I met Adrien back in 2008 when I lived in Los Angeles. During that time we worked on a few songs together but lost touch over the years. We reconnected a couple of years ago and early this year he tapped me to create some animated 3D music videos for his new project. I wanted to combine different elements such as 3D, AI generated images, and stock footage to help tell the story and convey the message he was telling in the music.
“City 2 Save” is the lead single from the project. Initially, the ask was for a “visualizer” but as it was being built out, a story began to emerge and I felt that it would have been an injustice to the song to not fully explore it.
Living in a city, you experience all sorts of people, places and things. I wanted that to come across in the video, so I opted to use different art styles and lighting to create that feeling. A city can feel chaotic at times, so I used different frame rates and fast cuts to bring that feeling to life.
Throughout the video, the character is being “transported” to different events happening
throughout the city.
throughout the city.
The scenarios we landed on were a corrupt mayor, a city on fire, a shoot out, police brutality, a robbery and a body lying in the street.
As the character moves throughout the city, a crowd is following him. Sometimes the crowd is watching what is happening but not intervening, other times they are ignoring what is going on all together. I wanted to show what it feels like when these terrible things happen and the indifference much of society tends to show towards them.
The turnaround time was about 15 days, so that dictated what tools I would use. I decided to try my hand at implementing some AI generated content into the workflow.
I decided on different colors schemes and art styles and began generating images of city skylines and city streets within those parameters using Adobe Firefly and Bing Image Creator.
I generated about 120 images, and then took them into Photoshop to expand them using generative fill. I wasn’t too worried if the fill didn’t work perfectly, or if there were some odd images generations within them since they were going to be used in fast cuts and it helped to add to the feeling of chaos.
Once my images were created, I then used iClone 8 to build out my animations. I started with motions from Mixamo or within iClone, then edited them and built out each scene in Blender.
Once in Blender, I imported an image as a plane, made it my background and then set up my lighting. I made sure the background image was plugged into my emission channel so that it would throw light into the scene, and then used a few more lights to finish out my lighting set up.
Next I animated the background to move in different directions on a loop.
Once everything was set up, I changed my lighting to match the color of each background then started rendering. Since I was rendering in Cycles, I wanted to keep the scenes as light as possible so they would render quickly. I landed on 1920 x 1080 at 100 samples with denoising. Each frame took about 10 seconds to render.
Next was the tedious part of rendering out each cut. Here I rendered out segments of 12 frames, but at a step of 2, for a total of 6 frames per segment. I then changed the background and the lighting and rendered the next 12 frames up to about 250 frames (~10 seconds at 24 FPS).
Once each sequence was rendered out, I used FlowFrame to interpolate and fill in the frames I skipped in Blender. This process was repeated for every scene in the video.
As each section was rendered, I would then take it into After Effects and start laying everything out. As mentioned earlier, I wanted the chaotic feel of a city, so I used the Posterize Time effect to give it a stop motion feel, but played with different frame rates for different scenes.
That was pretty much it, render, bring it into AE and then edit it all together into a story. I also used additional footage and assets from Envato Elements, such as the time lapse of streets at night and some of the hand drawn elements. The intro drone scene was done in Unreal Engine using the Matrix city demo.
Thanks for watching. You can find me on IG @nobodyfamous or visit ReggiePerryJr.com