It took thousands of illustrations to make the incredible new video for Bob Marley’s iconic song. We talked to the artists, Octave Marsal and Theo De Gueltzl, to learn about their process and inspiration.
Q: How much research did you do—into Bob Marley’s life and into Rastafarianism?
A: We started with a pretty good knowledge, due to the fact that we both love Bob Marley, his music, and what he stands for. But when the project got started, we did dig much deeper, through reading, watching documentaries, and also taking an amazing trip to Jamaica last July to work on the synopsis for the animation.
Q: Did the Marley family and the director come to you with a detailed concept, or did you have a lot of creative control?
A: We initially came to the family with the idea to do an animation music video featuring thousands of original drawings, to be released on February 6th to celebrate Bob Marley’s 75th birthday. They loved the idea, and chose “Redemption Song.” We loved that choice, being that it was the last song he ever wrote. Then, throughout the process, they were a creative partner, leaving us creative control but giving us some guidance as well.
Q: Who were your main points of contact, and what kinds of comments would the family have?
A: The two main contacts were Cedella and Ziggy, who, supported by their own teams, connected with our producer, Fabien. Each time we had something to show (the synopsis, new drawings, short cut of the animation, etc), we would share it with them. The feedback was ultra-positive from their end, so we did not have to readjust much. The piece that required their input the most was the ending stadium scene, to make sure we got that right.
Cedella and the Marley’s family gave us lots of freedom on this project. They were very supportive with our interpretation of Redemption Song.
Q: Is the video really comprised of 2,747 drawings, whittled down from over 6,000 pages? Is it true that the project took you four months of working 10 hours a day, seven days a week? Did you anticipate that amount of work? Have you ever worked on a project with that type of volume?
A: Yes, the project took four months all together, at that kind of work pace. It was an incredibly intense schedule to stick to, due to the February release. The fact that we have a great team in our studio—split between Paris and the South of France—was super helpful, as the two of us would not have been able to pull it off without them. We also got great support from Mathematic, a fantastic award-winning production company based in Paris with a strong expertise in animation.
Q: How frequently did you listen to Bob Marley while you worked?
A: Very often! We’ve listened to Bob pretty much each day, and we would be curious to know how many times we listened to “Redemption Song” during that period!
Q: Were you Marley fans to begin with?
A: Yes, we were both massive fans, and feel so blessed and humbled to be a part of his 75th birthday anniversary. The Marley family is wonderful, and we feel we’ve developed a strong bond forever.
Q: One of the most memorable images was the Black Mount Rushmore, with Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie, Malcom X, Martin Luther King and Bob Marley. Which images are particularly special to you? Are any of them hanging up in your studio or home?
A: While there are several strong scenes in the animation, the “Black Mount Rushmore” seems to be the one that sticks the most. It’s definitely a climax in the flow of the music video. What is the most special to us are the original drawings, pulled from various scenes. It would be great to have an exhibit of key drawings from the animation.
Q: What was the most difficult aspect of the project, and the most rewarding?
A: The most difficult aspect of the project was to keep a rhythm of production that was always precise but factorial. The most rewarding was to work for a prophet.
Q: Could you explain the symbolism of the “redemption lion” that’s on these shirts, sweatshirts, bag, and blanket?
A: The lion symbolizes the force, the spirit of Rastafarian and the contact with animals and nature. He is also directly linked with Bob for us. We were thrilled to have incredible feedback from everyone, from Chris Blackwelll to the entire family and the public. Bob is even closer to our hearts now.
Q: Are there any parts of the video that you’d like to point out? Any hidden symbols to watch for?
A: There are a few messages and symbols which are harder to spot. For example, we’re not sure if many people noticed this, but at the beginning of the video the zoom in on the earth is zeroing on Ethiopia, while at the end, we leave the Earth from Jamaica.