Interview with Igor Burloff - the director of
plasticine anime video "Grace"

The original interview with Igor Burloff in Russian:

An unusual video clip for the song Apocalyptica was published in September 2008.

No information about the creators of this video neither before or after it was released. We managed to talk with the director of video clip "Grace" - the famous Russian clip-maker and director Igor Burloff.

Igor kindly provided photos of Apocalyptica and their clay counterparts for our site, and also answered our questions about the filming of the video clip.

plasticine anime Grace

Igor, despite the fact that you are the famous director, it is impossible to find information about creators of Apocalyptica's plasticine video for the song "Grace", not to mention the western sites. So spill the secret.

Who participated in work on this video clip? Please tell us about the film crew.

Igor Burloff: Russian media calls me a cult director, withdrawing advertising and clips for Russian popular artists. But I'm not sure that the West has heard of our stars.

I worked with Galina Lyutikova - absolutely fantastic lead animator. She can revive absolutely any subject!

And of course, our designer - Alexey (Mr. Alexx) Kondakov, a specialist in "2D" and "3D". He also works in cinema and television.

Post-production for video "Grace" was made by the same people who took part in the post-production of blockbusters "Day Watch" and "Wanted" (with Angelina Jolie). Also I collaborated with Timur Bekmambetov and even played a small role of the Dark Magician in the movie "Day Watch". We all have worked in "film production" for over 15 years.

Who came up with the idea to use plasticine for the video clip "Grace"?

Igor Burloff: After meeting with Paavo, we realized that we have the same opinion that plastic clay has the same qualities as the sound of a cello! In the end of our conversation Paavo repeated all the time: "Igor, think of plasticine! Think of plasticine!" So, if he had not, then this video would not have been...

How do you define the genre of the video clip "Grace"?

Igor Burloff: This is the Plasticine anime! Personally, I could not believe that the Japanese, with their hard work, did not think up such a simple idea! I spent a long time searching the Internet and honestly did not find an example. Nope!

the first in the world Plasticine anime

As far as I know, the song "Grace", written by Mikko, was intended for a special Japanese edition of the album "Worlds Collide".

Therefore, famous Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei was invited to collaborate. What was the reaction in Japan to this video?

Igor Burloff: We did the first in the world Plasticine anime, and seem to have done it very well!
We received a huge amount of feedback from Japan - this video really "shot" here! At least, I had messages about this, from Japan itself, and from England and Germany.

Was it easy to implement in plasticine the live musicians of Apocalyptica?

Igor Burloff: It is surprising that in the beginning of the work the creation of "portraits" seemed to us a fairly simple matter... But then the problems came that we had not faced while shooting the "usual" clips. For example, a growth of musicians who are above and those below? What is their hair color? What kind of clothes and shoes should they wear? This is not so important when you make the usual clip with human beings. Musicians in the clip play themselves, and this does not raise any issues and problems.

It has been fundamentally important to understand what musicians can do in the clip, and what we should not force them to do. For this reason, we composed four sheets with personal issues(questions) for each musician. There were strange questions, such as, "What animal you look like?"

Then I flew to Paris, where I met with the guys. Apo-guys were given lists of surveys, happily snapped up pencils and began fervently to write, peeping at each other: "And what did you write?..." These responses helped us a lot in our work.

On what basis did you choose the place of action for "Grace"?

Igor Burloff: Of course, Japan because of Tomoyasu Hotei, Apocalyptica - Europe. America was chosen because of Corey Taylor and other American musicians who collaborated with Apocalyptica. And we refined all the features of the clip in Paris. If this had happened in London the scene would have been near Big Ben!

The Statue of Liberty in the end of the video clip is reminiscent of "freken Bock" from the cartoon about Carlsson (this is a female personage from the famous Russian cartoon movie based on the book by Astrid Lindgren "Karlsson-on-the-Roof"), and in general, in the clip "Grace" there are a lot of associations with known films.

Igor Burloff: Yes, we had a lot of fun during the filming... We wanted to show the French cinematic spirit of Paris in the clip and the Japanese cinematic spirit of Tokyo, as for America, we all watch American movies so nothing more to say there!

But the main thing was - not to forget for whom we were doing the video! And so I had all the "stew" in one huge pot, so that people would not say: "The new video clip from Apocalyptica reminds me of this movie or that movie...", and so it was like now - "Plasticine anime? It's like Apocalyptica?"

"Internal" Apo-zeppelin is reminiscent of the mechanisms of the video clip - "En Vie / How far"...

Grace - the first in the world plasticine anime

Igor Burloff: There is a certain resemblance! We tried to adopt the rules of the game and exist in the "Apo-world". Such "Hi Uwe Flade!" (Director of the clip "En Vie / How far" - approx.)
And we honestly tried to create a "world of Apocalyptica", and when you do things honestly, it gets interesting.

A running drum? Where did the idea come from?

Igor Burloff: From the brain! :) And from the cool nature of Mikko!

And why do Paavo and Tomoyasu have green hair in the video clip? Not enough black clay?

Igor Burloff: Yes, not enough! But seriously, this is anime, though Plasticine. For example, in the anime hair and clothing of characters must fly during the movement. But Paavo's hair can not fly - he has a short haircut.

In the proposed scenario was there anything that caused a categorical "no"? Or, for example, someone from the "characters" said - I want to do this and this in the video?

Igor Burloff: My answer is both simple and shocking: Western musicians adhere to the concept: "You are the director. You are the professional. You do as you see fit. We have no moral right to advise professionals how to do their job." Mikko, even when I asked him what he thought being the composer of this song, replied: "Igor, I say this only because you asked me about it! You may ignore all that I say,... - you are the director!"

Honestly, at first it was wildly strange... The fact that people do not say "f*ck off". On the contrary, they are doing (and do!) everything that you need! They will tell, show, play for you as many times as you need. Yes, Apocalyptica played in an empty hall of the club "Tavastia" only for me!

Following the approval of the script did Apocalyptica see a ready-made video, or did you send it it pieces showing the individual episodes of the video?

Igor Burloff: Basic script ideas were negotiated in good faith with an English manager, which I showed in Paris. And further, we had only preliminary sketches on paper. Storyboards with commentary, then "animatic"...
... And finally the finished product!

I can say that Ken Hensley, for whom I was shooting a video recently, read the script only when he arrived in St. Petersburg for shooting of the film.
This is the West! I did not advise the Finns (if I was not asked!) which musical signs in which moment they must to play or which instruments in which song they must to use.

And what is "animatic"?

Igor Burloff: "Animatic" - is a storyboard, set to music.

It is needed in order to clarify the duration of episodes within the episode - to specify the duration of the scenes (for example, the transformation of "Moulin Rouge" into the spider), within the scenes - specific plans (eg, bouncing spit-webs Eicca).

Grace - the first in the world plasticine anime

Then in each frame we have to compute what Eicca movement will do, and what Hotei will do at this moment. Then it is necessary to paint these movements over the phases in order to subsequently withdraw: raises his hand - shoot a frame, lifts his hand - another shot, another movement - still frame, up the torso and arm - also shot frame by frame... And so on...

25 frames per second X 60 seconds X 4.5 minutes.

So, animatic, which we have shown to Apo, was about the tenth, but there have been about eighteen ...

You've heard Russian jokes about the "hot Finnish guys"? It is said that the residents of the Scandinavian countries are slow and pessimistic. Are you in agreement that this is certainly not true about our guys?

Igor Burloff: I have worked with quite a lot of Finns, with very professional Finnish filmmakers, cameramen, lighting. I make music videos, advertising.

Russians can learn from them about the quality of work. On one of my first projects with them, when I asked the question: "Is the camera ready?" The operator said: "Of course it's ready, we're quick - we're Finns!" and a conspiratorial wink. Later I learned that he is a Swede living in Finland. :)

Evgenia Melnikova
Lisa Crum (English translation)

Apocalyptica and plasticine anime "Grace" ©2009