Ned Botwood - 30th June 2019

A motion-capture performer strays too far from the axis of reality, in this visceral mind-bender for Ed Sheehan by Ryan Staake.

Dancer Courtney Scarr treats us to a show-stopping routine in a MoCap studio, and on screen, her movements carry through to a shimmering, shifting CG universe. Travelling between these fantasies and the reality of the studio, Scarr assumes different identities - including 3D avatars of Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper. But when it’s time for her to hang up her bodysuit and call it a day, she finds it hard to leave this oscillating fantasy behind…

The video is a remarkable achievement for Moving Picture Company, who were tasked with turning round the entire project in just three and a half weeks. MPC is obviously a global leader in VFX, but this required all kinds of ingenious improvisation to make it happen. For example, when Sheeran was not available for a photogrammetry, Dominic Alderson created his 3D avatar from his Madame Tussauds waxwork. More of this iintricate process is revealed in a Behind the Scenes video. 

While this is a masterclass in visual effects, a mention should go to Scarr and her choreographer Erin Murray. The confident swagger of their dance routine anchors this video in reality, and holds the audience's hand through the rapid shifts and glitches of this digital fantasia.

RYAN STAAKE:

This was one of those ideas you *think* will work on paper, but can’t be 100% sure will actually succeed.

“I’ve been interested in shooting a motion capture centric project for some time. To me, the austere cinematic minimalism and data centric nature of a motion capture stage make for a fascinating location. (I’m not the first to think this by any stretch, Holy Motors featured an incredible motion capture stage sequence). What I wanted to play with inside a motion capture based film was the idea that we could oscillate between reality and alternate reality, ultimately resulting in an ending in which we may not know what’s real and what’s synthetic.

"When the Ed brief came along, I saw an interesting connection between the lyrics “cross me cross her” and this idea of crossing between a realistic portrayal of someone and many alternative portrayals of this person. From there I worked with our incredibly talented choreographer Erin Murray, our dancer Courtney Scarr, and our DP Kristian Zuniga to concoct an elaborate dance that would explore these concepts while subtly (and not so subtly) connecting to the lyrical content.

"After we wrapped photography, I worked with an incredible team assembled at MPC London to weave together a range of surreal worlds into a single timeline. For me, it was an incredibly challenging, fun and rewarding project - definitely one of those ideas you *think* will work on paper, but can’t be 100% sure will actually succeed.”

PRO Credits

Credits

DirectorRyan Staake
ProducerTom Knight
Executive ProducerNatalie Arnett
Director of PhotographyKristian Zuniga
SteadicamMichael Klein
EditorSam Bould
ColouristDuncan Russell
Grading companyMPC
Post production companyMPC
VFXMPC
Lead actorCourtney Scarr
CommissionerDan Curwin
LabelAtlantic Records
ChoreographerErin Murray
Other creditsCG Supervisor: Dominic Alderson Producer: Sandra Eklund Head Of Production: Luke Raffety MPC MD: Jonathan Davies NYC Production Company: Pomp&Clout NYC Production: Kevin Staake, Ryen Bartlett, Andrew Chennisi Motion Capture: Silver Spoon Animation 3D Scanning: Peter Puskas

Ned Botwood - 30th June 2019

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