Pearl Jam have shared a new video that offers a breakdown of how their animated video for “Retrograde” came together in the middle of a global pandemic.
In the “Retrograde” video, released earlier this month, a man visits a fortune teller where, in the crystal ball, he sees a series of climate disasters across the world. Pearl Jam appear inside animated tarot cards and it’s revealed that the fortune teller is climate activist Greta Thunberg.
In the new behind-the-scenes clip, director Josh Wakely says production had just begun when the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone involved to self-isolate. Despite the circumstances, a team of animators around the world managed to craft the clip using an array of techniques, and the video goes on to show how they transformed live-action video footage and real-life photos into a disconcertingly gorgeous apocalyptic landscape.
In an e-mail to Rolling Stone, Wakely said making the video in quarantine wasn’t exactly an easy process: “The workflows were very weird, the video conference calls innumerable, and the sheer number of people involved — over 150 — was huge.” But he added, “Even though most of us have never met, I think we all feel inspired by what we accomplished together. “
He continued: “My sincere hope is that in the future, people everywhere can think of themselves as part of a unified team in pursuit of an urgent, common goal. This new kind of distributed teamwork seems like the right way to overcome not just complex video production challenges, but also the many shared environmental challenges we face as inhabitants of planet Earth at this moment in history. We can use technology, creativity and everything else in the toolbox to battle the existential crises of our time — from COVID-19 to the climate crisis to homelessness, inequality, hate and more. As the song says, ‘It’s gonna take much more than ordinary love to lift this up.’”
“Retrograde” appears on Pearl Jam’s most recent album, Gigaton, which was released in March. The band was supposed to embark on a spring tour in support of the LP, but COVID-19 forced the band to postpone the shows to a later date.