Award-winning design studio Blind recently breathed life into lunacy for the chart-topping single “Crazy” from Gnarls Barkley. In collaboration with HSI wunderkind director Robert Hales, Blind delivered a dark, three-minute ride down the rabbit-hole, and into acclaim, heavy rotation on the MTV networks, and even some debate.
As the first single to ever be propelled to the top of the music charts purely by Internet sales, “Crazy” has a unique place in history. Its worldwide, breakout popularity created an intense, immediate demand for a companion music video. From the over 60 directors that pitched for this historic project, Hales won the support of the label and band with the concept for an animated Rorschach test (singer/songwriter Cee-Lo remembered the ink-blot tests from his childhood). But when the time came to deliver the goods at a breakneck, 17-day turnaround, Hales turned once again to Blind for their third collaboration. On two previous music videos for the band Jet, Hales had selected Blind for the distinct creative sensibility they bring to the table, and their on-budget, on-time delivery.
The video opens on a white sheet of paper. In complement to the hypnotic, rolling beat, black ink blooms into expressive, dynamic forms. The ink shifts and re-pours into symmetrical ‘€œtests’€, subtle hints of the lyrics buried within each. The duo that make up Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse, recur throughout: the side of a face, a crooning mouth. We slide from one to the next, the barrier between each vignette indistinct, in a firm, accelerating ride through the narrative. The forms evolve, and new ideas are introduced: hints of color add an emotional subtlety, a shock of scattering insects burst from a splattered drop.
“The goal was to create a world of your own interpretation,” explains Creative Director Vanessa Marzaroli. “In the ink forms, every viewer can and will see something different.”
To create and control the remarkable organic effect of ink, Blind used a combination of technical wizardry, and good ol’ fashioned getting their hands dirty. In a studio environment, they created and shot hundreds of ink splats, splashes, and everything in-between. “We had so much fun with it,” laughs Vanessa.
Nine animators worked 14 days straight to meet the deadline, combining, animating, and refining to the perfect balance of emotive ink forms, narrative flow, and face recognition of the stars.