Get your own Little Black Book.

Build your own personal news stream. Discover the latest work created that interests you, share your favourite stories and follow your favourite people and companies

Already have an account?


Not To Scale Animates a Grim Dystopia for James' 'To My Surprise' Promo

double E communications, 1 year, 10 months ago

Director Kris Merc channels anime & propaganda art into new music video

Not To Scale Animates a Grim Dystopia for James' 'To My Surprise' Promo

Film and animation studio Not To Scale and director Kris Merc, recently teamed up with the band James to create the animated music video for the band’s hit song 'To My Surprise,' which premiered today. Based on a concept by Not To Scale’s founder Dan O’Rourke and director Kris Merc, the film is inspired by elements of anime, propaganda art, Diego Rivera’s murals, and graffiti paintings, the video is loaded with imagery that reflects modern society in a hyper-real, borderline dystopic way. With a ‘less-is-more’ style that emphasizes blackness and the gesture of a brushstroke, the film portrays and deftly weaves together issues such as the war economy, the culture of distraction, gun proliferation, class inequality, and extreme consumerism.

James is an English rock band from Manchester, known for its hit singles such as 'Come Home,' 'Sit Down,' and 'She’s a Star.' Regarding his partnership with lead singer Tim Booth, Merc comments: “He’s an amazing collaborator and artist, totally supportive with strong suggestions that improved the film.”


The narrative was central to the creative process, informing both the animation and design. Starting from the idea of a powerful female lead, the team fed off the momentum and emotion of 'To My Surprise' to bring this dark world to life and to create a story where bright, spiritual, Tantric visuals could then overcome these darker themes. Overall, according to Merc, the narrative culminates in the question “what if love was the driving force of our cultures and interactions?”


Merc adds: “It’s almost documentation of certain cross roads that we, as a society, find ourselves in; it's a snapshot of this current time; it's a cautionary tale that celebrates the human will to strive for better when faced with what seems like insurmountable odds.”



Animation Company: Not To Scale

Animator: Marika Cowen, Tyler Dibiasio, Noella Borie, Mitchell Zemil

Animators: Alex Krokus, Jordan Bruner, Michael Nappi, Barry Bruner

Designer: Angelica Alzona, Celine Desrumaux, Brett Thompson

Designers: Jordan Bruner, Genae Parks, Kris Merc, Alex Mercado

Storyboard Artist: Michael Marsicano


Editor: Kris Merc, Lee Gingold

Post Production / VFX

Compositor: Lee Gingold, Jordan Bruner

Production Company

Director: Kris Merc

Executive Producer: Eve Strickman, Dan O’Rourke

Producer: Katrina Lofaro

Production Company: Not To Scale

Category: Music video , Short films

Genre: Animation