Virtual Chinese label and pop band RiCH BOOM launched last year to huge acclaim in China. The band – conceived by online video platform iQiyi – has recently released its second official music video. Following a catchy first single entitled 闯, the virtual band slows it down a pace for its second promo HIGHLIGHT, a love story that pushes the boundaries of reality.
Animation studio Red Knuckles was called on to help build RiCH BOOM. With the online video platform creating the initial concept, it was up to creative directors Rick & Mario to develop the overall look and feel, finalising the avatars for their epic appearance. The team’s signature style echoes through the six band avatars – lead singer K-ONE, drummer RAINBOW, bassist PAPA, Rapper 胖虎 (Big Mau) and DJ / producer P-2 – but with a twist on classic animé.
The duo was tasked not only with creating the characters’ final forms but realising them specifically for the Chinese market. Speaking of such considerations, Rick & Mario comment: “This project was particularly exciting because it was a chance to work on a brand-new band with a whole new set of personalities and aesthetics. Something that was discussed a lot was the softness of characters, not making them appear too rough or aggressive – even Big Mau. We also had to be aware of not adding any tattoos or earrings on the male characters as every detail can be perceived with a potential negative connotation in Chinese culture. It ended up being a very culturally educational process.”
Red Knuckles provided the animation production for both music videos alongside their creative direction. HIGHLIGHT sees K-ONE and RAINBOW tangled in a love story, with the endless thoughts running through their minds mirrored by a sprawling architectural landscape inspired by Escher’s ‘Relativity’ staircases. Eventually breaking out from the mind-bending, jewel-coloured world, the group finally unites, showcasing their unique superpowers through striking animation.
Rick & Mario add: “There was loads of room for interpretation on this project, and we scoured the internet for relevant references that we believed would suit the intended mood. These main references were very dark and moody, usually with one or two very strong coloured light sources being broken up to create interesting shadows. There was a lot of cyberpunk too that makes great use of saturated neon lighting, all engulfed in generous amounts of fog.”