Underground Film Journal

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Music Video: The Hidden Cameras: A Miracle

By Mike Everleth ⋅ January 8, 2011

Daniel Barrow has one of the most intriguing animation styles I’ve ever encountered. This is the first time I’ve encountered it, though, in the music video “A Miracle” by the band the Hidden Cameras. Technically, you could call this traditional “cel animation,” but what Barrow really does is draw on clear sheets, then layers and moves those sheets underneath an overhead light projector. The projected end result is very painterly and makes you marvel at the coordination needed to manipulate the cels.

This is an animation process that Barrow performs live, but also sometimes captures his performances in films and videos such as this one. This particular video really captured me during the headphones sequence, in which two hands, two halves of a headphone and lettering swirl about a young boy’s head as he lies in bed.

Young boy wearing headphones being terrorized by spirits

If you watch it again, pay particular attention to the way the word “suffering” is animated above the moving headphones, where it’s not just one word drawn onto one sheet. Instead, it’s spread out on a couple of sheets — at least two — that fit together when positioned properly on top of each other. There’s some really intense planning going into each sequence.

What’s also interesting is how Barrow is using an outdated piece of equipment to create this animation, and his art at the same time has a very old-fashioned quality to it. Those two concepts blend together rather nicely for a video that seems old and timeless at the same time, but I’m pretty sure this was produced around 2003, so it’s not that old at all.

In addition to animation, Barrow also draws for still images. You can check out his lovely website for samples of his artwork, which includes a set of trading cards about oddball artists and performers, such as Wayland Flowers and Madame, Rip Taylor, Margaret Keane, Charles Nelson Reilly and Liz Renay.