If you're tired of watching music videos featuring people with clothes on, or, worse yet, videos in which people's bodies are constructed according to the basic laws of biology, then you need to check out the Klaxons' Twin Flames, which both dispenses with the excess outerwear and gives us a whole slew of new ways to look at the human body.
This magical metamorphosis is courtesy of Absolute London and its design/animation arm BlindPig, who collaborated with Partizan director Saam Farahmand to deliver all post, effects, and Telecine for a clip that makes the gaggle in Star Wars' Cantina scene look as staid as a group photo from a New England prep school yearbook.
The video starts off normal enough, with a large group of instrument-playing amigos rocking out. Things get a bit weird when the group starts forming their bodies into cylinders, and earn their craziness credentials when they all melt together into one otherworldly superbody -- in one case, a man's torso is molded to a woman's torso, which in turn juts into a man's leg where the head is supposed to be. Next thing you know, everyone is naked and making out. Now that's a party.
"This was an extremely challenging and ambitious job," noted lead artist Ric Comline. "We worked closely with Saam to ensure flawless integration of the live action and VFX."
Farahmand created the basis for the unique shots by arranging the characters around six custom-designed and built steel sculptures. Using motion control to design fluid, repeatable camera moves, Saam shot successive passes of the performers with their limbs locked into place, then Absolute and the BlindPig team combined passes with limbs seamlessly interlocking in post afterward.
Connecting the various body parts was itself an extensive process that required creation of an all-new technique.
"When we started combining the limbs, we realized that it was important to either prioritize one of the partner's limbs over the other, or quite often to completely remove and rebuild the original limbs," continues Comline. "This meant that if someone was, for instance, holding an arm that needed to be removed in front of their body, we would have to rebuild the body over the top of the arm to remove it - and all this was before we even started to join the bodies."
Comline and his crew then removed all traces of the sculptures, a process complicated by the sheer volume of cleanup required in each shot, the dramatic sweeping camera moves, and the duration of the shots, which ranged from 500 to 1,000 frames.
All of the fake limbs had to be meticulously tracked in, sometimes requiring two- or four-point tracks and as many as 16 joins in. For the more challenging joins, the crew made 3D geometry in Maya that roughly matched the camera moves and then tracked and comped the footage in with Nuke. Absolute also used After Effects and Combustion, and Flame to conform the footage, handle one of the shots, and then to do overall tweaking and grading as they laid it to tape.