This has been the week of announcements surrounding Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda. Not only will he be co-starring in Disney’s Mary Poppins sequel/continuation/re-imagining alongside Emily Blunt, but his first Broadway hit In The Heights will be coming to the silver screen courtesy of the Weinstein Company. Sadly, this means he’ll be leaving his Pulitzer Prize and assuredly Tony award winning musical when his contract expires in July in order to pursue said projects as well as a other creative ventures. Miranda isn’t going anywhere if our collective fandoms are concerned, so I wanted to focus on one of many avenues in which Hamilton has inspired people creatively: animatics.
If, like me, you watched a lot of behind the scenes or making of featurettes for animated movies, then you’re probably aware of what an animatic is. For those who don’t know, animatics are basically animated storyboards that can be utilized for anything from pre-visualization to timing out musical sequences. Thanks to the internet, a lot of people experimenting with animation, whether for school projects or as part of their career, put their work on YouTube, which means I end up spending a lot of time going down the animatic rabbit hole.
Unsurprisingly, Hamilton has inspired quite a few artists to storyboard and animate snippets and/or full songs from the musical. The contemporary vibe of Hamilton’s hip-hop origins lends itself to animation, but what makes these animatics stand out are the variety of visual translations. It isn’t hard to find video of Hamilton performances, so the aesthetics of the costumes and the performers’ faces are used at the discretion of the artist, but the animation adds a distinctive layer of scope and scale that the musical can’t achieve. Live performers and a stage present physical limitations on what the actors can do and how the story can be told, but with animatics artists can blend the music with dynamic shots that match its energy or reinterpret how aspects of the song can be visualized.
I’m certain that there will come a point where all of Hamilton’s 46 songs will have some animated flair attached to them, but for now here are the pieces that caught my eye during my latest rabbit hole session. Some are rougher than others in terms of animation, but I think they find the essence of the song while remaining visually captivating.
“Satisfied” Animatic by Jade Butler
It starts around the middle of the song, but I dig the Disney-esque style. I especially love the vision Angelica has in her champagne of the scenario in which she and Hamilton are together and Eliza steps aside.
“Non-Stop” Animatic by lifewhatisthat
One of many vignettes in the song, I think the lighting effect with the purple coloring is great. I’m also a sucker for great expressions and this video has some great ones for both Hamilton and Burr.
“Burn” Animatic by Xena Achilleos
It’s a gut punch of a song that breaks my heart every time thanks to Phillipa Soo’s amazing voice. The video really captures Eliza’s emotional status with the large, gloomy, and empty room emphasizing her betrayal and heartache.
“Farmer Refuted” Animatic by Von Muren
This has some great crowd art and camera angles. I love the opening shot melding into the crowd. Where this video really shines is in Hamilton’s interaction with the crowd and Samuel Seabury, circling the man like a predator as they debate.
“Congratulations” Animatic by coma
This is actually a cut song from the musical, though a few pieces were cannibalized for “The Reynold’s Pamphlet.” It’s a shame because Angelica really lays into Hamilton about how he’s monumentally screwed up and Renée Elise Goldsberry kills it. The animation is fantastic with the character expressions selling the moment of confrontation and the conflicting emotions of Angelica and Hamilton.
“Your Obedient Servant” Animatic by Soleildiddle
This artist has a whole bunch of Hamilton animatics, which I recommend watching, but this one is my favorite because it turns the letters of Hamilton and Burr building up to their duel as a dance with each man taking the lead when it’s his turn to respond.
“Aaron Burr, Sir” Animatic by Erin Shin
The style of this piece reminds me of Saturday morning cartoons, in a good way. It’s fitting since this is the song right after the opening number, so Hamilton is still full of optimism and delusions of grandeur when he encounter Burr for the first time. I love the contrasting expressions as well; Burr is calm and amused while Hamilton is frenetic and intense.
“The World Was Wide Enough” Animatic by NMS Video
I love, love, LOVE this animatic because it perfectly encapsulates how storytelling changes based on the medium. Hamilton is seeing his life flash before his eyes and, via the stirring and frantic singing of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the animation pulls us through each moment and interaction significant to him. My favorite transition is young Hamilton laying in his mother’s lap only for his young hand to grip the soil as he rises up into his days as a soldier. It works so seamlessly.
These are only a small sample of what’s out there and hopefully there will be more to share in the future. Until that time, I want to thank Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton for being so inspirational that people are bringing more amazing art into the world everyday.