ATLANTA — Boutique visual effects studio MOD (mod-creations.com) recently completed two music videos for artists Travis Scott and Jay Rock. MOD collaborated with director Dave Meyers onSicko Mode (featuring Drake), which has earned Grammy nominations for “Best Rap Performance” and “Best Rap Song”, and garnered more than 100 million views across social channels. The studio produced more than 200 visual effects shots for the clip, which serves as a surreal tribute to Scott’s hometown of Houston. VFX range from colorfully-stylized renderings of Houston streets to a mosaic of Drake’s face that splinters as he sings.
Sicko Mode is from Scott’s Astroworld album and unleashes a whirlwind of hypnotic visuals, ranging from colorfully stylized renderings of Houston streets (caused by a solar eclipse) to a scene of Scott performing in front of a music store with foreground and background perspectives warping to the rhythm of the music.
“Dave’s videos are always visually rich and conceptually daring,” says creative director/VFX supervisor Les Umberger, whose collaborations with Meyers goes back many years, including work for Missy Elliot and Pink. “For this one, he pulled out all the stops and packed it with fascinating imagery.”
Umberger assisted Meyers with pre-production visual effects planning and was also on-set for the production’s three shoot days in Houston. He notes that concepts for some of the video’s most imaginative visuals evolved considerably as the project proceeded through production and post.
Among the more striking visuals is an image of Drake face, turned into a mosaic that splinters into pieces and leaves behind a skull as he sings.
“All of the effects have a kind of musicality,” says Umberger. “The scene in front of the music store, where Travis grows bigger and smaller while the background does the opposite, was another rhythmic effect. I’m not sure that’s ever been done before.”
Jay Rock’s Win video was also directed by Meyers and it, too, received a Grammy nomination in the “Best Rap Song” category. For this piece, Umberger shot slow motion images of pyrotechnics and acrobats performing backflips, which MOD’s team of artists then composited into a series of monochromatic landscapes.
The video work follows MOD’s recent move into new studio space in Atlanta.
“We leased a 1940s-vintage bungalow,” Umberger explains. “It provides the space we need and gives us a certain anonymity. As we work with many top commercial clients and a lot of unreleased music, that is important. It also feels like a home…like you’re hanging out a friend’s house. People who drive by have no idea of the amount of pop culture that’s being created inside.”
MOD’s toolkit includes Autodesk Flame and 3ds Max, Foundry’s Nuke, SideFX Houdini and Adobe’s Photoshop and Adobe After Effects.