Glass Onion

Promotional film • For The Beatles • Directed by Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney
Timeline This film has been released in 2018
Release date:
Nov 02, 2018

Master release

Related song

Glass Onion

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)

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From The Beatles ‘Glass Onion’ by Alasdair + Jock | Videos | Promonews:

Trunk directors Alasdair + Jock have created a video for The Beatles’ Glass Onion, a fabulous mixed media work that celebrates the Fab Four at the time of the creation of The White Album, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.

This vibrant piece utilizes existing footage of the band, circa 1968, in a way that reflects the decision-making process that led to the artwork of the album itself, through the eyes of artist Richard Hamilton (who created the famous all-white cover of The Beatles, the album’s official title) and Paul McCartney. As the track plays, images are added and removed, elements are coloured and manipulated, film footage is run and spliced, and drawn elements are brought to life. 

Alasdair and Jock Mooney, together with producers Richard Barnett and Layla Atkinson, were given access to both Apple Corps Ltd.’s archive and Paul McCartney’s personal archive. They have included images, and footage from Beatles’ promos made at the time, to tell the stories behind the creation and distribution of the album, as well as images that reflect John Lennon’s self-referencing lyrics to Glass Onion.

And the team have used a plethora of techniques – stop motion, live action, hand drawn 2D on paper, 3D modelling, scratch film, rostrum cut out replacements, pixilation, hand painted artworking, plus motion control – to bring the piece alive. […]

From The Beatles | Glass Onion – Trunk | Animation Production Company:

Universal and Apple Corps Ltd asked our directors Alasdair+Jock to create a music video for The Beatles, ‘Glass Onion’, the third track on the re-release of the White Album.

The album was released with a fold out A2 poster, also created by Hamilton, alongside Paul McCartney, and it was this that the team was asked to take inspiration from. Working with a static artwork as a starting point became a wonderful challenge. The White Album poster contains a montage of images including photographs, strips of film, drawings, and hand coloured elements, all of which were provided by the band to Hamilton and McCartney, and which reflect the eclectic nature of the album’s tracks.

The team at Trunk, headed by Producer Richard Barnett and Layla Atkinson, alongside Directors Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney, decided to create a piece which showed the artworks curatorial decision making process, as though through the eyes of Hamilton and McCartney. As the track plays, images are added and removed, elements are coloured and manipulated, film footage is run and spliced, and drawn elements are brought to life. With access to both Apple Corps Ltd.’s archive and Paul McCartney’s personal archive, Alasdair + Jock were able to include images that tell the stories behind the creation and distribution of the album as well as images that reflect the lyrics.

As with all their projects, Alasdair + Jock went into overdrive on the research and development, finding the backstories of individual featured images, where they were from, and what was going on at the time. To note any specific ideas would be to give away the joy of the hunt, but needless to say each sequence holds a back story, and a little bit of Beatles history, so look out!

the team used a plethora of techniques to bring the piece alive, including stop motion, live action, hand drawn 2D on paper, 3D modelling, scratch film, rostrum cut out replacements, pixilation and hand painted artworking. With Jock Mooney’s artistic eye heading up the artworking, and Layla Atkinson heading up the printing, the pre-production on the project was intense. In order to achieve the final look, thousands of photographs from archive sources were edited, printed out, numbered, and either painted on, scratched, or generally man handled, before being shot under a motion control camera. As the video contained so many different techniques there was never a dull moment, from building sets that represented Richard Hamilton’s studio to carefully cutting out thousands of photos including some particularly scissor tricky images of Ringo Starr, who at the time sported a fabulously shaggy hairstyle. On most projects you have perhaps two or three challenging shots, but with there being so many hand crafted techniques, and by pushing the motion control rig to the limit, nothing was easy. The shooting of this project was a battle between creative desire and technical limitations. However, with such an amazing camera team, headed by DOP Pete Ellmore, although there were some late nights, the team captured everything they needed and more. Stitching all the shot footage together was always going to be a reasonable battle, but with such beautiful source imagery, and with expert planning and the masterful hand of Alasdair Brotherston in the compositing seat, it all came together seamlessly.

Directors Alasdair and Jock noted, “Working on such an important album was an honour, and it was great to work with Apple’s archivist Aaron Bremner, who was able to supply high quality footage for some of the most abstract references! It was key for us to get the right images to tell the story of not only the poster, but the album and all those involved with it. Hopefully we’ve captured a part of the magic, the frenzy and turbulent process of making such an amazing album”.

Universal and Apple Corps supported Alasdair + Jock’s ideas, trusted their opinions, and were always interested to understand the process and their creative decision making. The process is reflected in the final film, a visual love letter to all the Beatles fans whose hearts have been in our minds throughout the journey. We really hope they like it!

At the outset of the project we heard an interview with Paul McCartney,” he says, “in which he explained how important it was that the collage he made with Richard Hamilton was created real scale – no elements were scaled up or shrunk down during the creative process and this gave rise to particular juxtapositions and techniques that informed the finished piece.

We were adamant that we would approach this project in the same way, in the full knowledge that it would cause us some problems on the shoot. (As such) I am most proud that everything you see in the video was created at the scale originally intended and we embraced the challenges that those constraints threw up and that overcoming those really informed the look and feel of the finished piece.

There were some things that it just wasn’t practical to capture on the main shoot – the 2D animation of John & Yoko escaping the U.S censors pencil for example,” Alasdair continues. “It would have been crazy to attempt that live in camera. But even with that we animated at the same scale as the original drawing and was worked in pencil on paper. The vast majority of what you see was captured in camera, which is largely thanks to the skill of the art department at Trunk and the crew at Clapham Road Studios.

Art director Alasdair Brotherston – From The White Album Project | A Comprehensive Look At The Beatles Self Titled Double Album Masterpiece
From The Beatles | Glass Onion – Trunk | Animation Production Company
From The Beatles | Glass Onion – Trunk | Animation Production Company
From The Beatles | Glass Onion – Trunk | Animation Production Company
From The Beatles | Glass Onion – Trunk | Animation Production Company


  • DIRECTOR: Alasdair Brotherston
  • DIRECTOR: Jock Mooney
  • PRODUCER: Richard Barnett
  • PRODUCTION COMPANY: Trunk Animation
  • FOCUS PULLER: Undefined
  • LABEL: Universal
  • LABEL: Apple Corps
    • Art Department: Jock Mooney, Layla Atkinson, Mehmet Ulusahin, Alec Kronacker, Dr Adrian Leak, Damian Gascoigne, Lucy Blackhurst
    • Stop Motion Animation: Andy Biddle, Tobias Fouracre
    • 2D Animation: Chris Cray, Alex Potts
    • CGI: Rok Predin
    • Motion Control Operator: Max Halstead, Matthew Day
    • Grade: Jonny Thorpe @ Glassworks
    • Gaffer: Adam Bell
    • Cast: Ashleigh May Thompson
    • Studio Manager: Elizabeth Day, Jen Newman
    • Apple Corps Archivist: Aaron Bremner, Chris Purkiss
    • Commissioner for Universal: Stefan Demetriou, Orla Lee-Fisher
    • Commissioner for Apple Corps: Jonathan Clyde, Jeff Jones

Last updated on October 3, 2021


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