Last December, House of Hats released their eponymous “House of Hats” EP, and decided to make a video for the track This Love. The band have made a fantastic animation for it, in collaboration with film maker Finn Hopson, which only got released to the world last month. I caught up with Finn and James, Alex and Rob from the band to find out how it all came about, and why it’s taken so long to appear.
The first version of the video was made at the time of the EP by James, who plays guitar and has also designed of all of the band’s artwork so far. It was shot on an iPhone and everything was hand drawn and captured and assembled using traditional stop motion methods. James tells us “It had a shakey quality to it, which was very charming but it didn’t have a quality that matched the music, really”.
Finn Hopson’s day job is profession filmwork, doing everything from video editing for TV, to making animations for corporate clients. Around the time the orginal video was made, Finn had made a time-lapse video and showed Alex. He was impressed, and showed Finn James’ original iPhone effort and asked if Finn could do anything for them. Finn said “Why not? I’ll take your little things, I’ll move them around, I’ll have it done next week!”. Things took a little bit longer that though.
When Finn asked for the James’ artwork from the original version, he got an envelope stuffed with hundreds of cut out figures, each meticulously labelled, some still with blu-tack on them, and a seventeen page email of notes detailing exactly how everything works! James says “I didn’t know how detailed Finn wanted things, so I told him exactly”. Finn counters “What I said was ‘could you write down roughly where you’d like things to happen?’ and you had it word for word all of the way through all of the lyrics, syllable by syllable!”, to which Rob adds “That’s James through and through!”.
Finn explains “I tried to do it stop motion in my camera originally and try and do it frame by frame with stills, and I got a little way into it and after about a day I realised that you shoot 25 frames a second worth of stuff for a few seconds and suddenly you’ve got hundreds and hundreds of photos all of which need a little bit of fiddling and then exporting and then putting together into a movie and then if it’s wrong you have to go back and start again from scratch. So I did that a few times and realised that I should do it differently.”
The final version starts off with stop motion – the book opening at the beginning is put together shot by shot, but from that point on it becomes scans of the illustrations laid out in a virtual 3d environment, treated and processed and sprinkled with Finn’s magic touch to make it look less synthesised. “Where there are faces it’s often not just one face but a scans of multiple faces blended together digitally” Finn says. “Where the original iPhone version had one tree, I was given free reign to use multiple versions of these to embelish to the world in the video, but everything you see is from James’ original drawings”.
All this leaves us with one unanswered question – why are we only seeing the video now? The reason is that the band’s next single is coming out next month and the PR agency they’ve got working for them asked them to hold it back to help with the push for that. We’ll be writing more about that in a few weeks time. In the meantime, you can buy This Love and the rest of the House of Hats EP from iTunes here.