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Throne 'Tharsis Sleeps' by Nicos Livesey & Tom Bunker

Luke Tierney - 20th June 2014

What would it look like if the embroidery stitching on baseball caps were images, and those images were like the individual frames of an animated music video? It's an amazing idea, but so far-fetched that could never actually be achieved. Only, that is exactly what Nicos Livesey and Tom Bunker have managed to do.

Their remarkable, borderline-unbelievable video for Tharsis Sleeps by Throne - Nicos is lead singer of the band – is a fast-moving pulp sci-fi tale of Earth inhabitation of Mars by dint of nuclear explosion. It is also entirely created in real embroidery. Every one of its 3,000 frames was stitched.

This jawdropping, head-shakingly insane project took Nicos and Tom eight months to make, and a Kickstarter campaign to enable them to complete it. Each frame was drawn, then exported via embroidery software to machines that replicated the images in stitching on black denim (see behind the scenes pics in the photo-carousel above).

What an achievement. And the much-deserved benefit of the method is that not only can people watch this again and again, and then freeze-frame, it's also now possible to own frames from the video. They are for sale at

And we asked Nicos some questions about the project:

Promo News: How does an idea to stitch over 3000 frames even come about?

Nicos: Well, your dad takes you to a boat show when you’re about 12 and buys you a hat with your name stitched into it, you then get left to watch an embroidery machine do it’s work for 40 odd minutes, while dad goes a buys a new bilge pump. That crazy machine mesmerizes you and embeds in your mind.

Fast-forward 15 years and you’re then making embroidered band patches on a friend’s sewing machine, during that process it suddenly clicks that this can be animated!

You make a few tests to see if it works, realize it does. Then sit back and think “Am I stupid enough to make this into a 4 minute animation?”

Did you create the animation first and then transfer to embroidery?

Exactly right. All the animation was made and then embroidered. We wanted to animate the whole film before embroidering anything, but that never worked out due to timescales. So we ended up embroidering shots as we went.

What was the process you used for the embroidery was it done by hand?

I would have loved to do it by hand, but that would be even more insane then what we did. The embroidery was all done on 3 x Brother PR1000e embroidery machines and to get each frame to embroider you had to follow this process:

  • Animate / draw each frame
  • Export each frame as an image
  • Import each image into Wilcom DecoStudio embroidery software & digitize image into a stitch format.
  • Export this embroidery file, which can now be read by the machines.
  • Cut denim / backing material & hoop materials into embroidery frame / place into machine.
  • Load embroidery file into machine & embroider out the frame

Repeat 3000 odd times.

At what point did you realize a Kickstarter was necessary to finish?

It was about half way through the animation. We hadn’t embroidered anything, didn’t have any materials, had problems with the digitizing, and needed to find a studio to run the machines 24/7 without noise complaints. It was all up in the air at that point! Kickstarter was mentioned a few times by people, so we thought lets give it a go! And we are glad we did! The support from people was insane and we can’t thank everyone enough.

What were the influences for the story? When was it written?

It was about a year ago the story was first conceived

The story was based around the song Tharsis Sleeps that I wrote for Throne. I wrote the song when reading a lot about Mars, which took me to it’s Tharsis region, which is a region on Mars that is home to the largest volcanoes in the solar system. I then dove deeper into theories of terraforming planets and adjusting their atmospheres to make them habitable for human existence. Mars needs to be heated up to make it habitable, much like what we have done accidentally on Earth via pollution and greenhouse gases. Throwing a nuke into the dormant volcanoes, causing them to all erupt, thus heating the red planet sounded like a fitting narrative for a big riff.

Was there finite amount of colours available, how hard was it to pick them?

We chose six colours in the end as the first embroidery machine Brother sent us was capable of doing 6 colours, so that made that decision for us. Thread wise there is a HUGE amount of choice and I didn’t know where to start. Brother recommended Madeira Threads, so I got in contact with them, who guided me through a world of thread variety I didn’t know existed. We settled with the stunning Frosted Matte threads the film was created in.

Was the project more work than imagined by the end? Worth the results?

The project was a ridiculous amount more work than I first imagined YES! Originally the film was only meant to be a 90 second black and white abstract piece!

It’s our faults for being too ambitious, but I think people like it.

Luke Tierney - 20th June 2014


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Nicos Livesey & Tom Bunker
Posy Dixon
Dan Keefe
Nicos Livesey
Executive Producer
Harry Hill


Camera operator
Stefan Iyapah
Camera operator
Michalis Livesey
Camera operator
Theo Nunn


Lead Animator
Blanca Martinez de Rituerto
2D Animator
Tom Bunker
2D Animator
Elisa Ciocca
2D Animator
Anne-Lou Erambert, Duncan Gist
2D Animator
Dan Hamman
2D Animator
Nicos Livesey
2D Animator
James Martin
2D Animator
Azusa Nakagawa
2D Animator
Nuno Neves
2D Animator
Joe Sparkes
2D Animator
Joe Sparrow
2D Animator
James Turzynski
3D Animator
Luke Howell
3D Animator
Sam Munnings

Other credits

Head of Embroidery

Jen Newman

Luke Tierney - 20th June 2014

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