VFX house Gradient FX created a gory yet somehow charming singing heart to add an unexpected twist to the promo for Gnarls Barkley’s softly-spoken new single.
The video for Gnarls Barkley’s new single, Who’s Gonna Save My Soul, starts off normally enough: in an anonymous diner, a couple earnestly discuss the end of their relationship over the song’s opening strains.
The woman spiels platitudes while the man looks on aghast, struggling to maintain his composure. The sheer mundanity of the opening section means that when things get weird it’s startling, to say the least.
The recently dumped man seizes his knife and plunges it into his chest, cutting a gash before reaching inside to wrench out his heart and present it to the woman, who protests briefly while it’s explained to her that it is, in fact, hers now.
As she looks at the heart lying messily on a plate, the gory lump grows arms, legs and a huge, toothy mouth before standing up, grabbing a broccoli floret from her plate and serenading the woman.
The heart, still dripping blood onto every surface, proceeds to walk along the tables and counters of the diner, moving the customers to sympathetic tears.
The promo was directed by Chris Milk, who enlisted VFX house Gradient FX to ensure that the heart was naturalistic. Milk was keen to avoid an overtly ‘CG’ look for the heart, and initially wanted to keep the CG to a minimum – a hard task considering the nature of the promo’s star.
“When Chris and his producer presented the script, he was planning on shooting an actor in a heart suit and then shooting Cee-lo’s [Gnarls Barkley’s singer] face with the emphasis on his lips while he sang, then tracking the lips onto the actor in the suit,” says Olcun Tan, the project’s VFX and CG supervisor.