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A52's High-Tech Artifacts Effect New R.E.M. Aftermath Video

Los Angeles visual effects and design company A52 today announced details of their visual effects work for Bob Industries and director Peter Care for R.E.M.'s new music video for "Aftermath." The second release from their new album "Around the Sun" released in early Oct., the new music video debuted in the U.K. on Nov. 4.

"The main idea was to have Michael, Mike and Peter walk through London, with Michael lip-syncing the song as he walks," explained Care, who is renowned for pioneering innovative creative approaches in his work, having often employed experimental techniques throughout an illustrious career which has already earned him the Clio, Bronze Palm d'Or and MTV Video Awards, among many others. "Because R.E.M. are on tour in the USA, we decided to use composites of the band shot against a green screen with views of London as back-plates," Care continued.

Care then explained that the song's theme of Ascension is illustrated using views of many other cities shot from ascending glass elevators, with the horizontal journey covering the verses and the vertical journey occurring within the choruses. Interestingly, the cityscape footage taken from glass elevators was shot by some 26 freelance videographers in cities throughout the world using mini-DV camcorders.  "We felt that shooting on DV was highly appropriate," Care said of the approach.  "We wanted the video to feel unforced, effortless, fun.  This also made it easier for people in other countries to shoot from elevators."

To compile the piece, editor Angus Wall of Rock Paper Scissors first began selecting shots of the band, matching them to the background plates of London and then sorting through hours and hours of elevator shots to select key moments.

As the editorial process proceeded, Care and Wall turned to A52 visual effects artist Westley Sarokin to help implement another technical idea into their creative palette.  As Care explained, that idea was, "to make some parts of the video look like they're breaking up - as if the 'live television feed' was being intermittently disrupted."

While A52 is renowned for its seamless compositing and effects, in this case, the goal was a finished piece where the compositing and effects were obvious.  For example, all efforts to smooth the compositing of band members into background footage were intentionally avoided.  To that end, Wall handled all the green-screen compositing himself in his Avid Adrenaline system.  However, to incorporate the additional looks Care desired into the finished project, Sarokin worked with both director and editor to develop several unique effects in Discreet Flame.  "Many hours of effort were wasted because of the experimental aspect to the work," Care said, "but Westley never lost his sense of commitment as an artist and collaborator."

"As the edit evolved," Sarokin said, "Angus would send me the latest version, then I would run it through all these different looks I'd set up, then he'd take it back and start cutting in the pieces with the various looks."

Among the results of Sarokin's experimentations were a satellite-breakup effect, random mosaic color swathes and monochrome and saturated color treatments.  The satellite- breakup effect - where certain sections of the picture stutter and break-up - involved several different proprietary techniques aimed at generating interesting digital artifacts while still maintaining composition and form.  To generate the mosaic graphic objects, Sarokin used a simple mathematical expression in Flame that randomized the blocks' colors and their placements in space and time throughout the video."

When all was said and done, Care added, "Having Angus cutting while Westley worked in parallel with us was a perfect way to create this groundbreaking video."

Devin Sarno is the project's video producer for Warner Brothers Records.

A52's project team also included executive producer Mark Tobin and producer Hannah Yates.

Directed by Peter Care, the production was overseen by Bob Industries' executive producer T.K. Knowles.  Salvatore Totino served as director of photography for the green-screen shoot in Los Angeles, and the London crew consisted of videographers Debbie Anzolone,  Max Barron and Florian Schura.

Additional editorial credits for the team at Rock Paper Scissors include executive producer Tatiana Vasquez, producer Scott Friske and assistant editors Jim Rodney and Brad Waskewich.

About A52

Established in 1997 as a home for the very latest high-end photo-real visual effects technologies and the industry's most innovative and talented graphic design artists, West Hollywood visual effects and design company A52 creates award-winning imagery for the world's most visually ambitious commercial and television projects.  The company's work has earned AICP Show recognition for five consecutive years along with recent Outstanding Commercial and Outstanding Main Title Design Emmys, Andy, BDA, Clio, British Design and Art Direction, International Monitor, International Automotive Advertising, London International Advertising, One Show and PROMAX awards.  For more information, please call Mark Tobin at 310.385.0851 or visit

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