Tapocketa Studio is a new indie UK animation studio who were recently commissioned by Faber Music to work with them and Keaton Henson, a musician, visual artist and poet. The brief was to create a single webpage animating Keaton’s artwork in the lead up to the release of 'The Tallowmere Annual', a collection of his works. Here, Trevor Young, co-founder and animator at Tapocketa Studio details the process and reflects on how Welcome to Tallowmere shows how not all landing pages are, or should be, created equal.
A Long Way From Galdovia
Starting work on 'Welcome to Tallowmere' took quite a mental leap from our previous project, a children’s interactive book. In a brief period of time we’d gone from the colour and pomp of the land of Galdovia in Galdo’s Gift to the dark and haunting town of Tallowmere. The two places linked only by a tree swaying in the wind that caught the interpretative eye of Jack Halsey at Faber Music. He saw it as something that would work, albeit with very different styling, for the motion they wanted to bring to the artwork of Keaton Henson, a musician and talented artist whose ink wash images echo the dark melancholy of his music. One of these paintings would be animated to create an online page that would build curiosity for the release of a book of Keaton’s artworks, writings and music (the reader can plug their headphones into the book to hear a specially composed track that accompanies the words and imagery).
Where to begin
The tree animation was the starting point. As time went on, we added animation to various other elements. Heavy clouds began to roll across the sky, telegraph cables swayed in the wind, birds darted across distant skies. Elements of the painting could be orchestrated into action at various intervals in the lead up to the book’s release. The image could evolve and that was an exciting prospect.
A single cryptic social post from Keaton opened the doors to his many fans who curiously mulled over what they found, exchanging excited queries over what it all meant and puzzling over what was about to arrive.
Another post from Keaton and his followers would find something strange had happened to the windows in the image. Intermittently a window would light up and become a bright cutout (alluding to images in the book that also contain objects in the image that have been ‘cut out’ to leave blank shapes). Then after a short time the window would return to it’s original state. Something had changed. Clicking on one of these windows slowly reveals a panel with an image of a long abandoned object; a hint to a story yet to be told.
All this set against the eerie soundscape of Tallowmere; distant howling, the bleak wind through the abandoned streets. Stay a while and you’ll hear Keaton’s soulful piano music begin to play, a dark serenade to accompany your visit to Tallowmere.
Here, a single online page could evolve and adapt over time to build a pathway to the final reveal of the book. A page that showed itself to be organic; changing and growing, hinting and enticing, adaptive and responsive.
Although an unfolding precursor to the main event, it showed that something that was in essence a landing page could become something of an artwork in it’s own right…
Extra info: Early stages of 'Welcome to Tallowmere' allowed visitors to register to receive notification of the final reveal. When revealed to be a book, visitors could click through to be taken to a pre-order page or, as it is now, purchase The Tallowmere annual.