Mike Winklemann aka Beeple is one of the most prolific and influential animators of this generation. Over the last five years, Beeple has created original animations and videos for some of the biggest names in electronic music, including deadmau5, Tiësto, Girl Talk, The Glitch Mob, Amon Tobin and Wolfgang Gartner. His original works have been featured in Wired.com, createdigitalmotion, and Pitchfork.com, and his animations have screened at onedotzero, Siggraph and Optronica,
The 33 year old self-taught artist offers all of his source files for free through Creative Commons to anyone who would like to use them, and his most recent visual collection “übersketch” is available to download (http://www.beeple-crap.com/vjclips.php) from his site using MediaFire.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Beeple to chat about his work.
What inspired you to get into animation? How has your approach to visual design changed over the years?
“I used to shoot more live action stuff but I found myself getting more and more frustrated about all of the things I couldn’t control when shooting live (actors, weather, crappy equipment, etc.). Slowly I began to realize that if I just did everything on the computer, I could have pretty much total control over everything. So I guess being a bit of a control freak is what mainly led me to focus on more animation and graphics design type work.
As for my approach to visual design, I’m not sure how much that has changed over the years. While the tools change and software become more advanced, your workflow will inevitably change but I still feel like I approach projects the same way. I usually have a very vague, fuzzy idea what I want to do and sort of just jump in and start experimenting and see where it goes. Then after an arbitrary amount of time I get tired of working on it and call it done.”
How did you get involved in the electronic music scene?
“I’ve always been really drawn to electronic music and the very precise syncing of audio and video has been a huge component of my work for quite awhile. I think music brings so much energy to visual pieces and is something that is really overlooked by a lot motion graphic artists.
I got into making VJ clips really just by chance as I was making short, abstract pieces of video and then sort of realized that they might be useful for VJ’s almost as an afterthought. Since I started putting this work out it’s been really awesome to see it used all over the world and by some of my favorite artists.”
“Why do you choose to give out your clips for free? What is the importance of creative commons to your creative process?”
I would make these VJ clips wether or not I was giving them out for free so I figure why not. It’s really awesome to see all of the uses people find for them. I also feel like this is my small way of sort of giving back to the community. There are so many people who put out free tutorials, free plugins, scripts etc. That stuff takes massive amounts of time and talent with no monetary reward. I feel like this is the least I can do to sort of give back a bit.
“Many of your short films and original animations touch on concerns about digital privacy and the changing nature of social media. Do you think animation and visual designs can change the mind of people and help inform them about social issues?”
Yeah I definitely think animation in particular can. We live in a very visual culture with the attention span of a fruitfly. I think animation has a unique ability to distill a complex idea down into something very simple that people can quickly process. I also think it’s one of the more entertaining ways to learn about things and that never hurts.
“As an artist, how do you use MediaFire?”
I use MediaFire to host the Creative Commons VJ clips that people can download for free. These are 1080p VJ clips that are very high quality so they are quite large (the last pack was 3GB). Having MediaFire host these clips was really awesome as the speeds have been blazing fast and super reliable. I would absolutely recommend this for anyone hosting very large files for the public.
“What emerging trends do you see in animation and filmmaking?”
You know, I really don’t know what the next big thing is gonna be. I think there are so many sort of tiny little sub genres in animation and filmmaking right now that it’s more about what you’re into at the moment. There are definitely bigger trends happening but with sites like Vimeo and Youtube where you sort of choose what you see based on your interests and style preferences, it’s easy to sort of get lost in the influences that you choose. I think this is a great thing and makes for a lot more diverse overall body work being put out.
What new technologies or tools are you excite about?
“I’m interested to see what is going to come out of some of these wearable VR devices like the Oculus Rift. While very much in their infancy, they are progressing extremely quickly I think they have the potential to completely change how we view video in the future.
Other than that I think the tools are changing each year and having done this type of work for a few years now, it’s crazy to see how far they’ve come. Things that were extremely time consuming or impossible just a few years ago are now completely automated. The software is getting better and better at fading into the background so you can just concentrate on the ideas.”
To see more of Beeple’s work, visit his site at http://www.beeple-crap.com/ , and make sure to download his newest clip pack “ubersketch” today!