“Heavy metal and hardcore music is very empowering, and I want my stuff to hit people square in the chest like that hits me in the chest.”
Jake Pemberton has been on YouTube for a long time. His channel currently sits at just over 2,000 subscribers, and features a unique name, which he recalls was inspired by his love for the anime, Naruto. “I watched a lot of Naruto, and Sasuke – who’s the broody, cool guy – had a lightning strike attack called ‘Chidori’ – or ‘One thousand birds’ because the electricity sounds like a thousand birds chirping,” he shares. “I just drove the dial on that up to eleven.”
Jake is an artist, animator, director, screenwriter and a general jack of all trades when it comes to creating his high energy, action-packed short skits and films. Each of Jake’s projects centre around hard-hitting and fast-paced action and comedy, similar to the work of one of his own inspirations, director Edgar Wright. His work tries to convey a sense of deep meaning behind some of the strangest and peculiar situations we may find ourselves enveloped in, as well as tackling some deep-routed and very prevalent topics in our modern society.
The use of puppeteering characters, rather than just regular animation, is a design style Jake has had from the beginning. “Animating like I do now was just born from necessity,” he explains. “I have always drawn stuff on paper, but before I was sticking characters to cardboard to make puppets on spindles and then actually filming them on camera. I was like, ‘well, I don’t know how to animate on a computer. I’m no Newgrounds kid. [I] guess I’ll do it like this.'”
The great energy Jake presents in his animations comes from his love of music, as he explains: “My first great love in life [is] heavy music, like metal and hardcore, which is very empowering, and I want my stuff to hit people square in the chest like that hits me in the chest”.
He goes on to explain how the smallest things he enjoys can have the biggest impact on his creative process, and how he wants to put the emotions he experiences into every project he produces. “The band Ingested put out a ridiculous song the other day called Impending Dominance,” he says. “I literally burst out laughing the first time I heard it. Not in a mocking way, but because sometimes the sheer brutality just inspires the most ludicrous joy in me. If I can share something like that with anyone, then that’s great.”
Each of Jake’s projects takes multiple months, sometimes close to a year, to complete. When asked what keeps him motivated during the production phase, he shares, “The true challenge of motivation is focusing on the things that are empowering, which I can make a reality. I love it to death, but it’s just cartoons on Twitter at the end of the day. So it’s about that, rather than trying to prove that I’m better/funnier/harder hitting than anyone else.”
Jake follows up on this by explaining some of his motivations and how it’s best not to compare yourself to who you’re inspired by. “I’ve got a mean competitive streak,” he says. “A lot of guys who make the kind of stuff I like haven’t made anything I’ve enjoyed in like a decade. There’s always a moment where I’m knee-deep in f*****g colouring pens and I’m like, ‘This is [going] to blow those guys [out of] the water.’
“There’s a lot of insecurity in that, though, [because] it doesn’t really matter how my stuff compares to anyone else’s.”
Jake is currently living life as a post-graduate, and when asked about the effect being outside a classroom has had on his lifestyle, he says:
“Suddenly, you’ve graduated. You’re in London. You have to work and eat and exercise and have a social life. You can’t cut up massive pieces of cardboard on the number three bus. But you can still draw. And, guess what? You’ve become better at drawing, and you’ve picked up Premiere Pro along the way, with all its lovely motion path and keyframe tools. Should you be using an actual animation software instead? Probably, but what I have and know how to use is Premiere, just like how all I knew what to do before was stick characters to cardboard and turn on a camera.
“Before you know it, you’re doing everything with that: drawing on the bus and the tube and in the office after work, scanning it in and manipulating it in all new ways,” he continues. “Fixed and awkward puppeteering evolves into characters with nuance and dynamic movement; streamlined, yet way more complex – and no less punky or charming because I’m still drawing them all with pens and paper. My last short, Moshpit Moves, is essentially the refinement of all those years of jankiness into one weaponised kick in [the] teeth, and it’s only going to get wilder from there, let me tell ya…”
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