Animation & Games student animates rappers’ music videos
Mal Bielecka, BA (Hons) Animation & Games student at Plymouth College of Art has been making their mark designing animated music videos, with their latest projects collaborating with artists RONEN and Dying in Designer.
The 21-year-old first tried their hand at animating music videos when RONEN, an emo rapper and producer based in Dallas, Texas, approached Mal via Instagram to animate the video for single Paranoia. Ron Ravitz, better known as RONEN, is a musician and producer who was born in Israel, but is now based in Dallas, Texas. RONEN released Paranoia in July 2020, with the song quickly racking up almost a quarter of a million listens on the music streaming service Spotify, of which he has 174,000 regular monthly listeners.
Mal said, “I first animated for RONEN back in April 2020. He reached out to me via Instagram after seeing a few short animations I had done which were in a certain style. When that video came out in July, I got a bit of attention from other artists and that’s when Dying In Designer got in touch with me about animating a music video.”
“I had already planned to do an animation for him so had started work on an animatic, a preliminary version of the video. Since I had made that, it didn’t take long to start editing and get straight into it. The ideas came directly from the artist and his girlfriend, we video called and agreed on the theme of flowers. They then proposed the rest of the storyline for Lovely based on what the song was about.”
Emo rap is a fusion genre of hip hop and emo music that stemmed from Soundcloud rappers in the mid-2010’s, blending characteristics of hip hop music, such as beats and rapping, with the lyrical themes, instrumentals and vocals commonly found in emo music. Emo rap has become one of the fastest growing new genres of music, topping the charts in Spotify’s 2018 Wrapped Up.
Dying In Designer, real name Bobby O’Brien, is an emo rapper from Chicago, Illinois signed to Hopeless Records, alongside other artists such as Sum 41, New Found Glory and Yellowcard to name a few. Boasting over 200,000 regular monthly listeners, Dying In Designer’s debut album Nobody’s Happy, released in 2019, delivers haunting songs about past relationships, depression and suicide. Lovely has over 1 million streams on Spotify with the music video available on YouTube.
“I used a software called Toon Boom Harmony Essentials for Lovely, rather than Procreate as I did for Paranoia. Thanks to some first year classes I already had some experience with it, but I must admit it was a learning curve. I’d been doing stop-motion all year, so I hadn’t worked with 2D animation much before. Harmony is a vector-based software - similar to Flash - so it allows for smoother and neater animation. I’m a very messy artist, so it was interesting seeing my style adapt to the program. The software has lots of features that I had to learn how to use, but once I got into the swing of it, it was very enjoyable.”
“It was definitely rewarding to make a longer, more complex animated music video. I worked hard every day to make sure I hit the deadline, so the progress was constantly visible and it was great to see it all come together.”
Mal, originally from Poland, moved to England at the age of nine and has settled in Plymouth. Starting their studies in Fine Art at a different university, Mal soon discovered that they wanted to focus on animation full time, which was when a friend recommended Plymouth College of Art.
“I didn’t want to look anywhere else once I saw the college’s amazing facilities. For stop-motion artists in particular, Plymouth College of Art has the space and resources to make your own armatures, puppets and sets. I love that we cover all types of animation in the first year and get to use all the professional software, lightboxes and green screen stations. It also wasn’t a problem when I recently decided to switch my focus to 2D animation, as the course leaders are so flexible with the style of work you produce.”
“One of the main things I love about Plymouth College of Art is easily Workshop Wednesdays, where you can sign up to various extracurricular introductory classes, every Wednesday, to explore practices like bookbinding, screen printing, ceramics or figure drawing. The courses change every week so there’s always something new to learn and it’s a great opportunity to bring other disciplines into your own practice and assignments.”
Inspired by nature and muted colours, second year student Mal notes painters and animators Allison Schulnik and Nick Cross as some of their favourite contemporary artists.
“I’m currently looking into ways of bringing stop motion into my animated music video practice, but for the remainder of my degree, I’m planning to get more comfortable with hand drawn animation and 2D rigging.”
Senior Lecturer and Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Animation & Games, Martial Bugliolo said, “Mal is an excellent student who has extensively experimented in all three mediums, from 2D digital, stop motion puppetry and claymation, as well as 3D CGI. Mal has chosen to specialise in 2D, in accordance with their freelance music video work and college modular coursework, as their chosen pathway.”
Keep up to date with Mal’s work on Instagram.