Sara Bareilles: “Gravity”

ROLE: 2D Lead / Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Motion Theory
CLIENT: Epic Records
DIRECTOR: Mathew Cullen

The music video for “Gravity” was my most rewarding experience working with director Mathew Cullen at Motion Theory. He shot a one-take sequence of artist Sara Bareilles, who’s performance, while walking down a city street, depicts a symbolic journey that takes her to the edge of the universe.

All shot in-camera, street lights resembled stars and comets, an outdoor book stand appeared as Saturn, a ball of flowers looked like Jupiter, and a spray of water from a hydrant swirled like a spiral galaxy. A very unique and artful bit of work, to say the least.

My role was two-fold.

As Lead, I developed an efficient workflow that could successfully accommodate a one-take three and half minute video, then broke those elements out for a team of Flame and After Effects Artists to tackle under my supervision.

As Flame Artist, I designed the color grade to capture the feel of approaching the edge of the universe. I also augmented existing in-camera imagery with subtle 2D tricks that further emphasized elements without seeming artificial, such as creating starfields that mimicked the architecture of buildings, and adding nebula and galaxy effects to existing steam, lights, and water sprays.

Usher: “Love in this Club”

ROLE: Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Hydraulx Films
DIRECTOR: The Brothers Stause

Slick and sexy, Usher’s “Love in this Club” plays more like a surreal short film than the typical music video. Sure, it’s got the typical ingredients you’d expect to accompany an R&B hip-hop infused hit synth-single – live performance, choreographed dancing, sexy ladies, lots of mugging for the camera. But there’s also a wrap-around mystery, cloaked in the warm-hued, lens flared environment of an almost ghostly Vegas nightclub.

The premise is simple – Usher enters an empty nightclub, one which looks as if deserted only moments before he enters. Once inside, he can’t leave. Every door returns him to where he started. And that’s when he sees the mystery woman. The music starts, the club fills up, and it’s business as usual – until she vanishes.

Much of the atmosphere was achieved in camera, but many elements still needed to be added or augmented to achieve the final product. Of these, I was tasked primarily with beauty work for Usher and his lady, making them look as good as possible. Also, I contributed some stylized lighting and lens flare effects, to intensify the surreal sensuality of the club interior.

Pop Evil: “Somebody Like You”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Kakaty Entertainment
DIRECTOR: Jason Honeycut

Pop Evil’s music video for the single “Somebody Like You” required a number of 2D tasks, the primary one being the creation of a visceral car crash, which occurs midway through the story.

The event occurs as a van impacts a car from its side. There’s a p.o.v. shot of the van approaching the car immediately before impact, as well as an interior tumble/roll shot caused by the collision.

The crash itself was accomplished with the combination of multiple plates for the two vehicles. Impact effects were created with 2D animation techniques, as well as matte painted damage and debris.

The p.o.v. and interior shots were all stationary greenscreen plates, with impact and roll camera motion supplied in comp. Background plates for traveling landscape were added, as well as interactive lighting and reflections.

Also, for additional shots, some clean-up was involved to depict a character’s transformation into a ghost, as well as misc beauty work for the band and their instruments.

Atreyu: “Her Portrait in Black”

ROLE: Lead Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
CLIENT: Lakeshore Entertainment
DIRECTOR: Rob Schroeder

As the featured single from the sequel “Underworld: Evolution,” metalcore artist Atreyu’s “Her Portrait in Black” needed a cutting-edge cross promotional music video that seamlessly featured both band and film.

This necessitated a number of the film’s key sequences to be re-purposed and/or cut into the band’s performance. As such, the bulk of my tasks focused on grading and combining the film’s imagery with Atreyu’s performance.

For example, Director Rob Shroeder wanted the winged-vampire Marcus to appear in the same shot as vocalist Alex Varkatzas on a number of shots. So Marcus had to be extracted from the film’s footage, and re-composited with newly graded band footage.

I also did a few screen comps, inserting band footage into the film’s monitor shots, as well as some general clean-up and obligatory beauty work.