Madvillain’s video “All Caps” was directed and animated by James Reitano (TFU Studios) and released early 2004. In those pre-Youtube days we resorted to posting the video as a .mov file on Stones Throw’s website and included it on an “Enhanced CD” edition of the album.
I knew just a little about James when I visited him at his home studio where he was working on the video. I didn’t realize he was creating the animation by hand until he handed me a stack of pages, hundreds of drawings. Below is a quick Q+A we did with James after the clip came out. – Jeff Jank
Stones Throw: How did the project of this video begin?
James Reitano: I spoke with PB Wolf and suggested an animated video for Madlib. I had always wished I could of done one for the Quasimoto LP. I think he’s one of the most creative producers to come around since Prince Paul so I was hoping there was chance to do something for one of his upcoming projects. For some reason, I had those old comic book-related tv cartoons from the 60’s in mind, the ones by Grant-Ray-Lawrence studios. They just moved the characters across the backgrounds, and had limited movement. (Ghostface used sound bites from those cartoons on his Cuban Linx and Supreme Clientele LP’s.)
Any involvement with the artists on this theme?
MF DOOM’s artwork referenced old 60’s comic book stuff, so Wolf had suggested Madvillain’s “Money Folder”, and later gave me “All Caps” to use for the video. I showed Wolf and Otis some old tapes of those cartoons and then I called DOOM. He knew exactly what I wanted to do, and was really into it. We agreed to re-invent his character, rather than pirate any already existing characters. We talked about trench coats, fedora hats and CIA looking guys. We had a great conversation. Doom is a huge Jack Kirby fan, so I tried my best to reference that era in comics which happens to be my favorite stuff too.
From there, the production of the song is really what influenced the video. The music was so cinematic that I knew right off the bat, “this part needs a cliff-chase, this part needs a revelation of sorts,” and really just wrote it around those ideas. The concept for the story was simple in that of a DJ and an MC. Doom being the monster, the frontman, and Madlib working behind the scenes (in a metal case to be more precise).
How was the animation done?
It was put together using old fashioned pen and paper, then scanned in, and composited it all in different programs. About 900-1000 different drawings went into this one.
There’s some split-second details in here that couldn’t be found without the help of a slow-motion DVD, like the letters page and everything in the ads. Any hidden messages to look for?
That’s the advantage to animation, considering you’re dealing with everything a frame at a time. There’s a Bozo Meko reference in there, Afrika Bambaataa and Afrika Islam’s first release on vinyl. There’s also a Haliburton reference, and Peanut Butter Wolf’s last name is snuck in there as well. Also, one of the thugs is the rookie–he ends up in a body cast toward the end.