Radical by Design

DAZZLE SHIP™ is a design-driven creative studio producing films, experiences and multi-platform campaigns.

We work in partnership with clients across TV, gaming, esports, sports, technology, music and charitable causes.


100 years ago ‘Dazzle Ships’ used a form of camouflage that challenged the enemies sense of perception to avoid conflict.

Science tells us that shifts in perception disrupt our brains habitual patterns and unleash new perspectives.

We help people introduce new concepts into the world using a mixture of storytelling, animation, design and radical creativity.

The Importance of Passion Projects

2016 was a busy year at Dazzle Ship. We had some exciting projects come in and we worked with clients that were a true joy to collaborate with. With this, the midnight oil was certainly burned, and the results were portfolio pieces that i feel are some of our best work to date.

At the end of the year I started to reflect, and looking back over the past few years I realised that pretty much all of my working energy had been put into using creativity to communicate messages and help solve problems for clients. However, I felt as if this line of creativity was starting to resort to safe patterns.

A close friend of mine described this as ‘the need to replenish the well’. I had spent a lot of time taking from the ‘well’ in order to deliver on client projects, but I needed to replenish its creative resource with new inspiration in order to keep delivering good work.

So towards the end of the year I began to spend my spare time getting more hands on with software and experimenting. Luckily I knew Christmas was around the corner so I was confident that if I had an idea I could use the holiday time productively to bring it to life.

At around the same time an old music producer friend of mine (from my VJing days) sent me some tracks he had been working on. Addison Groove’s music has always been an inspiration to me – he has an ability to innovate and evolve just at the point where he could be considered pigeonholed. He stays under the radar enough to avoid ‘selling out’, but constantly releases tracks that are popular enough to keep him selling records and touring the world playing gigs for years to come.

music video animation

I set myself the task of creating a music video for him; there was no budget involved and he wasn’t really too fussed about the concept. There was total creative freedom and a vague deadline of ‘mid January’.

Having studied as an animation director at University back in 2005, i had always felt constrained by the process we were taught. We were told we would fail unless we had 3 key things:

  • A Concept.
  • A Story.
  • A Storyboard.
music video animation

I knew I wanted to create something unique, so I figured my process would be driven by ‘R+D’… or, essentially… “playing around until I think something looks cool”. In some ways this is a much more time consuming and painful process than the one I had been taught, but sometimes I like to learn the hard way. There were no storyboards, and the concept was constantly evolving and changing. The aim was to complement the music with a series of unique visualisations placed into a structure that created its own narrative.

From a technical perspective, the dance movements were taken from Motion Capture data – the same technology used to create realistic animation in games and films. The keyframes of this animation were then manipulated to experiment with different gravitational and dynamic forces that caused particular body parts to react in a mesmorizingly weightless way.

What did i learn? Well i learnt that working without a concept isn’t the easiest way to approach this kind project, however it can be more fun. I learnt new techniques in Cinema 4D and Octane render, both of which i had wanted more time to experiment with for a while. Overall i learnt that i shouldn’t leave it for another decade before attempting to create something for myself again.

The video premiered on Vice and the first review uses descriptions like ‘slightly unusual’, ‘mindf*ck’ and ‘weirdly sexy’. It’s Nice That think that it’s ‘a realm overflowing with pattern and colour’. All of those descriptions make the process seem worth it for me.

Hope you like the video and look forward to hearing your thoughts. Feel free to share it too 🙂

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Lex Johnson

Director, designer of Dazzle Ship. A documentor of culture using animation, tech and stories since 2001. Passionate about perspectives.
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