Fan mail: An animator's tribute to Phishby Sarah Lang
Nick Setteducato spent three years of weeknights and weekends creating animated tributes to his favourite band.
The self-deprecating animator, photographer and short-filmmaker spent a decade as a guitarist in two US rock bands. Based in New Jersey, he fitted weekend gigs and tours around a six-year job as digital preservation photographer at New York’s Gilder Lehrman Collection, an archive of 70,000 items reflecting American history.
In 2008, while holidaying in New Zealand, Setteducato landed a job in Wellington as archival photographer and imaging specialist for Peter Jackson’s WingNut Films (and landed a girlfriend in his boss, Amy Brennan). There he photographs, scans, digitises and archives Jackson’s extensive collections of film, military and aviation artefacts. He also contributed historical research and visual elements to Jackson’s The Great War Exhibition, working alongside Weta Digital to develop techniques to colour black-and-white photographs.
Could the 38-year-old also be US rock band Phish’s biggest fan? Over the past 35 years, Phish has gained a cult following for its extensive touring, extended jams and tangential lyrics. In 2014, Setteducato taught himself everything from storyboarding to editing to create a two-minute animation, Flight of the Mockingbird, in which the faces of four US presidents carved into Mt Rushmore are replaced with the faces of Phish’s four band members. Brennan helped him build the puppets, props and sets. Using the “stop-motion” technique, he moved objects in small increments between individual frames, which were shot on their dining-room table.
After favourable feedback from fellow Phish fans, he began making the polished, five-minute stop-motion animation 2016: A Space Oddity. Loosely inspired by the band’s song “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”, and set to a montage of Phish tracks, the film follows the colonel as his rocket launches into space to destroy an Earth-threatening asteroid. Its four characters resemble Phish’s members, and there are nods to Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Posted on Vimeo, the clip earned praise from music and pop-culture websites JamBase, The A.V. Club and Relix, and got 20,000 hits in three weeks. Viewers are encouraged to donate to The Mockingbird Foundation, which provides children’s music education and is supported by Phish. “I’ve never heard anything directly from Phish, but friends who know band members have suggested they’ve enjoyed the videos,” says Setteducato, who’s planning a visit to the US with Brennan in August. “Obviously I’ve timed it so we can catch four Phish shows, which puts me at 40.”
It’s not all about Phish, though. His 23 videos on Vimeo span everything from a Taranaki-based, Wild West-influenced epic saga starring two dogs, to a series that summarises books using animated figures, backgrounded by pages from the featured book. Meanwhile, his animation of a man dragging a rock across a beach and up a cliff was one of six (from 1200 submissions) featured on Radiohead’s website and social media platforms to promote a new album. Recently, two US bands commissioned him to make music videos. “I’m no Walt Disney, but he started out doing little animations,” says Setteducato. “And I like telling little stories.”
This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of North & South.
Weight-loss surgery is becoming more common, but lifestyle and attitude changes are needed for long-term success.Read more
Māori food champions Kasey and Karena Bird share traditional family recipes that are ideal for Matariki.Read more
The MP made world headlines when she cycled to hospital to give birth. She talks about how this put her and what she stands for in the spotlight.Read more
The fourth Toy Story instalment is clever, enjoyable and refreshingly weird.Read more
In the wake of data-privacy scandals, Apple is beefing up protection for owners of its devices.Read more
We are pretty good about paying our taxes here, so why would we willingly go along with avoiding GST?Read more
New Zealand retailers hit by a GST rort that has been going on for at least two years hope officials, Trade Me, ministers and even customers will...Read more