Sad buffets, flower women and greaseproof paper, what makes a Plume of Feathers video?

One of our favourite things about the Plume of Feathers gigs is the illustrated videos accompanying each song. David Ayres talks to Stephanie Black about the illustrations and videos for the Plume of Feathers live show, where the ideas come from and how they’re made.

Plume of Feathers and LOCKS play the Half Moon, Putney, September 21st, 8PM. Tickets here: bit.ly/plume-of-feathers.

Q: Whose idea was it to create illustrated videos for Plume of Feathers?The plan was to create a 35mm slide show, so that the gigs would be a bit like a rather wayward lecture by a well-meaning enthusiast on the decline of pubs. However, the slide projector I had was broken and its replacement was digital, and the project spiralled out of all control! It does explain why the sequences aren’t moving in the earlier visuals.

Q: What is your artistic background?
I’m an illustrator, researcher and academic. I began by studying illustration at Glasgow School of Art, then went on to do an MA and then a PhD to really unravel what you can do with pictures and words in sequence. I’ve made artists’ books, worked to commission (such as book covers and food illustration), exhibited in galleries internationally, and made millions of postcards over the years. I never get bored of them.

Q: When you are not creating animated videos for Plume of Feathers what are you doing?
Fine wine.

Q: How do you create the videos? I notice they’re getting more complex and multi-levelled for the latest material?
It starts with a pile of drawings in my sketchbook to work out what the idea might be and how it might work as a counterpoint to the song, then taking it from there to produce whatever kind of imagery the song needs, scanning it all in, then messing about with it on the timeline in Premiere to make it more cohesive. They’re all different to reflect the characters, also I don’t want people to get bored! Sourcing photos of sad buffets for Davie’s Leaving Do kept me amused for hours.

Anders From Iceland was a bit more longwinded than that, even… it was scanned, sequenced, projected onto greaseproof paper, with that then filmed on a slightly decrepit camera that couldn’t keep up with the transitions and added its own motion to the film.

With regard to the most recent film I started layering up the original films as a photo story for One Year On, as it was conceived as the flower women from the First Date story out on the town a year later. They bump into some of the locals from the Plume of Feathers; the dedicated gig-goers will spot them! I’d like to explore combinations of live action footage, collage and drawings next…

Q: How are you involved during a gig? Will you be there on the 21st?
I press buttons on my laptop. Play, Pause, and Next, mainly. Of course I’ll be there! And am looking forward to it immensely.

Plume of Feathers and LOCKS play the Half Moon, Putney, September 21st, 8PM. Tickets here: bit.ly/plume-of-feathers. There’s a free pint of Youngs Bitter for everyone who comes and downloads the Youngs app. Get on it!