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Villagers | That Golden Time

Villagers latest track ‘That Golden Time’ is a beautiful poignant piece of music, describing how we seem to live cocooned in a digital bubble, led to believe that there is always one more thing we need just out of reach. Lead singer Conor O’Brien created a fantastic brief, that included amongst other things, a visual treatment outlining the feel of the video and the idea of “algorithm blues”, one of the lines from the track.

Our director Rok Predin hit upon the idea that whatever we think will happen, technology holds us like a moth to the flame. Humans seem to have an inbuilt draw to technology that we just can’t seem to walk away from, regardless of the costs, both good and bad.

Alongside these thoughts, inspiration came from a wondrous piece of slow motion footage of a Dark Marathyssa moth, shot by Dr Adrian Smith of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The moth in the footage, shot at 6000fps captured the delicate nature, strength and agility of the insect. However what really captured the team’s eye was the golden shimmering scales and flecks that adorn the Dark Marathyssa body and wings, it felt too perfect an opportunity to miss. Rok alongside producer Richard Barnett had a strong feeling that a simple story about a moth, beautifully crafted, could look stunning and perfectly reflect the poignant lyrics of the song.

The basis of the video was simple; follow the journey of a moth flying towards a flame. However, the team wanted to luxuriate in the beauty and fragility of the moth, especially as it represents our frail journey with self control. The Dark Marathyssa is in reality only about 1.5cm in length with a wingspan of around 2.5cm. It’s found mainly in North America and Southern Canada, and has beautiful glistening markings. The team had to minutely study the composition and texture of the moth in order to recreate it in Cinema 4D, a fascinating process. When you get in close, the tiny hairs on the abdomen look like blurry pixels. Sitting against certain tree barks they literally disappear. Obviously there is a touch of poetic license in the video, the scale of the moth is a touch bigger, but having licensed Dr Adrian Smith’s footage, initially to use as reference, with the 3D model looking so good, we actually dropped a couple of the live action shots in as well. Try and spot them, there are 3 shots in all!

The plan was to always play the video fairly straight, leaning into a documentary style, but to coincide with the energetic lifts in the choruses. We needed to have progression, and that comes once our moth meets the flame. The video turns into the abstract, the inevitable meeting of moth and flame, future and past, life and death, glory and devastation, all dissolved into one ecstatic explosion. Trunk did a SFX shoot in Norfolk to capture the mesmeric particle systems. Rok Notes, ‘I didn’t want anything too digital, I wanted to embrace the organic randomness, so shooting at 240fps in 4K gave us some great options!’

Overall the project was a success in creating a moving image work that builds upon Conor’s vision for the song.  Working with Conor and discussing ideas and having the opportunity to really collaborate, shows how rewarding the process can be when people get together. Richard notes ‘Too often walls are put up between creatives rather than allowing them to chat, but once again our old friends at Domino showed trust, and alongside commissioner John Moule steering the ship, it was a really great process.’




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Label: Domino
Production Co: Trunk Animation
Dir: Rok Predin
Producer: Richard Barnett
3D Lead: Rok Predin
Artworker: Layla Atkinson
Live Action SFX shoot: Trunk
Stock Footage C/O: Dr Adrian Smith of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Commissioner: John Moule for Domino Records