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[Premiere] Hippo Campus Become a Simulation in Their New Music Video

For the song, "western kids," animator and director Najeeb Tarazi 3D scanned the band, then placed them inside the interface of some 3D graphics software for some meta-CG fun.

Kevin Holmes

Screenshots via

Members of the band Hippo Campus find themselves having some meta-CG fun in their new music video for "western kids," which sees them cavorting about inside, of all places, some 3D animation software. The video is directed by former Pixar Technical Director Najeeb Tarazi.

"We met Najeeb through our label Transgressive and fell in love with his portfolio," the band says. "His style of animation had this really raw vibe about it that felt really unique. It seemed perfect for us to convey the blurred lines of reality that 'western kids' critiques in [the] 'age of excess.'"

To turn band members into CG versions of themselves, Tarazi filmed them in a studio on three 3D depth capture cameras. These scans were then used to place the band inside the interface of an animation program, where they start to play around with the tools and panels, interact with the graphics, and influence the video and their experiences in it.

Behind-the-scenes. Images courtesy of the artist.

"The idea initially came when I was first using the Kinect and spending endless hours in animation software." Tarazi tells Creators. "One day I was listening to Washed Out and did a slow dolly through my own face to the music. It just delighted me. The truth is that when you work in CG, you literally spend years of your life inside of these software interfaces and they become their own little worlds of obsession. I think most 3D animators can relate."

In the video this world is what's known as "'previs' graphics"—previsualization graphics that are used to help envision scenes in pre-production. But for the video they become the end product, a style unto themselves, creating a lo-fi vibe that's present in the unprocessed aesthetic of the depth capture technique—and in the low poly landscapes, oceans, and pre-worlds the band fly, float, and sail through.

It's a style that Tarazi says is not only a homage to the tools of CGI, but is also a nod to the cutout animation of music videos like Sting's "Love is the Seventh Wave" and Aha's eternally awesome "Take On Me." "I felt like we were evolving those more old-school media." notes Najeeb.

Behind-the-scenes. Images courtesy of the artist.

The lyrics of the song also feed into the visuals, with the song a sarcastic exploration of the way people are want to show (off) their best selves, and best lives, on social media. "A fun romp through 3D software felt like a perfect match for the exploration of artifice in the track." explains Tarazi. "For a long time I've wanted to make a video set in a 3D graphics software. Most people have never seen graphics software, even though computer graphics are used to fake so many of the images we see in daily life. And in particular I've been interested in 3D scanning human performance and using it to corrupt the flawlessness of fake 3D worlds."

Check out the video below.

Hippo Campus's debut album, Landmark, is out now on Grand Jury Music. Download or stream it. Find out more about the band here, and see more of Najeeb Tarazi's work at his website here.

You can see Hippo Campus on tour at the venues and dates below:

6/29: Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
7/8: Duluth, MN @ Bayfront Festival Park
8/2: Chicago, IL @ Reggies (Lolla After Party)
8/3: Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
8/9: Denver, CO @ Levitt Pavillion
8/12: Bellvue, CO @ Mishawaka Ampitheatre
9/9- 9/10: St. Louis, MO @ Loufest
9/24: Las Vegas, NV @ Life is Beautiful
9/30: Milan, Italy @ Tunnel
10/3: Berlin, Germany @ Privatclub
10/4: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Bitterzoet
10/6: Brussels, Belgium @ Ancienne Belguique
10/7: Paris, France @ Les Etoiles
10/9: Bristol, UK @ The Fleece
10/10: Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms
10/12: London, UK @ Koko
10/13: Manchester, UK @ Manchester Gorilla
10/14: Dublin, Ireland @ Academy 2
10/15: Glasgow, UK @ G2
10/26: Bloomington, IL @ Castle Theater
10/27: Louisville, KY @ Headliner's Music Hall
10/28: Indianapolis, IN @ Deluxe @ Old National Centre
10/30: Fayetteville, AR @ George's Majestic Lounge
10/31: Oklahoma City, OK @ ACM Performance Lab
11/2: Dallas, TX @ Trees
11/3: Austin, TX @ Mohawk
11/4: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
11/6: Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
11/7: Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
11/9: Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder
11/11: Gainesville, FL @ High Dive
11/13: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
11/14: Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater
11/15: Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls
11/17: Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
11/18: Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom

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