This is an animated music video—half of one—for the song Zombie by DAY6. It is also a portrayal of my own struggle with feelings of depression (embodied by the cute characters' struggle), and a visual experiment that tests the use of cuteness as relevant visual communication device.
This work was produced in the Visual Communication Honours degree at the University of Technology Sydney.
Design, Animation, Illustration
Jisu Im, Andrew Chen,
Adrian Chin Quan, Gabriel Clark
Cuteness can cultivate empathy and make difficult topics more accessible.
Everyone loves cute things, but cute things often seem shallow at first glance. This project applies the aesthetic of cute as a powerful way to portray feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. The intention of this video is to open up discussion around both mental health and cuteness as a relevant aesthetic.
Why mental health and why use cuteness?
2020 has been an irrefutably crazy year. Millions in quarantine are experiencing declining mental health. Despite this, mental health is still gravely misunderstood. For those affected, it takes great emotional energy (which is in super short supply) to open up about their struggles, and ask for care. One of the qualities of cuteness is its ability to demand tenderness and protectiveness, which makes it an effective device to communicate this vulnerable state of mind.
Using cuteness, I say, here I am, pathetic and vulnerable, but I also ask, am I still deserving of care and love? My own feelings of inadequacy and helplessness are symbolised through the story and cast of cute characters in order to offer a relatable and cathartic viewing experience for those experiencing similar struggles, and those whose care they seek.
Design development decisions were mostly made to push the cuteness of the characters further. The cuter the character, the more the audience would empathise with them.
Character iterations to final character sheet
Left and below:
Early styleframe experiments, in grayscale to ensure contrasting values, and establish appropriate hierarchy.
The focus of this sequence is the cute characters, so highly textured collage environments were used to contrast with them.
This was a highly personal and emotionally confronting project, but ultimately, I wish to impart that all creatures , big and small, pathetic and not —even if they think they are unworthy— are deserving of love and care.