VFX in Music Videos, Experimenting with the clone effect


di Massimiliano Manzo, Giorgia Salis, Francesco Strada


Music video date back in the past, starting in the 1940’s with “Soundies”, simple clips mainly showing dances and choreographies, they were presented in special jukeboxes kept in bar and restaurants. In the 60’s music videos gained more of a promotional role for bands, being the Beatles an example of such use in the music industry. Later Australia’s “Countdown” and UK’s “Top Of The Pops” began airing music videos in television but the game changing event in 1981 was the launch in the US of the video channel MTV airing “Video Killed The Radio Star” by The Buggles, starting a 24 hour a day music video broadcast. All throughout the 80’s many bands and singers such as Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel and Madonna, gained popularity thanks to these videos. At the beginning of the 90’s MTV started listing also the directors, showing that they had become an important medium, artists like Chris Cunningham, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Mark Romanek began working in this time.

These directors started experimenting with a totality of techniques and visual effects, using compositing and animation technology in order to fully express their visions; crafting some of the most exceptional music videos of all time. We got inspired from the usage of cloning effect in clips like “Come Into My World” (performed by Kylie Minogue, directed by Michel Gondry) and “Tensione Evolutiva” (performed by Lorenzo Jovanotti, directed by Gabriele Muccino). A remarkable feature in both clips is the camera moving along with the clones. In the former video this was accomplished with the usage of a motion control[1], while the latter was filmed with a 10K resolution and then a virtual camera was implemented in AE[2]. Due to technical limitations we weren’t able to replicate this but we experimented with the cloning effect realizing a short music clip featuring “The Hardest Button To Button” by The White Stripes.

To achieve the illusion we filmed two different shots with the camera on a tripod in order to keep the setting and the framing as similar as possible: only the character and some objects were moved and always placed in specific positions. We imported such clips in After Effects placing one on top of the other in two different levels. With a mask drawn using the pen tool we revealed just a portion of the second clip, the one were the clone acted, and we animated the mask in order to make it follow the clone adding key frames to the mask shape. To avoid the perception of the mask we had to fix to main problems one was not to show a clear-cut between the two shots, this was fixed changing the mask feather. Secondly we had to manage differences in light for the two different clips, using RGB curves we were able to obtain almost the exact same exposure achieving the illusion of just one shot. Once the clone had gone from the scene we slowly revealed the underlying clip changing the mask opacity from 100 to 0. A video explanation is also present at the end of our clip.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw9FAxywDJ8

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A7rQ4svbkE


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s