Blue Spill designs “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars,” nominated for the 61st Grammy Awards for Best Music Film
Working closely with director Lili Zanuck in the London based edit, we delivered over seventy shots and sequences. The film is an intimate, revealing musical odyssey on the life and career of guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton, told by those who have known him best, including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison.
Our involvement in the film was quite diverse, from the creation of animation sequences to archival cleanup and restoration. We worked with Lili intensively throughout the film’s fine cut period to deliver a wide range of graphical elements, a selection of which are detailed below.
This particular animation sequence was one of the earlier ones we worked upon during the film’s London based edit with editor Chris King (Senna, Amy). Set within the recording studio, the sequence was driven by a collection of photographs. Cutting the images into the scene felt quite flat, so we explored a dynamic to keep the energy of the sequence. Driven by the music, we wanted to create some movement without being too gaudy. We find during these sequences that it is often the implication of movement, rather than the movement itself, which creates a seamless sequence.
We were presented with an array of wonderful archival photographs of Eric as a child, which were in various states of disrepair. Whilst we were keen for the photographs to retain some of their original textures, it was important for the damage not to distract the viewers eye from the narrative, which was quite sobering at this moment. As such, we made the initial repairs to the damage and then opened a dialogue with editor Chris King and director Lili Zanuck about extending the photographs, to eliminate the use of black bars left and right of the image. We were all enthusiastic about enhancing the cinematic possibilities of the sequences, and made a collective decision to extend the photographs. These varied dramatically in difficulty, some were simple extensions and others were scenic rebuilds. Most of these extensions also involved clean ups, sometimes on a purely technical level and others, as per above with Eric’s mother, were to compliment the narrative.
Final ImageDrawing Animation
Unbeknownst to us at the time, Eric had a rich background in art prior to focussing his talents on music. He had a vast collection of artwork which Lili was keen to breathe some life into. We took the sequence cut by editor Chris King and experimented with animating his pencil drawings. The sequence narratively sat in a relatively light moment, so there was scope to play with this without the sequence feeling too exaggerated for the film as a whole. However, as this was the only animated moment, it was important to keep the movement relatively subtle.
Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars was produced by Lili Zanuck, Scooter Weintraub, Larry Yelen and John Battsek and was finished at CO3 in London.
Title & Motion Design