Hak Baker: Doolally music video

The promo for Hak Baker and AWAL Records, directed by Hugh Mulhern, uses a mix of live-action, animation and AI to capture a mad night out

There’s always talk about music videos not being quite what they used to be, but east London singer and rapper Hak Baker’s collaboration with Riff Raff director Hugh Mulhern is a surreal and brilliant take on the art form.

Mulhern has built up an eclectic portfolio of work for commercial clients John Lewis, Fifa and Simone Rocha, and interesting music artists including Kean Kavanagh and Porter Robinson. This promo is the second video Mulhern has directed for Baker, the first being Telephones 4 Eyes – a similar visual assault on the senses.

Though Doolally is a party anthem, within the context of Baker’s album it’s also about “escaping, disassociating and connection through disconnection”. To visualise this, the video is a “no-holds-barred, blow by blow of a very messy night out”, according to Mulhern. “I wanted to use this as an excuse to see how far we could push all the techniques and visual language I established for Hak with our previous video for Telephones 4 Eyes.”

The result is a mix of 3D animation, AI generative animation, props and puppets at a warehouse party. “I wanted to make something that felt like you were falling through different layers of reality, swept up in the momentum of a night out that lasts 36 hours,” Mulhern said. The chaotic mix of techniques and mediums demonstrates the beauty of using AI and generative tech to enhance creativity rather than replace it.

The action kicks off in a tower block flat and quickly unfolds into chaos with the appearance of Baker’s nemesis, a lumpy, potato-like, grass-covered gremlin. Viewers are then taken through a computer game world as Baker and his friends speed through London to reach their destination. All the while trippy animation is interspersed throughout.

While not all the video was storyboarded, there were key moments Mulhern was keen to capture, such as the balloon head at the door, and the axe and the car sequence, which required more planning.

Elsewhere the team threw an actual party to capture that authentic night out feel, though while there were elements of pure, uninhibited freedom, a fair amount needed controlling to ensure a smooth shoot. For VFX, the team worked with Daniel Morris and Dafydd Upsdell from Gabha Studios, and Dom Harwood on the animation.

Lee Tan, co-founder and CCO at Motel and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the project was picked as a winner:

Category: Music Video
Label: AWAL Records
Creative Director: Nadine Persaud
Director: Hugh Mulhern
Producer: Alexander Handschuh
Executive Producer: Laura Clayton
DOP: Eoin McLoughlin
Editors: Joseph Taylor @ The Assembly Rooms, Ed Fay
AI Animator: Infinite Vibes
Production Designer: Rory Mullen
3D Animators: @CMKRealm @andrzej9k
Design Assistants: Peter Eason Daniels, Scarlet Topley
Stylist: Naomi Barling
Grade: Andrew Francis
Post: Daniel Morris, Dafydd Upsdell, Gabha Studios