Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters was one of the few good things to come out of 2020, with the Grammy-nominated track “Shameika” even resulting in a heartwarming reunion between the singer and the schoolmate who inspired it. The now-iconic piano ballad is paired with an equally alluring music video created by graphic designer Matthias Brown, whose figurative gifs we’ve featured previously on Colossal, and follows a black-and-white rendering of Apple’s lips that shapeshift as she mouths the lyrics.
The video took a few years to complete, a lengthy process Brown documented in a timelapse and that began with rotoscoping, or tracing, videos of Apple’s face while she sang. The New York City-based designer then animated each drawing frame-by-frame and set it to the track. “I tried working directly analog, but my timing wasn’t working well with the music. I had a digital version of the animation completed, then printed every frame out and traced it using brush and ink,” he says. “All in all, there are about 4,000 frames. Scanning alone took about 20 hours.”
Brown says plans are in the works to sell stills from the video to raise money for Seeding Sovereignty and Harlem Children’s Zone. You can follow the designer’s most recent projects, which include a plafyul series of alphabet animations, on his Tumblr, Traceloops.