For In Ashes, Deep Sky was honored to collaborate directly with The Smashing Pumpkins to create a five-part animated series that accompanied songs from the band's new album, CYR. Translating frontman Billy Corgan's distinctive and multifaceted vision was a fun experience for our passionate artists, who blended eye-catching hand-drawn animation with a goth-futuristic style.
Working with Billy was a dream come true for our creative team. He detailed a clear vision of the characters and how the story should progress, which allowed us to build upon his ideas to create a fully-developed world for the series. This laid a solid groundwork for the layered narrative that Corgan had created.
To convey the intensity of emotion that seethes through these five interlinked tracks, our team utilized a vivid color palette. Its unique and vibrant aesthetic drew inspiration from such diverse influences as Bladerunner, Dune, H.R. Giger, and cyberpunk futurism. As the narrative pivots from internal conflict to external survival, the animation and color convey the characters' struggles and shifting emotions.
Ultimately, In Ashes turns the goth-rock sound of The Smashing Pumpkins into an operatic phantasmagoria of evolving identities and cosmic yearning—with some really cool chase scenes to boot.
Episode 1 ("The Colour Of Love") is our first look into this world The Smashing Pumpkin have created, establishing a bridge between objective and subjective. It’s like an impressionistic painting. The creative choices are intentional, but their meanings are more personal. There’s a roughness, a toothiness, to the environment’s style. It’s retro meets futuristic, but the feeling is now. There’s a definite mood that lives somewhere between the world we know and a lucid dreamscape.
"Confessions Of A Dopamine Addict" is stylistically a deeper dive into this world created by The Smashing Pumpkins, into group dynamics, and into how each person is defined and expressed through a struggling sense-of-self. Here we used color to anchor the visual explorations of each character. We are rooted in an existence with crumbling rules, so it’s important we have something to hold onto, a baseline to track through the chaos, without limiting the journey. There is so much here to take in: a fun madness.
"Anno Satana" is another jump into this rich and creative landscape, created by The Smashing Pumpkins. As we witness a concert-like ritual, lighting and color take on a more physical presence. From hinting at emotion to providing stability, we now use color and light to assert dominance. It’s no longer just a tie to reality or a subtle hint. It’s evolving. Each change of color and lighting takes on a manifestation that frames each shot: from bars to beacon.
"Wyttch" builds on the language of color and motion from previous episodes. Transitioning from dance to conflict, control to chaos, we explore the blurred lines between ritual and revolution. In this transformation, we both figuratively and literally show the loss of humanity as we hint at the occultists’ true identities.
Episode 5 ("Purple Blood"), the final video from the In Ashes series brings together all the themes from the previous episodes for a memorable conclusion. Deep Sky focused on heightening character development by building a strong atmosphere, using color, shape, and symbolism. Every scene needed to tie into previous events, while also hinting at things to come. Sometimes the answers are harder than the questions.
View a behind the scenes look at the making of The Smashing Pumpkins' 'In Ashes' with the production team at Deep Sky.
Client: The Smashing Pumpkins
Director: Mike Anderson
Producer: Jared Hobbs
Creative Director: Barret Thomson
Art Director: Sandra Lanz
Project Manager: Jack Ellis
Storyboards: Ebru Cetiner
Animator: Matthew Seely
Animator: Gaby Breiter
Animator: Lyla Hammar
Animator: Aggelos Papantoniou
Animator: Mei Mei Leonard
Animator: Jon Buffman
Animator: Chi Nguyen
Animator: Alem Pilav
Production Coordinator: Pro Bagchi
Creative Strategist: Seth Chaffee
Backgrounds: Barret Thomson
Lead compositor: Esli Becerra
2nd Compositor: Zack Dixon