Korn recently released a music vdieo off their upcoming album Requiem, which will be available in February. Start the Healing was directed by Tim Saccenti and combines live action and animated visual effects that represent death and re-birth amidst an array creatures and humanoids. The band’s performance footage symbolizes the dawn of a new era.
"Our idea for this video was to mutate that aspect of the DNA of Korn, of what makes them so inspiring, their mix of raw power and transportive aesthetics and human emotion,” explains the director, who collaborated with DP Joshua Zucker-Pluda and 3D artist Anthony Ciannamea on the project.
“We wanted to create a dreamlike mix of IRL performance, capturing the visceral quality of their infamous live shows, with a contemporary take on the nightmare fuel visual lore of the band legacy,” Saccenti adds. “Knowing they worked with Alien designer artist H.R. Giger was our jumping off point visually, but we wanted to push them into a modern, limbo, liminal-space world.”
"Start the Healing is an excellent example of collaboration,” notes Joshua Zucker-Pluda, who shot the piece. “The direction, cinematography, editing and VFX all respond and build off each other, creating a cohesive and visually arresting video.
“Tim wanted a very distinct visual style for the cinematography, and we decided to create a look in-camera,” Zucker-Pluda explains. “To prep for this, Tim and Anthony presented me with visual samples they'd built. I'd then interpret that through the point of view of cinematography - lighting, movement and lenses. I used a variety of tools and techniques to create a specific aesthetic, completely in-camera. Usually, doing this up-front can paint the VFX into a corner, but we were giving Anthony clips as we were shooting them, and in response, he would build looks in realtime and send them back to us. So Anthony saw what I was shooting and responded to that - and then I saw how Anthony was responding, which then informed how we shot on-set. I think this process yielded a project with a very distinct visual aesthetic where you can't tell where the cinematography ends and the VFX begins.”
“I was focused on trying to fuze some of the ‘impossible’ seamless transition and camera moves that are allowed with a virtual camera in 3D with a IRL camera setup,” adds Saccenti. “Synthesising the two worlds took the coordinated effort of the camera department, lighting, 3D, editor and colorist. We worked backwards from pre-vis camera moves and lighting in 3D that we knew were repeatable in our live setup, creating videomatics to collect the various movements and lighting we were trying to achieve. Those videos, and a heavy use of the Miro board collaboration tool, was how we coordinated the teams.”
“Early on in (the) pitch, Tim shared a treatment of the creatures' sculptural evolution with broad-stroke visual references that we honed together using a virtual white-boarding app called Miro,” says Ciannamea. “I've been using this tool for about six years now with all of my remote collaborators and it's absolutely indispensable; a virtually infinite war room for mind-mapping, organizing reference materials and sharing work in progress…Working in a collaborative white-boarding tool made it effortless for me to help Tim shape his vision because he could drop in reference from anywhere on the web or snap pics from a sketchbook and immediately label and arrange the ideas into scenes and transitions together — all while we were on the phone.”
Ciannamea says he prioritized designing for parametric control on all of the 3D scenes and rigs rather than spending a lot of time on the digital sculptures.
“I wanted to be able to get as many looks and takes from each rig as possible, given how much coverage we were aiming for in the edit,” he explains. “Using X-Particles, I was able to quickly seed a ton of variations on the tendrils with a lot of room for tweaking. They wound up becoming a repeat motif throughout the video, so it worked out well.”
Ciannamea calls editor Matt Posey the project’s ‘secret ingredient’.
“Having an editor on board that I could trust to cover for me during times when I needed to move on from a shot but I knew I wasn't 100 percent there yet was invaluable. There are so many dynamic moments in the final cut that would not have been as powerful without him taking it over the finish line.”