TheGrandVezir talks us through making the stop-motion video for Dwin, The Stoic’s ‘Happy Song’

Edwin Madu came to me about 4 months ago, around the end of February, with an idea; he wanted to make a stop-motion video for one of the songs off his new album, Heavy Heart (out July 11th). In the chat I was like: ‘sure sure, I fit run am. small tin’, but in my mind: ‘holyshit holyshit holyshit’.

In retrospect, it was serendipitous, as the final product, which premiered July 8th, is currently the longest (both in terms of runtime and time spent in production), most challenging, and most rewarding project I have had the pleasure of working on, so far.

So join me as I try my best to take you through the process that turned that idea into a video.

Two things had to be locked down before production could go into full swing;
1. Story: After a bit of back and forth, we settled on a story that we felt best conveyed the emotions that the character in the song was dealing with according to the lyrics.
2. Runtime: Absolutely essential in guiding frame rates, and story beats (what happens when)

We settled on these and then the ball came to my court and took an extended residence permit. I went ahead to storyboard the entire sequence, trying my best to visualise how the action would play out. We wanted action to be kept minimal to allow composition, framing and camera movements to be the main drivers of the story and I had to take account of this while storyboarding.

Storyboard 1.
Storyboard 2.

Storyboarding gave me a rough idea of the figures (characters and props) I’d need to make, and then bring to life by the magic of animation. These are what we call assets.

Assets he played with for the idea of 3D assets for some scenes.

Armed with this rough list, I headed into the workshop and began fabricating. The instant camera sequence was not part of the original story. It was originally going to be a regular picture frame but I happened to hop on Instagram that day and I saw a sponsored post featuring the Instax mini and that was it. Next came the ‘good times’ sequence for which I had to reach back to Home Economics days to weave this picnic mat, and now, characters! Contrary to what you may see on social media, I actually did not base any of the characters on any person in real life. Making the cut-out puppets was particularly challenging because of all the rigging involved. That reminds me, I have to replenish my spool of armature wire.

Making the iconic Danfo at a scale that would allow the protagonist ‘sit’ inside it was another mini problem I had to deal with, and as with all the difficulties I faced in this project, I came away from the challenge like Ali did in Manila. I personally think the ambulance is one of the finest assets I have ever made across all projects. The hospital facade and sliding OR doors were assets I also enjoyed building. Stressful, because of all the line work, but fun in the end. A few more models and most of the assets were ready. The true final number of assets can only be ascertained after principal photography is done. To that end, I give you;

This is not my first rodeo, but so far I have found that the main animation process, i.e., the actual ‘position-take picture-move-take picture’ process is not the most stressful for me. It’s the fabrication process. Why am I saying this? Once I was done with fabricating, save for a few challenging sequences like the writing sequence at the beginning, the animation was pretty smooth sailing and I think I was done in a week or so.

Yes. In case you were wondering if it’s really true, stop motion is made by incremental movements of puppets and props and taking a picture of the poses as you move the objects. There are no shortcuts. I do love any chance I get to animate on 2s (meaning I get to take half as many shots), but that’s about it. It is an exacting technique and I love it so much. After the animation, I did a frame by frame review of the entire short, adding and subtracting frames wherever necessary so that it matched the story beats and lined up nicely with the audio. When all this was done, I exported the file.


I brought the export into Premiere Pro as well as a high-quality rip of the Happy Song, and through the magic of video editing and motion graphics, created the final video. Several passes to make sure there is no jank anywhere, and it was ready for export from Premiere Pro. Not to be dramatic or anything (sha o), but I definitely exhaled especially when I clicked the export button to bring a four-month journey to its end. If you’ve come this far in the post, I want to thank you for indulging me. I hope you have also checked the video out on Dwin, The Stoic’s youtube channel

I also have a channel that you should totally check out. I’ve got some things on the way that should greatly increase my upload frequency going forward. Twitter and Instagram are the easiest ways to reach me with an idea you think I should try animating or better, a commisioned stop motion project.

Article originally featured onTheGrandVezir’s Medium page.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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