New Kerli's music video "Walking On Air" is another journey through the looking-glass. Directed by Aggressive, the piece takes place in a strange world between Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton. A mysterious character offers a strange doll to a girl - Kerli - who lives in an isolated house and which is a likeness of her face. Between fantastic tales to asian legends, the video goes beyond the influence of its models thanks to a very productive imagination of its creators. All the compositing was done in After Effects, all the 3D in 3DS Max.
Aggressive is the brainchild of Alex Topaller and Dan Shapiro, best known for the visual wizardry they inject into their music videos and commercials. The two met not long after Alex moved to the US, hopscotching through Israel, Belgium and Russia. He and the New York City native Dan became fast friends, discovering that in addition to their obsessions with music and impulsive road trips, they shared a mutual talent and taste for creating gorgeous visuals onscreen. Both proficient in visual effects, the two got their start creating corporate branding campaigns for G2 / Grey Worldwide, and swiftly moved into the glossy post-production world of music videos and commercials, before setting off to direct on their own. With a hands-on attitude, the two personally tackle their projects intensively and in all aspects, from concept to live-shoot to post production and VFX, ensuring every frame gets their own personal touch. To date, Aggressive has directed music videos for some of the world's biggest artists (Juanes, Megadeth, Bloc Party, etc.), as well as a number of broadcast and online spots for clients such as MTV, Subway, AT&T, UL, and more.
It's worth asking some questions to Alex and Dan who have kindly answered our interview.
- How did you become involved on this project ?
We were approached by Island/Def Jam Records to submit a treatment for this track. Months earlier, Dan and I had discussed the concept of an 'inverted' house, where everything is functionally and at times visually the polar opposite of what it should/is expected to be; and this track came at the perfect time to bring that idea to life.
- Could you tell us how did the collaboration with Kerli go ?
It was equally exciting for the both of us. It was her first big music video and she was enthusiastic to be involved in the process, and we'd often informally jump on the phone at any hour of day to share ideas. Her enthusiasim came through to the screen, as she commited herself and followed through with a tremendous performance at the (very long) shoot. For us it was an exciting idea that we had been looking forward to shooting and we were thrilled that Kerli was such a good match for it.
- The creepy and fantasy mood looks thrilling. Who or what inspires you for the overall aesthetics ?
We were particularly inspired with the stylings of Mark Romanek's NIN 'Perfect Drug' video, and the works of surreal painter Raphael Oblinski.
- What was the most challenging part of this work ? What was the most pleasant one ?
This video was a pleasure to work on, and I think most of the real challenges lay in the pre-production leading up to the shoot, mostly in finding the specific props and wardrobe needed for realizing the strange visuals. For example, the little marionette version of Kerli was an ordeal; it had to be a near-perfect custom likeness of Kerli herself (stylized similarly to her album artwork), and look good enough to be featured onscreen. After speaking to every marionette craftsman and special effects shop in the country (and many around the world) to no avail, we found that Korean Ball-Joint fashion dolls were closest to what we needed. We bought one at the last minute, (getting very acquainted with doll dress and wig sizes and styles), and had it rush-custom painted and rigged to become our marionette, only getting all the final parts together a day or two before the shoot. THEN... we had to find an awesome prosthetics artist who could make a life-size version of this little marionette, mask and all... The most pleasant part of working on this video was the experience of collaborating with so many talented people who were genuinely excited about the idea, and who felt they had to go above and beyond what was expected in making it happen. Everyone blew us away.
- How long did production and post-production take for this music video ?
We had about two weeks of pre-production for a one day shoot; all post production and VFX took about 4 weeks.
- What was the main difference in the creative process between directing a music video and directing a commercial ?
The politics. In music videos the creative process is more fluid and spontaneous, with more room to really stretch out and try new things, while in commercials each step is filtered through the hierarchies and approval processes of agencies and clients.
Great making of VFX: http://www.refused.tv/aggressive/kerli/kerli_vfx_breakdown/
Behind the scenes content : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou3lSRJUax8.
Kerli "Walking On Air" (Island/IDJMG)
Aggressive, directors | JP Fox, producer | Refused TV, production co | Damian Acevedo, DP | Jason Yantz, editor | Darcy Scanlin, art director