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The Mill, Director Jake Schreier Break New Ground With Cashmere Cat’s “Emotions” Music Video

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Robert Goldrich
Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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The Mill collaborated with Norwegian musician Cashmere Cat (aka Magnus Høiberg)  and director Jake Schreier of Park Pictures on the groundbreaking music video “Emotions.” The result is not only a visually engaging promo, but an advanced application of real-time technology that pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation.

The Mill were initially tasked with crafting a unique CG character to represent Cashmere Cat in future music videos and appearances. The design team crafted a creature inspired by multiple references including Nordic folklore, Japanese anime, and early aughts gaming. A music video for the track “Emotions” introduces the fairytale feline and her fantasy world.

Schreier is known for his highly choreographed storytelling that takes place within a single take, previously seen in music videos such as Chance the Rapper’s “Same Drugs,” Haim’s “Want You Back” and numerous Francis and the Lights releases.  In order to facilitate this method within a fully-CG environment, The Mill’s artists and technologists executed an ambitious real-time rendered shooting technique. 

Margaret Qualley choreographed and performed for “Emotions.” Filmed on a motion-capture stage, a cutting-edge virtual production pipeline was required to deliver a seamless relationship between the real world and the simulated. A display screen rendering the CG character, landscape, props and structures in real-time. This allowed the director to, in effect, direct the CG character as opposed to the live-action performer, as she moved through the stylized world while being shot with a handheld camera. This allowed the filmmakers to adjust the character actions, the lighting, and even environmental textures, all whilst still on set.

Combining Epic’s game engine Unreal with The Mill’s creative technologists, designers and artists gave the filmmaking team an unprecedented perspective and level of control; making it the first music video of it’s kind.

Aurelien Simon, executive producer, emerging technology at The Mill in Los Angeles, said, “This reimagined approach to filmmaking still allows for traditional cinematic methods. Using this method, creative partners are able to see iterations, makes changes and experiment all in real-time. In this project; environment, creative, physics and technology all combine to create a truly immersive experience.”
  
Schreier commented, “When Magnus first described what he was looking for to me, he said he “wanted to disappear.” He also was making a record that was very influenced by video games, so the thought of building him a video game avatar seemed fun. We started with older references, but his music isn’t a retro version of video game music at all, so ultimately a more modern approach felt right. Magnus and I had been playing a ton of Fortnite together so when The Mill proposed working in the Unreal Engine, it was a natural fit. It was interesting for me to try and meld some of the principles from the minimalist live performance videos I usually work on, with a more traditionally maximalist, animated world. It’s hard to explain how fun it is to have a camera in your hands that can see live into a virtual space. Also, Margaret gave a great performance worth capturing.”

Høiberg added, ““We came to The Mill with a strange idea of a beautiful virtual cat, and I had so much fun working with them to bring her to life.”

Ben Lumsden, business development manager, Unreal Engine Enterprise at Epic Games, concluded, “It’s great to see The Mill pushing virtual production in this way. Princess Catgirl represents a shift in music video production, and both Jake Schreier and Cashmere Cat have shown fearless creativity for this innovative result.”

Credits

Client Cashmere Cat Production Park Pictures Jake Schreier, director; Alex Fisch, Jackie Kelman Bisbee, exec producers; Bria Wentzel, producer; Jancarlo Beck, DP; Margaret Qualley, choreographer/performer. VFX Production The Mill Pete King, exec producer; Daniel Beldy, producer; Michael Novo, production coordinator; Glyn Tebbutt, Daniel Thuresson, shoot supervisor. VFX Creative The Mill Glyn Tebbutt, creative director; Lisha Tan, creative director, character development; Juan Zavala, Matt Connolly, animation; Ed Laag, Sasha Vinogradova, Sidney Tan, design. Emerging Tech  The Mill Aurelien Simon, exec producer; Hiro Miyoshi, developer; Dave Witters, Troy Barsness, technical artists; Tawfeeq Martin, technical innovations manager. Color The Mill Mikey Rossiter, colorist; Evan Bauer, color producer.

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