Pearl Jam has unveiled a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the abstract music video for their single “Retrograde.”
Released on May 14, the music video brings the issue of climate change to the forefront, featuring activist Greta Thunberg as a fortune teller revealing the earth’s dismal future through her crystal ball. Furthermore, the stills themselves are edited to look like they were painted, giving the song and video an especially artistic feel.
In the two-minute clip, Emmy-winning director Josh Wakely describes what it was like filming and animated the video during the coronavirus pandemic. “We had extraordinary animators in Vancouver, here in Los Angeles, in London, around the world, working digitally by Zoom to make this video about the most urgent issue of our time: climate change,” he says in the video.
Original storyboard illustrations are juxtaposed next to the video stills and their final “painted” versions, showing how Wakely’s vision came to life. In order to create some of the animation, Wakely and the illustrators also used green screen and compositing technology.
Wakely’s video also reveals that Greta Thunberg was not actually in the visual, as another model is shown in the live shot. Thunberg’s likeness was instead replicated in post-production, using existing images of the 17-year-old climate change activist.
In a previous interview with Variety, Wakely said that Thunberg was the only person he could see in the fortune teller role, so he was honored to receive her permission.
“She never had to act a frame, but she provided that emotion I was looking for,” Wakely told Variety. “It was a huge thrill to see an email in my inbox from her saying that she loved it.”
Overall, Wakely hopes that the “Retrograde” video can act as a call-to-action for people to get serious about climate change.
“The vision that I present — of a world ruined by climate change — is my way of sounding the alarm about the consequences of inaction,” Wakely said in a statement. “I sincerely hope this video serves as a reminder that it’s gonna take much more than ordinary love to lift this up.”
Watch the making of “Retrograde” below.