For their appearances at this years Brit Awards in London and Grammy Awards in LA, U2 used a psychedelic video to back their performances of Get On Your Boots.
Directed by Catherine Owens, the video evokes a combination of old-fashioned Americana and 60s psychedelia that's suited to the song's quick rhythm and socially conscious lyrics. Bono's rock-and-roll swagger brings an element of frivolity to a song that is actually quite serious and at times frightening. The visuals were created by VFX house Loyalkaspar, and edited by Adam Jenkins of Union.
"We only had a few days to come up with three-and-a-half minutes of animation, which is daunting enough, but then you throw in the fact that this is for the biggest band in the world opening the biggest televised award ceremony in music and you begin to get a sense of the pressure we were under," said Beat Baudenbacher, Loyalkaspar’s co-founder/creative director said. "However, the short time frame was actually liberating for us creatively. We didn’t have time to over-think it, we just jumped in feet first and started making stuff."
That ‘stuff’’ includes a collection of loosely knit military and political images, such as an American flag whose stars are made up of a row of X’s meant at first to symbolize kisses, (playing off the song’s opening lyric “the future needs a big kiss”), but then quickly transform into rows of military barricades. Other images include the stripes of the flag forming an equal sign before morphing into an angled kaleidoscope effect. Those visuals are mixed with typography of the song’s lyrics.
Baudenbacher noted that much of the design ideas were initially inspired by drawings from U2 frontman Bono. Because the song is a straightforward rocker with few technical flourishes, Loyalkaspar’s creative team took that as their cue to create in a more organic way. They naturally degraded the look by shooting footage off of video monitors, as well as photocopying the typographic elements, placing them in a lightbox, reshooting and scanning them back into the computer.
“For Bono, the American flag is a very powerful symbol for both good and bad in the world and he wanted it to be a key component in the look,” Delcan said. “Ultimately the song is about getting off your ass and doing something positive in the world and we wanted to create something that visually contrasted war and peace -- something transformative between beauty and destruction, good versus evil -- and I think we achieved that.”
"Working on this project was similar to doing a music video, in that it was a case of matching visuals to the pacing of the song," says Jenkins. "The difference was that the imagery had to complement the four blokes playing in front of the screen not on it."
"Loyal Kaspar provided amazing material to work with," Jenkins continues, "and it was a very collaborative process. Bono provided a basic plan for the band's onstage blocking. He wanted the introduction up until the Edge plays his intro guitar lick to be quite manic. When the lyrics came in, he wanted the words to appear on full-colour palets. The chorus, breakdown, intro and outro were our moments to show off; that's where the band gave us full reign to really push it."
While the initial video was created for the Grammy's, U2 then asked Union to re-edit a version for their performance at the Brits. Additional versions have been created for performances in Germany and France.
"According to Wikipedia, there's 3,166 countries in the world," muses Jenkins, "so God help us if U2 goes on tour."