How Fran Healy Drew Travis’s New Video On an IPad


How Fran Healy Drew Travis’s New Video On an IPad

“I had this huge callus,” says Fran Healy. “You can still see a dent in my finger where the pencil rested.”

The Travis frontman is proudly showing us the battle scars he sustained on his latest project – hand-drawing and animating a music video from scratch.

It was an “act of desperation”, he admits, after the coronavirus lockdown meant the band could no longer film a video for their new single, A Ghost.

After some back-of-the-envelope calculations, he figured out he could draw 10 seconds of footage every 16 hours and produce a full video in 30 days.

In the end, he produced 2,500 drawings on his iPad by tracing over footage he’d filmed at home or sourced on the internet – a technique known as rotoscoping, which pop fans will recognise from A-ha’s Take On Me video.

Unlike that clip, Travis’s video isn’t interrupted by thugs wielding clawhammers. Instead, it’s a whimsical fantasy in which Healy tours an abandoned city with a troupe of friendly ghosts.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” admits the singer, “and I didn’t know if it was going to turn out good, bad, or whatever.

“But making it was almost like a self-preservation during the quarantine, because when you’re not doing anything else, you’re watching the news and you’re reading Twitter and that was stressing me out massively.”

The finished video premiered last week, and Healy has shared with the BBC some of the sketches, storyboards and concept art that resulted in his first ever animated short.

Recorded at London’s RAK studios in February, A Ghost addresses Healy’s decision to return to music full-time after 14 years raising his son, Clay.

“Travis has always been around, but my main job has been being a dad – specifically the dad I never had,” says the singer, whose parents divorced when he was young.

In the song, Healy is confronted by the ghost of his future self, who sings: “It’s easier to be alive than hide under your pillow while your life is passing you by”. The image immediately suggested an idea for the video.

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“I started doodling on my iPad while we were recording,” says Healy, “And I thought, ‘What kind of ghost would I like to have in a video?’

“I’d seen the classic sheet ghost they used in the Casey Affleck film A Ghost Story and it really looked spooky – so I got some pictures from that, and I cut out a picture of me jumping with my guitar, and I made a collage.

“The rest of the video was back-engineered from there. I asked myself, ‘How do I get to that point, where I’m in an alleyway, playing with a band of ghosts?'”

How Fran Healy Drew Travis’s New Video On an IPad


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