Montreal’s Rodeo FX (www.rodeofx.com) was tagged to create the visual effects for Justin Timberlake’s new music video for his latest release, Supplies. The VFX studio’s advertising team delivered over 100 visual effects shots in under a month of production.
The video — from pre-production to delivery — was accomplished in a short time span, calling on Rodeo FX’s artists to combine their technical talent and dexterity with a certain artistic freedom, ultimately influencing and enhancing the final look of the video. The newly-released clip features 10 distinct scenes, each with unique technical and artistic requirements and challenges.
According to Erik Gagnon, Rodeo FX’s art director on Supplies, “[Director] Dave Meyers’ imagination has no limits and he keeps an open mind. For this video in particular, he brought us his creative ideas and gave us room to add to them. I’d say he creates in ‘inception’ mode, and the fit with him and our artists was perfect. The
Supplies video features several scenes, each of which evolved throughout our collaboration. Some scenes were abandoned, others modified, and some enhanced by the ideas our team brought to the table.
“I believe that Dave relied on the talent and creativity of our artists, which is the edge that Rodeo FX brings to a production. In this particular project, he was looking for a great variety of work, from simple crowd duplication, to elaborate crowd duplication — as seen in the scene of floating bodies — matte paintings [were used] to enhance certain environments, [as well as] green screen composition. He was also looking for our creative contributions and gave us carte blanche at times, for example with the fire alley scene during the bridge of the song.”
Rodeo FX’s artistic design is seen throughout the video, including, for instance, in the white world and the post-apocalyptic world. The team’s VFX compositor was also given a certain carte blanche during the bridge scene to reinforce the sensual moment amid the chaos between the singer and actress Eiza Gonzales.
“For our team, this has been an extraordinary project in every way,” continues Gagnon. “After working with Dave on Katy Perry’s Swish Swish video, our team was excited to collaborate with him again, and of course we were thrilled to work with Justin Timberlake and his team. This project exemplifies the incredible talent and ability at Rodeo FX. Given the tight deadlines and constraints of this project, I’m incredibly proud of how our team came together to help and support one another, and came up with efficient solutions to the challenges we faced, often of a complex nature.”
Speaking of tight deadlines, Gagnon said the quick turnaround certainly presented its challenges. “Our biggest constraint on this project was time. As I said previously, Dave is very creative, and our biggest challenge was channeling all his creativity within our timelines. From the first calls with the director, my bidding producer, Andre U Montambeault, Xavier Fourmond, one of our outstanding Flame artists, and myself set out to develop methods to facilitate shooting, decompose the scenes, visualize the elements to shoot, and in general see how we could improve the various scenes.
“The shooting for the video took place over four nights, including three with Justin Timberlake, and involved location changes with complex set-ups. A second unit shot various additional elements. Filming was fast and efficient, especially considering that we encountered unforeseen issues and surprises during each night of filming, but I was able to get all the pictures, elements and plates that I needed for post production.
“During post production, we encountered challenges in every scene. A particular scene, with the floating bodies, required us to film each extra jumping on a trampoline at 200fps. To bring them all together, our team used a Python plug-in developed in-house for ‘art-directable particle system replacement’ to set the bodies in the air.”
The technical complexity of this video is highlighted in the compositing that was done for the four main environment matte paintings, including greenscreen footage and crowd duplication.
In all, there were around 20 artists from different disciplines that took part in creating the music video, many of which relied on Flame, Nuke and 3Dequalizer for tracking to complete the visual effects.
Gagnon adds, “Our director gave us a base to focus on, but the creative latitude and trust that Dave gave us was immense. On projects of this kind, artists are not confined to execute the composition of images on strict terms, the technical side is very important but leaves room for the collective creativity of the artists involved. I’m incredibly proud of how we worked together and overcame the challenges we faced in this project.”