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Music Video Project " Smile for me "

A still from music video "smile for me", 2019

I have wanted to make a music video for a long time. When the opportunity arose with Gentle bones' new single, "Smile for me," I was excited to both explore my artistic vision and serve as a director for the project.

The music video is about a girl who is stuck in a nightmare and is rescued by a clown friend from the bad dream. 

 "smile for me" album cover art by Mari Chung, 2019
copyright @ GB

 "smile for me" animated music video by Mari Chung, 2019

character sketch, 2019

When I first heard about the song, "Smile for me", two things popped up in my head : A clown and a smiley balloon.

Clowns always try to make people smile and happy. Clowns always have balloons and balloons are always with clowns. So I wanted to develop a narrative with these materials. So I wanted to make it personal, something meaningful and real to my client.

So I asked Joel(a.k.a. Gentle Bones), "What made you write this song?" And he answered, "I wanted to support my best friend who has depression."

That answer had decided the direction of the story that Clown(Joel) is trying to save a girl(Joel's friend) from the deep bottom of a nightmare(depression).

initial character exploration sheet, 2019

While I was developing the main storyline, I had the idea that the nightmare(depression) could be portrayed by the dark side of herself. But I wanted the dark side of her to look different from herself, but also the GB's fans would get she is the villain in this story at first sight. 

A still from "Smile for me.", 2019

A still from "Until we die.", 2013

A still from "Smile for me.", 2019

So I binged all his past music videos that had an internal villain to create a layered story - and discovered the rabbit mask villians from the song "Until we die".

  ( And pretty excited to read this kind of comments below :P ) 

During this entire, thought-out process, the story gathered together pretty quickly.

Therefore, I started to board  it out.

On this project, I had the freedom to experiment more with the layout of the scenes to create disconnected moods based on story.

For instance, using 2 different shots edited in 1 scene, or using a tiny 1:1 square resolution .

When I developed the story, I needed to consider that the entire plan was feasible in a tight schedule. My material was obvious, 3D, but I wanted to experiment with a 2D look in 3D. My plan was to drop the 3D rendering time and compensate with compositing. That became a challenge to visualize the final look compared against the initial 3D rendered look.

Sh012 breakdowns, 2019

The production sheet, 2019

Before we talk about the 3D part, let me explain it briefly. First, we need to build characters, set and props. Then we move to previs stage, which is layout that puts together the characters, props and camera in 3D. Then we animate the characters to bring the scenes to life. After, we light the scenes and do the final rendering, compositing and editing. I used Maya for the 3D part and Nuke for the compositing part in this project.

video copyright @ Mari Chung, 2019

I had both very limited resources with a small amount of time, so the process had to be very simple and smart. 


In the animation part, I intended the character’s movement to be cartoony and simple, based on the 2D looking character design.

With this music video, I had a clear vision to create a flat render look. So I did some fun testing. I collected all the different versions of playblasts and comped together like putting puzzle pieces together.

A rough test comping first pass, 2019

The different versions of playblasts, 2019

Nuke tree for comping, 2019

SH12 comping breakdowns, 2019

The test was a success, so I painted real rough color keys right before lighting/comping. It was sort of a map to guide me in the right direction.

rough color/light key sheet, 2019

SH03 comping breakdowns, 2019

Color is one of most important components to create the mood that best conveys the story. I used monochrome colors in the nightmare and a multicolored colors in the fun dream.

Aaaaand, I edited in Adobe Premiere to put it all together! Done!


It was a passion project that I enjoyed to work on and I’m looking forward to having another fun project like this in the future.


(And Joel sent me a video that it had broadcasted on TV.... LOL)

Live on TV, 2019

Thank you for Reading! 

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