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Elbow 'Empires' by BWTV

David Knight - 4th Sept 2019

Inspired by the first line sung by Guy Garvey in Elbow's Empire - "Baby, empires crumble all the time..." - directing team BWTV provide a chilling and sober vision of the Apocalypse.

There's is a montage of a nearly deserted world, where high rise buildings fall into dust, or slowly disintegrate, and the signs of a devastating human footprint is seen in judiciously assembled newsreel footage, chronicling the effects of pollution, climate warming, and war.

That is mixed with CG animation, where BWTV have created a metropolis undergoing longterm decay - which in itself provides a form of relief from the grim message; a form of light at the end of the bleakness.

Crucially, these visuals work extremely well with Garvey's maudlin, reflective vocals on Empire - a new track taken from Elbow's forthcoming album Giants Of All Sizes, released in October.


"This track is so crucially of the moment, the whole album in fact. It really spoke to us. It’s no secret we are living in sad, strange times and so we talked with the band about making a video that would confront some of the uncomfortable and increasingly unavoidable truths that define where we are at as a civilisation; a kind of swan song.

"As we started working into the brief it soon became clear that recycling material and creating computer generated content was an appropriate approach to tackle the subject matter we were dealing with. Everything you see is either found, synthesised or remixed keeping the productions carbon footprint to an absolute minimum. We gathered material from all over the world, from news sources, filmmakers, anything and everything we could get our hands on. The video features burning landfills in India, Californian forest fires, Ukrainian riots, post-war Damascus, Indonesian typhoons, South American protests and much more.

"We based our CG model on existing cities, bringing together architectural elements from Shanghai high-rises and Hong Kong slums to create an artificial metropolis we could then tear apart. It’s an odd feeling working so hard on building something thats only purpose is to be destroyed - especially while chewing on the other images in the video.

"It’s a strange way to spend a summer - there were a lot of dark days, late nights and CG fever dreams. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but creatively we'd discussed trying to end the video on a lighter, more positive note. This is something that became more and more important to us as the project went on. After collapse comes the time to rebuild so we wanted to hang onto the hope that when something ends, it gives space for something new to begin."

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David Knight - 4th Sept 2019


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Production Company
Executive Producer
Jack Lightfoot
Production Manager
Emily Vincent


Daniel Davies


Oisín O'Driscoll
Colour grade company
The Mill


Director's Representation
Lock It In


Emily Tedrake

Other credits

VFX Assistant

Gustav Nycz

Digital Matte Painting

Dave Gibbons

Digital Artist

James Corden

David Knight - 4th Sept 2019

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