14 Aug, 2010

Arcade Fire’s Synchronised Artwork

Posted by: admin In: Creative Review

Back in 2007, director Vincent Morisset reinvented the music video online, with his interactive promo for Arcade Fire track Neon Bible. For the band’s latest album, The Suburbs, Morisset has now turned his attention to how digital music files could be more visually exciting…


Morisset has worked with designer Caroline Robert to create a digital artwork that appears when the album is played on mp3 players like the iPod or iPhone. The work deliberately echoes the pleasures of old vinyl record sleeves, where the song lyrics were often written out in full. Each track on the album has an individual image that appears on the iPod screen when it is played, with the lyrics of the song then appearing on the screen as they are sung.


“Win [Butler, Arcade Fire’s lead singer], wanted to create a version of the artwork that would be relevant in the digital world,” explains Morisset on his website. “Most of us now buy, share and listen to music through computers and portable devices. It seems absurd that it is still a single jpg that is attached to an album in 2010.”


“I thought about the relation we have with the vinyl cardboard cover or the paper booklet while listening to the songs. Flipping through the lyrics, looking at a band picture or a cool drawing related to a song while listening to it. With the mp3 player, we lost that. I wanted to find a way to get closer to that experience again.”


As with his Neon Bible video, part of the success of the Synchronised Artwork is its simplicity. Explaining how it works, Morisset says, “Tightly sync a series of images with specific moments in a song using the m4a format. Like some podcasters do, but with micro chapters for each line of the lyrics. In addition to that, we were able to add good old hyperlinks also synchonised to the song. This gives the possiblity for the band to add, at any moment, all kinds of references related to each song. They plan to change and update those links occasionally.”


The handwritten presentation of the lyrics on the screen works perfectly with the artwork that Caroline Robert designed for the album, which includes photographs shot by Gabriel Jones in the suburbs of Houston. To experience the Synchronised Artwork for yourself, head online to arcadefire.com, where it is included with the purchase of any digital download of the album.


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