Colorful Cityscapes and Complex Characters with Adobe Character Animator and Konee Rok

Renowned music film director, documentarian and animator builds distinct cities for DJ Aktive’s music video “The City” ft. Common, Jazzy Jeff, Freeway, and Bri Steves.


by Molly Thompson

posted on 03-17-2020

At Adobe, we love to see our tools help a creator bring their wildest ideas to life. Today, we celebrate Konee Rok, an award-winning filmmaker known for his work with many popular artists in hip-hop, rap, and breakdancing culture. Launching today is his music video created for legendary DJ Aktive, known for his work with the likes of Janet Jackson, Sean Diddy Combs, and Nas, to name a few. The video transforms and brings to life DJ Aktive’s track “The City” ft. Common, Jazzy Jeff, Freeway, and Bri Steves from his new album “The Tour.”

The video is a vibrant homage to the cities that each musician holds dear to their hearts, specifically Chicago and Philadelphia, including the people, places, and iconic images for which each city is known. For each verse, Konee created a montage of images featuring each artist, including Common, Jazzy Jeff, Freeway, and Bri Steves. If you watch closely, you’ll notice several other familiar faces sprinkled throughout the video from artists that DJ Aktive has worked with or been inspired by throughout his professional career. A Chicago native, Konee Rok completed this cinematic animated video by himself in only two months — using Adobe Character Animator, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro.

“I decided to try Character Animator with this project,” says Konee. “It turned out to be a deeper toolbox than I anticipated. I gained a lot of satisfaction navigating through new options to compliment the movements of my characters. It became an asset in servicing the quality and speed of my animation. I’m glad I invested the time to learn something new. Character Animator has become an important part of my workflow, and it will be interesting to see how much further I can push these tools to expand my ideas in the future.”

Konee originally wanted to make a live-action music video, but to incorporate all the artists and visual textures of the individual cities in one video was challenging due to cost and logistics. Konee turned to Character Animator to solve these obstacles and found a more impactful way to convey the story he wanted to tell in animation. Through technology powered by Adobe Sensei, like lip sync and face tracking, he was able to achieve a more true-to-life quality of motion, allowing him to make more creative stylistic choices that resulted in a deeper viewing experience. He also used the Character Animator Walk Behavior in a unique way for arm movements, instead of legs and walking, as a character swings on monkey bars.

Konee’s use of animation in a cinematic way is what really makes this project one of a kind. “A lot of the things you see in the video are fun and unique ways to see the artist presented, especially in hip-hop,” he says. “A lot of the time animation is treated as a gimmick. With Character Animator there is fluidity in the way the artists perform the lyrics. There is attention given to detail and presentation and when you see them perform, they really perform.” The result is a stunning piece that gives the viewer a glimpse into how each city has helped to mold each artist’s journey.

“The City video is a great visual with amazing animation that brings the song we created to life. Thanks to the director Konee Rok and the team at Adobe for taking this video technology to the next level.” -DJ Aktive

We’re honored that Konee chose Character Animator for such a dynamic and inspired piece.

Topics: Creativity

Products: Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud, Character Animator