Nice Shoes has created the VFX for a 90-second promo video for Kanye West in the style of an Italian fresco to build buzz around the release of his new single Power.
The video collage, which premiered on August 5 on MTV, engaged all of the New York-based studio's creative services. Nice Shoes' VFX, color grading and design teams spent a month compositing 400+ layers in Flame to depict Kanye as a doomed emperor presiding over a sensual, yet apocalyptic spectacle.
"Gradually each figure, with its own unique movement, creeps into the screen and it ends with a crescendo of fireworks and impending doom," says Nice Shoes' creative director Aron Baxter. "You see something new every time you watch it."
Artist Marco Brambilla filmed Kanye along with numerous nude models individually against a greenscreen. Nice Shoes was called on to work with Brambilla to further develop the multi-layered moving painting by compositing the figures and camera-moves in this intricate and dramatic 3D landscape.
Aron Baxter and his team introduced chiaroscuro lighting throughout the piece to create an increased sense of depth to the moving canvas and explored ways to heighten the overall sense of emotion in this tantalizing and macabre scene.
Midway through the project, MTV offered a broadcast debut, leading to the need for a 'clean' version. So Brambilla and Nice Shoes devised interesting ways to creatively cover up the models by draping the female figures with strategically placed garments, jewelry and flowing fabric.
Each female figure required a different treatment depending on how she moved in the frame. For example, Baxter and his team painted bikini tops for some figures and tracked separately shot sheer fabrics that hugged the contours of other models' bodies.
In the days before the MTV premiere, Colorist Ron Sudul worked closely with the VFX team to hone and tweak the color grade in real-time on the Baselight system. This allowed Brambilla to immediately evaluate and make changes based on a complete picture. As a result, Nice Shoes was able to help the director and West bring their canvas to life with a painter's consistency.
"There was so much detail," says Sudul. "We wanted to give it some density and richness but keep all the information, the shadows, the highlights and just let it be the beautiful piece of art that it is."
Kanye summed up the piece on his Twitter feed by exclaiming, "It's not a video, it's a painting!"