NYC’s Roof Studio recently partnered with Australian music duo Empire of the Sun on their music video High and Low, a surreal visual journey into a psychedelic trip, which captures the song’s celebration of the innocence and boldness of youth. The lead single from the band’s upcoming Two Vines LP, “High and Low” follows a small group of people as they are guided by a Shaman into the forest to indulge in the experience of mind-changing substances. Using a mix of live-action and animation, the video shows the group’s trip experience — the Empire of the Sun members serve as “emperors.”
Roof and Empire of the Sun previously worked together on the Honda Civic The Dreamer spot via ad agency RPA, which combined Roof’s visual language and direction with the band’s “Walking on a Dream” track.
“We recognized that there was something special in our initial partnership,” says Vinicius Costa, Roof Studio co-founder/director. “[The band] wanted a psychedelic film with a strong connection to nature to visually, yet indirectly, represent the mind-bending journey. However, they were open to our ideas on execution.”
The only constraints Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore had were not to take a too-literal approach to the visualization of the lyrics. In contrast to the duo’s previous album’s desert landscape art direction, this time around they wanted to explore a tropical environment. Initially, Roof sought to create the entire film in CG, however, due to the limited timeframe of three weeks, they felt it was best to combine live-action with animation in order to focus on providing more than 40 realistic CG shots. This shift in direction spurred the studio to develop the natural and psychedelic narratives that tie together.
“The band came to us with a clear point of view, even referencing aspects of some of our previous work,” says Guto Terni, Roof Studio co-founder/director. “From there, we created a loose narrative based on the right balance of live-action and post production visuals. As directors, we engage in every step of the process, from concept to storyboarding and pre-visualization to shooting, and finally, post production and finishing. This project really showcased our full range of capabilities.”
Roof’s directors, Costa, Terni and Sam Mason, were on set for both live-action shoots, including the band shoot in a Los Angeles studio, and the actors and extras shoot in Costa Rica, which provided the tropical aesthetics. Roof had one week to plan and facilitate both shoots and then two weeks to execute the ambitious CG animation.
Roof used a 3D scan of Steele and Littlemore through a technique called photogrammetry in order to create the telescope shot featured in the video. This process created multiple images of the band in which the studio was able to generate a 3D version of its members. From there, Roof added cloth simulation in CG to mimic wind blowing their clothes for more believability. The result is a fantastic shot in which only the band members’ faces are real and the remaining is CG.
Roof used a mix of technology, including Nuke, After Effects, Maya, Modo, 3D Max and Corona to blend of live-action and animation.