International Motion Art Awards: Rebecca Mohrlang

By David Schonauer   Thursday January 8, 2015

Are we living in the second golden age of the music video? Thanks to platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, the music video has experienced a renaissance, with a surge of creativity coming from veteran and budding filmmakers alike. Among the latter is Rebecca Mohrlang, a Seattle-based artist who creates three-dimensional illustrations out of recycled materials. Mohrlang had begun experimenting with turning her work into motion art when Dave Lutz, the musician behind the alternative/pop band Sage Run, asked her to make a music video for a haunting version of “Greensleeves,” from the band’s concept album “The Beginning and End of War.” The album, meant to be played front to back, is about the American Civil War, but its themes apply to war in general, and to bring them to visual life Mohrlang latched onto the idea of using newspapers to do what they have always done—tell stories. Her work was named a winner of the International Motion Art Awards 3 competition.


Project: music video for the band Sage Run
Created by: Rebecca Mohrlang

“I was intrigued with the idea that Dave Lutz was remaking the song ‘Greensleeves,’ which has been used in so many contexts to tell so many stories,” says Seattle-based illustrator and budding animator Rebecca Mohrlang. In this case, Lutz, the musican behind the alternative/pop group Sage Run, was using the song to reference the American Civil War in particular and conflicts in general on his concept album “The Beginning and End of War.” As she thought about how to illustrate Lutz’s ideas, Mohrlang came up with the idea of a narrative about a man in a World War I biplane who parachutes, literally, into the story of war.

That story is represented through the use of newspaper front pages as a background. In fact, the entire video was constructed from newspaper. Mohrlang’s illustration work often makes use of three-dimensional objects made from recycled items—“I like the idea of creating something beautiful out of something meant for trash,” she notes at her website—and using newspaper for the video struck her as appropriate. “Newspapers tell many stories of war, so it is fun to use them to tell the story in a different way,” she says.

She began by creating miniature 3D objects—the clouds, the airplane, the man—covered in newspaper. “Then I storyboarded the basic action so that I could photograph everything at the different angles with the different lighting needs,” Mohrlang says. “I shot everything as still images on a Canon 60D. After photographing all the individual elements, I deleted the backgrounds in Photoshop and brought all the bits and pieces into After Effects for motion.”

Mohrlang’s tale ends on a positive note: “I wanted to show how even over the course of a song, the story itself can change, hopefully implying that the story of war as we know it can also change,” she says. In the video, a stark scene is reborn with a symbol of hope. “The black-and-white nature of the newspaper helped to give everything a consistent feel and allow for the colors at the end to really pop out,” Mohrlang says.

The result was the longest motion piece the artist had created to date. “I've been painting for quite a while, and in the past couple of years I started approaching illustration with a more craft approach. I did one stop-motion piece, and while I loved doing that, it was incredibly time consuming. I learned After Effects with the hope that I could use that and some stop-motion techniques to give my 3D illustrations some simple motion.”

She’s also used that technique for her annual Christmas project—a card she decided to put into motion. See it below. See more of her work at Vimeo.


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