feat. Chance The Rapper & PnB Rock
Ed Sheeran has launched a showstopping new music video for his track ‘Cross Me’, featuring Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock. Riff Raff, director Ryan Staake, and The Moving Picture Company [MPC] worked in close collaboration to weave together the real world and game-like fantasy.
Inspired by the song’s lyrics, the music video is a mind-bending look into the relationship between illusion and reality. ‘Cross Me’ begins with a dancer wearing a motion-tracking suit in a studio. As she performs her powerful yet elegant routine, she morphs and glitches through a plethora of avatars including Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper. The animated characters are transposed into a variety of worlds and textures, including monolithic golden dancers, abstract shapes, a baseball field, and even rendered in 8bit for a kung-fu fighter game. But when she leaves the studio and returns to reality, plugging off isn’t so simple…
Riff Raff Director Ryan Staake comments: “MPC have been involved since day one on the collaborative process; I started with a loose prompt and worked with them to ideate on shot and character ideas. The aim was to bring together the austere, clean motion-capture environment with the visually rich CG worlds – whilst maintaining connection with the performer throughout. Ideally, you would have double the amount of time to complete the post production on a project like this, so this close dialogue has been critical. MPC proposed a lot of smart tools and methods to work more quickly and efficiently, whilst still yielding the same level of quality we wanted. For example, we were using gaming tools like Unreal to generate procedural worlds very quickly. We used iPhones for some of the facial motion capture methods that allowed us to work quickly as opposed to using facial tracking dots. MPC have been incredible in this sense and it’s been a great process.”
Alongside the launch of the promo, MPC have unveiled an exclusive film demonstrating the intricate creative process behind bringing the music video to life. Working in a creative partner capacity, MPC worked with the director to shape the distinctive look of the numerous different scenes, which required extensive technical capability.
Dominic Alderson, CG Lead at MPC comments: “It’s not often we get a project like this where the behind-the-scenes of motion capture is showcased so prominently in the final creative product - in that sense, this was a brilliant opportunity to show people how we make so much of what we do. Ryan had ambitious intentions for the finished project and being able to help input from the storyboard process allowed us to make them possible in the time frame. We are lucky to have so many technically advanced resources at our fingertips here which means we can focus on drawing out the most spectacular visual fantasy.”
Head of Production at MPC, Luke Rafferty, comments: “We were tasked with going from nothing to the finished edit in 3.5 weeks without any pre-production time - which is unfathomable for a project of this scale and this creative ambition. We pulled on every tool in our armory and used groundbreaking and bespoke technology to meet this otherwise unachievable timeline. Without the incredible talent, technical ability and scale of MPC, it would have been impossible to pull off something so bold in such a short space of time. The edit showcases why MPC is the leader in creative and technical VFX, pushing boundaries of what is possible and leaving footprints in the sand for the rest of the VFX industry to follow.”
Florian Mounie, Kubisi Younis, Silvia Bartoli, Amy Smith, Andrius Jurkevicius, Fabrizio Ghiso, Mithun Alex, Malachi Duncan, Christian Bohm, Lewis Orton, Radu Ciubotariu, Michael Bonnington, William Laban, Anthony Bloor, Prashanth Paramasivam, Greg McKneally, Jessie Amadio, Alessandro Granella, Eleonora D'onofrio, Matilde Nygaard Vinther, Daphne Westelynck, Donal O'Keeffe, Ingrid Tsy, Kerim Camdzic, Michael Drayton, Amar Chundavadra, Maximilian Mallmann
Bangalore VFX Team
Kishan Chandran, Konduru Achiraju, Sathya Narayanan, Suhas N
Koustav Bhowmik, Selva Kumar K, Sunil Manohar Mohapatra
Arulanandhan P, Shoaibh Ahmed
Sumit Kumar, Amlan Mahapatra, Milan Dey