The Making of Persistent Peril's "Phantom Power"

Tue 25 Aug 2015

We take a look back at one of our favourite pieces of 2D animation from the last year, and find out from the directors, Persistent Peril, what the future holds for the traditional style of animating.

Famed for their clever narratives and character designs, Persistent Peril crafted a striking and powerful animated 2D music video for indie rock band Diagram. Using a limited, but carefully chosen colour palette, a cunning use of negative space and playful character designs, Phantom Power tells the story of a man sore from a recent break up.

To gain more of an insight into the way Persistent Peril think and work, we hassled Creative Directors Garth & Ginny with a bunch of questions about the project, and their views on 2D animation.


Can you tell us a bit more about your work on Phantom Power? For example, what did you enjoy? 
Creating a music video is always challenging, we try to push ourselves to go outside our comfort area and try something new, which can be really rewarding. With Phantom Power we wanted to create a more complex narrative than we had previously in our work. And graphically we wanted to try something new and play with a more illustrative look, like a series of book jackets or posters. The black space around the action really felt encompassing and keeps the focus on a few select details.

What was the original brief? 
Diagrams were really open to us reacting to the track and creating our own narrative, which was amazing.  The original idea for the video was a little different at first, as the ‘boy’ was also in the memory portals, and most of the story focused on him waking to a world with multiple versions of himself trying to win the girlfriend back. Once we started to flesh it out to the music, we decided that the relationship was the most interesting part, and decided to pull the focus on to that idea instead.


Why do you think Diagrams opted for a 2D animation for this music video?
Sam (of Diagrams) had seen our other work and enjoyed it. I think he liked the graphic ‘look’ you get from a 2D aesthetic, but you would have to ask him!

You’ve been working on professional 2D projects for years, can you tell us why Persistent Peril chose to focus on this style of animating?
We love 2D animation. From creating playful and strange movement, to subtle performances, it really allows you to create things your way without the limitations of pesky things like physics. Blur frames are also an important part of our work. Expressing motion by abstracting the space, or character, is something that feels really natural in 2D. CG is getting better at this though, but you see fun in-between frames much less often.


What are your thoughts on the future of 2D animation?
We’re glad to see it coming back. For a while it seemed to be fading out, but thanks to shows like Adventure Time and Paul Rudish’s new Mickey shorts, I can see it sticking around!  As kids, we learn to draw way before we can master 3D techniques. So I think there will always be a fascination with ‘moving drawings’. Flip books still feel magic, don’t they? And who doesn't love a bit of magic in their lives.

And lastly, is there anything exciting we should we look out for from PP?
We’re currently experimenting with mixing 2D and 3D together, trying to get the best of both worlds. But we will always create 2D work as well, we just love the freedom it gives you.

Watch Phantom Power in full here.