Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Ron Boustead animation and beyond
First, a taste of Carlos Vargas’ incredible work:
And now, how it’s done, by: Carlos Vargas:
It’s funny the way I started my career as animator, I was basically unemployed and was trying to find a way to do something that I something felt I was good at and not just “another brick.”
The idea of becoming an animator came across when watching this movie called “Catch Me If You Can”. I thought “OK, if this guy could be a pilot, a lawyer, a doctor… I can be an animator! I just need to learn how to do it, but at least I know how to draw”. So as a frustrated musician, I sold my gear in order to get a computer and a tablet (for drawing). I am very well-known for being a self-motivated person, so when an idea crosses my mind nothing can stop me from doing it. I took my chance and watched all the tutorials I could find on Youtube… so yes… Youtube was my college. It took me about two or three years to learn, or at least to have the feeling I could create something decent.
And just for the record, is not like I didn’t do anything else for 3 years, I still had to find a job… I had to pay bills!
Since I was a kid, I always thought that it would be cool to see more bands go animated. I remember thoroughly enjoying every time I saw some cool bands on The Simpsons, I just never thought I was going to be able to do that one day. When I got the tools to do it, I went for it immediately.
My very first animation was a music video for my all-time favorite band, Pearl Jam, and their song “Gonna See My Friend” was the song I picked from their latest release at the time. The band was coming to town so I thought of creating this video for them and doing the impossible — passing it to them. After several months working on the animation I set forth to accomplish my mission and gave them a DVD with the animation. I came back to the hotel the day after they played to try to ask them if they watched the video, I saw Mike McCready and asked him and he said, “Did you do that?… that was hilarious!” They even uploaded it to their official website for a couple of days. That was huge! That very moment was when I thought, “Maybe I’m good at this”.
About finding the most attractive elements in an animation, I have two ways to see this, one is when I’m working for someone, I think of what would be attractive for a client — in this case is like I try to read their mind and understand their sense of humor in order to deliver something that meets their expectations; the other way is within my own projects, I always try to exaggerate things on characters or make fun of situations, something that the audience is not expecting to see, like having Dave Grohl driving an ice cream truck or Eddie Vedder wearing pajamas… all this without crossing the line of course.
My Artistic Process:
I need to understand what the goal is, so the very first step is to choose the style of drawing. For clients, “Looney Tunes” or “The Simpsons” are all the same. You need to guide them a little bit and then I have to understand the story of what they want in order to create a storyboard to make things easier and remember everything, most of the time I work on different projects simultaneously so it’s easy to forget things.
For the process of animation, first I start drawing the characters, once I get them all finished I proceed immediately with the animation and start doing the backgrounds according to the specific scene I’m working with. Most of the time I have to draw that background in different angles, then I start animating the characters; the trickiest part here is to animate the expressions on the characters… eyes blinking in the right moment, lip-sync, and all that has to be synced with their body movements as well.
Once it’s all done I start editing everything on a video editing software, so basically, here is where I do the final touch up on the animation and where I add the audio (music, sfx, voice over).
Finding My Way:
I made these first few music videos (FF and PJ) and after a while I noticed that I could use them to promote my own work — not only for music videos, but to show that I can make illustrations, animate shows and create characters. Most of the people contacting me ask for a music video of their band.
I think you really catch the attention of an audience by showing an animated music video more than a “camera filmed” one — to me they all look the same nowadays. I guess cartoons are not just for kids anymore.
Why Music Animation?:
We all feel identifiable with music. We all have this passion for either a specific team or a style of music. I love both things, sports (specially soccer) and of course music, I’m still one of the few persons on earth that is still buying albums.
Where My Work Has Been Featured:
Many places… local TV, radio stations websites, websites from all around the world, which to me is of course pretty cool. The weirdest place where I’ve seen my cartoons was a couple of years ago, when Sony music was using “my” Foo Fighters video on its different social networks to promote their EP, Saint Cecilia; or also when I saw this Asian website selling phone cover cases with my cartoons printed on them.
I’ve worked with many musicians, mostly independent artists as well as working with Ron Boustead, a well-known Jazz producer and singer.
If you enjoyed, please recommend by clicking the heart below
In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra