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Ed Sheeran: Punchline - Fan Created Music Video (New Zealand)

In late 2023, I collaborated with Evan Heasman (Director/Ilustrator) on an official fan created music video for Ed Sheeran and the song Punchline from the 2023 album Autumn Variations. I took on the roles of animator, editor and producer.

Check out the video below, as well as a behind the scenes case study of how the project came to be!


Song: Punchline
Ed Sheeran
Director / Illustrator:
Evan Heasman
Producer / Animator / Editor: Chris Callus
Client Management: Warner Music NZ
Company: Ed Sheeran Limited

    Case Study: Animating an Ed Sheeran Music Video from New Zealand  

How it all started

In mid-September 2023, Evan Heasman (an artist and illustrator from Waipu, New Zealand) was tagged by a friend in an instagram video posted by Ed Sheeran. Ed was seeking 14 fans from 14 countries to create official music videos for his new album ‘Autumn Variations’, with over 4,000 entries from 75 countries.

Evan immediately reached out to Chris Callus, an animator and friend from Wellington, and together they pondered the idea of entering.

Long story short, Evan was selected as the New Zealand winner and so began the exciting and surreal process of creating an animated music video for Ed Sheeran and the song Punchline.

Evan: “I got tagged in a post on Instagram by a friend of mine and I thought, it sounds pretty cool, but I wouldn't be able to do it alone as it's a video and I only do illustration. And so I thought, oh, I'll tag [Chris] and yeah, thankfully [Chris] replied and sort of urged me to go with it.”

Chris: “Yeah it was surreal - you never think that you will get through when you see an online callout, but I love Evan’s illustration work and really did think it had a shot. The worst that can happen is that nothing happens.”

The concept

Evan and Chris interpreted the song Punchline as someone coming to terms with a breakup or a loss of connection - whether that is a friendship or partner or something else entirely. Many people go for a walk to process their thoughts and at the simplest level the video depicts that experience.

Throughout the course of the video, the main character, an anthropomorphic fox, is followed by an ever transforming creature that becomes more and more foreboding and intrusive as time progresses.

Evan and Chris saw the creature as representing ideas such as having spirally emotions, being unable to walk away and experiencing all consuming thoughts - things that linger and follow us as we try to process difficult circumstances like a relationship breakdown.

In the end, by accepting and becoming one with the creature, the fox is able to process their troubling thoughts and move on in peace.

Evan: “When pressure is put upon you to come up with the concept, it scares me and it can often make things take longer, but I’d just been on a walk myself and I came up with this idea”
Chris: “Being under a bit of time pressure meant trying not to let overthinking happen, because it’s so easy to start doubting what you're doing, but we just went - this idea is good, let’s go for it.

The process

To create the video, Evan combined a range of hand drawing, inking and painting techniques to craft hundreds of illustration pieces. These elements were meticulously combined digitally to create a variety of creatures and scenes, from the somber interiors of a Fox’s woodland home, to enchanting forests and glowing underwater landscapes.

The illustrations were then passed over to Chris who brought them to life through character animation, camera movement and digital effects.

Evan: “I enjoy being able to create all these pieces and put them together digitally. And then because I've got so much more freedom to change color, change shape, change size, it's just become how I create all my work now and that just lends itself so well to the animation”

Chris: Working with [Evan’s] artwork always pushes me to do more - there’s always so many layers and details and opportunities to add movement and be creative”

The experience

Evan and Chris had previously worked together on a few small projects, but as Evan describes “we'd always had discussions on wanting to do something more, something bigger”.

Both Evan and Chris really enjoyed playing with the darker tones of ‘Punchline’ to create a world that they hope is both visually interesting and emotionally engaging.

Evan: “For me, this is like a dream come true project for so many reasons. It's getting to work with [Chris] again because we've worked together before and I just love how he knows what to do to bring my work to life. He’s very respectful of my work and [animation] just enhances it so much more. So there’s that, as well as it being for an Ed Sheeran video, it's crazy to think about.”

Chris: “Having Evan come up with the visuals and the style and everything and then for me to get to come in and play with it in terms of animation, that’s one of my favorite ways to work.”

The result

The music video is available to view on Ed Sheeran’s Youtube channel from 11am on Tuesday the 28th of November 2023, with over 100,000 views and 5,000 likes in the first week.

Evan: “The fact that the video is for Ed Sheeran made it so surreal. How can you get to work with such a big name but also get to do what you love the most? And with hardly any rules. It was amazing. Whatever happens I think it's already gone well. We've made it and we're so happy with it. What more could we want?”

See more:  NZ Herald   |   MoreFM   |   Billboard