- Thursday, Sep. 3, 2009
The music video of the stirring title track from Coldplay's double platinum album, "Viva la Vida," has netted four nominations in the coveted MTV Video Music Awards (VMA), including a Best Art Direction nod for Gregory de Maria of creative studio Resident (www.weareresident.com). VMA winners will be announced September 13 in New York City.
De Maria's art direction was inspired by the band's album cover where Eugene Delacroix's landmark painting, "Liberty Leading the People," depicts Liberty boldly taking citizens to the barricades in France's July Revolution of 1830. Hype Williams of Naalia Pictures directed the music video in which the band performs against a backdrop of rich, swirling elements plucked from the painting and enhanced and treated with VFX crafted by Resident.
The "Viva la Vida" video marked the latest in a long string of Resident collaborations with Williams that has included videos for Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z. When Williams initially approached de Maria about the Coldplay project the two initially spent time discussing the style of the video. Later de Maria presented various styles of paint and light effects to Hype and the band for their review, and they all decided to recast the 19th century Romantic painting in a contemporary context.
"We knew we had to stay in keeping with the color palette of Romanticism – dark browns, reds, yellows and dense black," says de Maria. "We created visual effects with that look, creating a kind of live-action motion painting that gave the effect of a subtly-moving background. The song is very dynamic and powerful, so a subtle sense of motion was important."
With just two weeks to turn around the VFX, de Maria attended the band's two-day greenscreen shoot then returned to Resident to head the team tasked with crafting the background elements, with Hype Williams always taking time to oversee the developing work, despite his crazy schedule at the time.
The Resident team then used an array of Maya and After Effects plug-ins and filters to distort segments of the painting – the tricolore flag, Liberty brandishing a bayonette, the barricade's heavy atmospherics – for a floating, vaporous brush-and-paint feel. De Maria wove in dramatic time-lapse shots of rushing clouds that were also treated to lend a painterly perspective.
Coldplay was keyed out of the greenscreen footage with Flame and composited against the graphic backgrounds; band members' eyes were saturated with color, slight halos were added around the musicians, and a proprietary textural effect was layered over the backdrop and the performance footage to give the overall image the craquelure or cracked varnish effect of an aged painting.
To open and close the music video the Resident team chose a romantic rose motif, "the simplest but perhaps the most poetic" of several options Resident proposed. An overhead shot of a time-lapse rose unfurling, which was given the same VFX treatment as the video to follow, introduces the song. At the song's conclusion individual band members, clad in war-torn Delacroix-era military uniforms, appear to disintegrate into rose petals, a proprietary effect created by Resident and enhanced with real rose petals tracked and comped over the men.
In addition to de Maria's art direction, credits for the Resident team include Flame artists Martin Lazaro and Claudia d'Enjoy; 3D animator Orges Kokoshari; and animators Andrew Hamilton, Dimitri Luedemann, Francis Oh, Erik Rasmussen, Cory Stoffa, and Adam Vandine.
About Resident Creative Studio
Resident is a globally-influenced visual effects boutique. Based in downtown New York City, its international team of designers creates photorealistic CG, motion graphics, and complete production services to broadcast and multimedia producers. Founded in 2007, Resident's clients have included Avon, Heineken, Verizon, Pepsi, Febreze, Max Factor, Time Warner, and Vitamin Water. Music Videos include Kanye West, Jay Z, Kenna and Lupe Fiasco. www.weareresident.com