Myph 'Skoro' by Kiryl Nong
Rob Ulitski - 2nd Feb 2024
Belarusian director Kiryl Nong directs an emotional and transcendent promo for electronic artist Myph's track Skoro - a cinematic animated fantasy based around a magical train journey.
It begins on a snowswept station platform, a photorealistic Myph saying farewell to his girlfriend before she departs on the increasingly surreal adventure, inside and outside the speeding train.
The video was created in Unreal Engine, with Nong learning how to master the technology in order to bring to fruition a story inspired by his personal situation. It took him six months, working alone. And the result is a captivating blend of animation and motion capture, with a cinematic, otherworldly aesthetic, that is a faithful visualisation of the music.
But as the director explains, he was thinking about making the video for a long time even before the animation process began.
"I had the idea to shoot a live-action music video for this song back in 2017, but it was too ambitious for my technical skills at the time," reveals Nong. "Six years later, I found out that Myph (Vova Potapenko) had released his album with the song we wanted to make a video for. I was just starting to learn Unreal Engine at the time, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring my old idea to life, but this time as an animation.
"The idea for the music video is very personal to me. It's about letting go of the past, nostalgia, and the willingness to embrace the unknown. I was very sad to leave my hometown of Minsk, and I wanted to linger in it, even in a very distorted, unnatural form. I had long had a desire to make the narrative in one continuous shot and at the same time try to make it rich in events and feelings.
"It took me almost six months to make the music video while learning how to use the program. The basics of creating cinematics turned out to be pretty easy, especially since I already had experience with video editing. This helped me get started quickly and stay motivated.
"Strangely enough, the first thing I did was create the sets. I really wanted to find the right atmosphere before I started adding characters. As I started working in the sequencer, I kept discovering new things about the story and adding and changing elements along the way. At some point, I felt like it was time to focus on production.
"I decided to split the music video into two long shots, one in the winter city and one in the summer nature. However this decision didn't save me from the difficulties of working with character animation and camera. If I fixed something at the end of a scene, I could accidentally ruin the beginning, since it's all one continuous sequence.
"I recorded all of the motion capture in move.ai. I liked how simple it was to use, but it seemed to be better suited for dynamic movements, and the video has a lot of static shots, which caused a lot of jittering. I decided to clean everything up manually in Unreal Engine, and I may have gone a bit overboard. Most of the movements turned out very smooth, but I thought they still worked for the slow, surreal narrative. I created some scenes, like the flight over the forest, completely by hand.
"I learned that it's important to remember that you're creating an animation and obsessing over photorealistic look can lead to frustration and distract you from the most important thing: telling a story.”
Rob Ulitski - 2nd Feb 2024