MPC’s visual effects studios in Los Angeles and Bangalore teamed with director Hiro Murai of Doomsday Entertainment on this stunning music video, “Sad Day,” for FKA twigs. The clip’s artistry propelled it to the #1 slot in SHOOT’s quarterly Top Ten VFX/Animation Chart.
Beginning in a café late at night, the music video follows FKA twigs as she encounters an unidentified man and they start to sword-fight, breaking out of the café and into the streets. The visually unique video--for the pensive song “Sad Day” from FKA twigs’ latest album “MAGDALENE”--is based on the sensual movements of Wushu martial arts, which is used to depict the complex relationship between the two characters.
MPC worked in close collaboration with Murai throughout, helping to create the choreographed fight sequence across buildings, epic smashes through shop windows, and a dramatic final scene where FKA twigs is sliced in half with a samurai sword. Digital matte painting was also used throughout to build out and enhance the gritty backdrops.
The effects team, led by MPC’s creative director Michael Gregory, VFX supervisor Toya Drechsler and CG supervisor Corinne DeOrsay, helped define the final sequence, including the look of the FKA twigs’ anatomy “post-slice.” Gregory said, “We carried out a test shoot beforehand to determine how the split would work and how to practically shoot it. We then modeled her in 3D and split her in two from her waist up. We re-projected the live action over the split model, creating a hollow shell for the CG to go on top.”
He added, “It was important that the sequence was not bloody or gory; instead it needed to look beautiful and otherworldly. For her new inner body, we concepted in 2D based on some key images from Hiro, and we then moved into 3D look development, with Hiro’s original vision organically morphing into something that we were all happy with.”
The end result is an ethereal yet warm and inviting material, incorporating the qualities of blooming flowers and glistening elements.
Drechsler, who also served as co-head of Nuke for MPC, shared, “I think the biggest creative challenge on this job was to emulate Hiro’s description of a feeling--a ‘warm, inviting hug’ in pixel form. We did a lot of concepts, tests and references to finally land on the outerworldly petal interior of twigs’ body and then pushed the look of it, carefully avoiding the two extremes of gore on one side and something too glowy/magical on the other, which allowed us to stay within the realm of surreal realism.”
The film was shot by DP Larkin Seiple and graded by MPC’s Ricky Gausis, enhancing the final piece and looking at each sequence independently. “As the video moves through the different set ups, Hiro, Larkin and I were given the opportunity to give each one its own identity, in some respects,” Gausis commented. Referring to the diner scene, he added, “The warm and sweaty diner plays well against the street-fighting sequence where we were liking the more cyan/green tones. This in turn offset really nicely against the warm apartment which was more intimate and inviting when compared to the gritty warmth we see earlier in the diner.”
This marks a continued collaboration between Gausis and Murai, who have a longstanding relationship, previously teaming up on the “This is America” music video by Childish Gambino, multiple commercials, FX’s Atlanta series and Childish Gambino’s film Guava Island.
Murai is an alum of SHOOT’s 2010 New Directors Showcase and a three-time Emmy Award nominee--two of the nods coming for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2017 and 2018 as EP on Atlanta, and one in 2018 for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series on the strength of the “Teddy Perkins” episode of Atlanta.
Click here for this quarter’s Top Ten VFX and Animation Chart.
Client FKA twigs/”Sad Day” track from her MAGDALENE album Production Doomsday Entertainment Hiro Murai, director/producer; Larkin Seiple, DP; Jason Cole, Danielle Hinde, Brad Weston, Anita Gou, Nate Matteson, Michael Stirton, FDA twigs, producers. Production Services Company (UK) FRIEND Editorial PARALLAX Luke Lynch, editor. Sound Design/Mix Trevor Gates. VFX & Grade MPC, Culver City, Calif., and Bangalore Michael Gregory, creative director; Elexis Stearn, exec producer; Nicole Saccardi, sr. VFX producer; John Edson, VFX coordinator; Sanchit Soi, production manager; Sririthika Iyer, production coordinator; Toya Drechsler, VFX supervisor; Corinne DeOrsay, CG supervisor; Zdravko “Zee” Stoitchkov, Jim Radford, VFX set supervisors; Siju Murugan, Bangalore head of 3D; Ragest Ramachandran, prep lead; Mahendranatha Reddy, roto lead; Siva Priyan Seetharaman, tracking lead; Jinguang Huang, FX artists; Mason Dash, lighter; Christian Sanchez, modeler; Andy Roberts, Navid Sanati, Hector Cabrera, Luis Artigas, Peter Ulukpo, Balakrishnan Ramadoss, George Gijo Peter, Nanda Kumar Perumal Pillai, Stevenson G, compositors; Alex J., Arulanandhan P, Jaswan Vishnu Prasath Balla Mohan Rao, Jayakumar R, Padmapriya K, Veerapandiyan Devendhiran, prep team; Gretchen Asmar, rigging; Ravisankar S, Suvojit Ghosh, roto; Ankit Dheraj Toppo, Gayathri Sakthivel, Muruganantham T, Muthyalakrishnaiah Doddi, Nithin T K, Sathya Narayanan, Shridhar Bhat, Sreenivasa Aditya, Tejashwini N, Vishal Bhaskar Darkunde, tracking; Ricky Gausis, colorist; Meghan Lang Bice, exec producer, color; Sasha Price, color producer; Sam Ziaie, color assistant. (Toolbox: Nuke, Nuke Studio, Keen tools, Baselight, Houdini)