Procter Bros. animate local bands one frame at a time

The Procter Brothers, Christian and Sean, have made use of a 100-year-old animation technique to make some Manitoba music videos into astonishing, intricate works of art.

Music videos by JD Edwards Band and The Lytics get animated

The Proctors Bros. animated JD Edwards Band's Going Down to Mexico. (courtesy Proctor Bros. )

The Procter Brothers, Christian and Sean, have made use of a 100-year-old animation technique to make some Manitoba music videos into astonishing, intricate works of art.

The Procter Bros. Inc. used stop motion animation in videos of JD Edwards Band's Going Down to Mexico and The Lytics' On Top

Stop motion animation is one of the most painstakingly detailed, labour-intensive art forms in which the photographer takes hundreds of pictures of a three-dimensional object, moving it infinitesimally after each shot, creating the illusion of movement (as opposed to 2D animation used in cartoons). 

"I think the labour-intensive quality appeals to me," said Christian Procter. "I like those things where you labour at something for long periods and roll up your sleeves and work hard."

But the Procter brothers take the idea of 'work hard' to a whole new level. For the music video of  "Going Down to Mexico" by the JD Edwards Band, they thought it would only make sense to shoot it in Mexico. Not having the funds to bring all the musicians, the brothers shot a video of the band in their practice space, printed it frame by frame on card stock, then cut each frame out.

Then they took 10,000 cutouts of the band to Jalisco State, on the west coast of Mexico. The process was to put the cutouts on sticks, place them in actual locations in Mexico and sequence them in front of different backdrops. Seriously.

"The song's called Going Down to Mexico, but it's more about just dreaming or escape. We wanted to create this idea where they were in Mexico but not in Mexico, so the cardboard cutouts gave us that feeling."

JD Edwards couldn't be happier with the product. "This project was a unique one for me. I have never been apart of such a cool experience as this. When shooting the footage for the video I thought these guys are crazy, but what came out the other end was fantastic and it blew my mind."

The Procter brothers work as a team, with Sean specializing in shooting video Christian carrying the bulk of the animation.

Christian admits to a nostalgic love of the early cartoons they grew up with that used stop motion animation, like Frosty the Snowman and Little Drummer Boy.

"We've always been interested in animation," he said. "I love the lost art forms. I love the things that take a lot of skill that people aren't doing any more. I think the result -- people relate to it more. They can tell that it's organic, that it's real. It creates an emotional connection that we couldn't really get digitally."

The Procters used a different approach with The Lytics song, On Top. They really wanted to push toward the classic aesthetic of those old Christmas specials. They made dolls of each of the band members based on their appearance and clothes, they made 100s of little props and the whole process took a year.

The video begins with a scene of their record being produced in a factory, then follows the career of this album that goes out into the world. But it keeps coming back to the factory scene and the idea of being boxed up.

"It's kind of like connecting to the idea of dreaming about success, so that's why everything is made out of the same cardboard boxes that are in the factory," explained Christian. "All the dreams are constructed out of the same pieces of cardboard."  

Andrew Sannie of The Lytics says the band was totally surprised by the Procters' take on the song and the way they reinterpreted it. But they're extremely impressed with the end product. "It's awesome," he said. "It's artistic expression and we dig it."

As for the Procters, they remain modest. Christian says, "We're just two Winnipeg boys who are trying to do something really good. There's so much musical talent in the city we want to make sure people take notice of it. So if we can do anything to help that get out there, we're more than happy to do it."