Olivier Staphylas: “Simon Fuller [creator of the Idols TV format] had this wonderful concept to create a virtual band of stuffed animals. I reached out to one of my favorite illustrators, Wiebke Rauers to design our characters. I wanted characters that were both adorable and quirky, and Wiebke totally nailed it. We then brought in Avner Geller as our production designer who was tremendous.”

Issue: Stash 159

Freshly signed to the director roster at Passion Paris, Colombian animator/character designer Juan Pablo Machado channels his favorite manga artists in this music video fantasy for French producer/musician Sandór Waïss.

Juan Pablo Machado: “I always had great admiration for mangakas such as Shin’ichirō Watanabe (Samurai Champloo) and Tsutomu Nihei (Blame), their attention to detail and the powerful expressions of their characters, and Satoshi Kon for his off-the-wall directing and editing. In this project, the character is the door to a conversation with the viewer. A good design reflects the character’s personality, past, and values.”

Issue: Stash 161

In this first project out of agency Mother Berlin, BWGTBLD director Jovan Todorović builds an extraordinary world from mundane moments and volumetrically scanned humans for German techno icon Paul Kalkbrenner.

Jovan Todorović: “The video is arranged like a series of paintings, fluctuating between the ordinary and the absurd. It prompts viewers to question the reality of what they see, distinguishing between the genuinely human and the deliberately human-like. ‘SCHWER’ is less of a story-based film and more of a commentary on society.”

Issue: Stash 162

In this music video for Paris duo Chien Méchant, director Kelzang Ravach leads French studio Temple Caché into an acid-enhanced 80s nightmare, lacing live-action footage with an AI-generated graphic style.

Kelzang Ravach: “This video is an intoxicatingly kitsch ballad between two teenagers during a disco night out in the 80’s when, during a lunar eclipse, Barbarella reveals her true identity. We used artificial intelligence in this project to sharpen our aesthetic, creating emotional sensations through transitions and art direction’s hypnotic effects.”
Watch all the Best of Stash 2023 Collections.