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Sci Fi Music Video

Hello All, just wanted to share a music video that I just completed. The idea came from imagining a future where machines administer a type of Turing test to humans as opposed to the other way around. It was an ambitious project with over 200 VFX shots. The video was made for French electronic artist Olivier Orand (who appears at the end of the video) for the track Thursday Night. I hope you enjoy!

  • Interesting promo, high concept and well executed!

    As we're all filmmakers here, why not give a breakdown of what bits you found easiest/trickiest/most rewarding/techniques you used/practical vs CGI shots/assets bought vs made/how you made design decisions/how the creative process with the artist/label worked/etc? People would be interested, I'm sure.

    As for me, well I have a question - as the track quite specifically uses a non-language vocal track (to great effect, I really like it), why did you decide to go with linguistic cues in the video instead of figurative/international ones? Do you have video cuts for different languages?

    1 year ago
  • Really liked it. I have the same questions as Paddy.

    1 year ago
  • Hello Paddy, great questions. Let me break it into two sections, the first where I discuss some of the challenges of working this way, and the second regarding the language.

    At the beginning of the process, I discussed the concept for the video at length with my production designer. The needs were a room, at least 3 meters square, with textured walls and additional "sci-fi" elements, and a floor with similar texturing. The estimate tally just for materials blew our budget out of the water, and the decision was made to go with green screen and CGI elements in post. I will be the first one to admit that there is simply no substitute for practical sets, and if that is an option it's always better to do so. However in this case, visually the environment would have simply not looked right due to the financial constraints.

    The main challenge when shooting green screen for virtual sets is to make sure to light based on what the final virtual set will look like, which meant the CGI basic assets had to be created ahead of the shoot, and light up the way I wanted them. Only then could I show my cinematographer the preliminary renders, so that we could plan out exactly how to light the green screen set.

    Beyond that, when doing CGI, preparation is key so all of the angles that we needed were meticulously pre-vizzed down to the camera lenses and height off the floor.

    When I pitched Olivier the concept originally, I didn't have any of the render assets, so it was mostly done as a treatment of the story, paired with some mood-board photos that I found on google and that would give the basic idea of what the vibe of the final video might be like. Olivier was kept up to speed on all of the visual elements and the casting through the process, and he was extremely willing to let me take the lead on the creative choices which was great.

    Once we had the raw green screen footage with the actress, Augie Duke, I gave Derek Drouin (who has worked on lots of VFX heavy movies like Looper, Captain America and First Man) full reign with the edit. We had a careful conversation on the story that I was trying to convey, and he took the lead on how to best use the raw elements to tell that story. Through the process I would feed him the rough CGI shots as they were being treated, which in turn allowed him to refine the edit in a more visual way.

    Once we locked the edit in January, the process began to replace all of the rough shots (about 260 in total) with the final renders. It was a pretty huge undertaking actually, particularly since the way Derek edited, some of the shots only lasted a few frames, but still required the full compositing process to take place.

    If you're interested, I made a short "behind the scenes" video of the process of creating this video. It's very simplified, but hopefully conveys a sense of what was involved:

    Regarding the second question -- I would have preferred to keep the imagery language-agnostic, but both Derek and I felt that we had to "nudge" the audience with visual and textual cues to better clarify the process of the conversation between the mechanical Interrogator and the girl. I like the idea of multiple languages, it is something that I would definitely consider doing if, say the video explodes in other markets such as Asia for instance. Olivier and myself feel that for now, English is internationally understood well enough that the meaning of the video should be fairly clear. But I agree, it would have been cool to try and keep it all simply visual and perhaps find the right iconography to convey the messages.

    1 year ago
  • Hi Kays,
    Augie Duke seems to have been lit the same way nearly all the way through the piece whatever lighting was going on in the room. Excluding the obvious, the heavy red filter from the computer POV, with the exception when her legs are breifly seen as lit by blue light at one point and the orange glow added around the burn sequence. This, in my mind, keeps Augie and her enviroment seperated, not integrated into the CGI enviroment. Probably the two points I really wanted to see lighting connect the real and the unreal were: flashes of red hitting her face when she is close to the machine red eye and earlier around 1.22 when the blue electric lights flashing throughout the room stop, there is no change to the lighting on Augie, when they stop and the lighting changes noticeably in the room. Perhaps the addition of subtle colour filters/washes/banding on to Augie at times would have made her combination with the enviroment real to me. Not my intention to annoy or insult. Kudos on your work.

    1 year ago
    • Hello Ray, thanks for the thoughts. We did have proper colored lights in the set, unfortunately the weren't powerful enough to cut through as much as we'd hoped for, but yes, in either case there were red lights on her for the close ups and blue and orange lights for the other scenes.

      1 year ago
  • Hi Kays,
    Many thanks for that and understood. I forgot previously to mention, thank you for taking the time to respond to Padddy and Mark's questions and for sharing your process in detail. It is important to state that people like yourself, disclosing openly and honestly, is what makes Shooting People a strong and vibrant filmmaking community.
    Many , many thanks
    Regards Ray

    1 year ago
  • Thanks for the detailed answer, I know many members here will be interested even if they don't post here! I personally find it fascinating to understand how people set about getting the results they do :)

    Full composite for a few frames must be frustrating - in terms of "value", did those frames earn their "cost" do you think? Would you make the same decisions again, or would you reduce your post overhead by constraining the edit so you could spend more (maybe even on sets!?).

    As for internationalisation, luckily that ought to be fairly cheap, replacing a few cards, if you ever choose to do it. It's just interesting again to me that that was the decision the musician made after going for very languageless lyrics!

    1 year ago
    • Did they earn the cost? I think so. I mean, in retrospect I would prefer to tackle a less post-heavy project in the immediate future; and many times through the process I felt as if I was just insane for doing it this way. In the end I feel that it worth my time. I've directed more straight-narrative short films, and my previous music video (if you're interested you can watch it here: ) was decisively less VFX-crazy. I think I enjoy doing both, and I love going from one type of project with a specific set of challenges to something completely different.

      12 months ago
  • I'm not qualified to discuss the technical aspect. Just like the overall tone and style. By all accounts, this is the way in which job applicants in the UK are starting to be treated.

    12 months ago