The new Mary J. Blige video Just Fine is a visual tour de force as the Grammy-winning singer performs the song accompanied by curly-cue beams of light, shattering mirrors and CG doves.
The elegantly crafted visual effects are the work of the Los Angeles digital studio KromA, which teamed with director Chris Applebaum on the project – the same combination responsible for the widely acclaimed Rihanna video Umbrella.
The video presents Blige in differing outfits and set against a variety of artsy backdrops. In the opening scene, she dances in front of a stylized sunset background while appearing to cast off twisting beams of iridescent light.
‘It was hand-animated with 2D-like paint strokes,’ explained KromA Visual Effects Supervisor Bert Yukich. ‘Effects were applied on top of that to give it that streaky light look.’
The sequence ends with a reverse explosion as the following scene set inside a hall of mirrors builds itself almost instantly out of thousands of shards of glass.
The mirror hall scene itself was previsualized in 3D by KromA so that Applebaum could ‘choreograph’ the infinite reflections that appear in the glass and place the camera where it wouldn’st be seen.
‘We built a complete replica of the set in 3D,’ Yukich explained. ‘In post, we rotoscoped out Mary and the edges of the mirrors so that the shots look clean and seamless.’
Arguably the most beautiful scene in the video appears near the end. Blige, wearing a simple white dress, performs in a black limbo environment as doves streak around her leaving wispy white vapor trails. The birds are CG and the vapor trails are more hand-crafted animation from Yukich and his KromA team.
‘It has a smoky texture and she can put her hand “through” a new technique that we came up with,’ Yukich observed. ‘The trails were accomplished with hand-animated vector paint. It is a unique combination of 2D and 3D animation.’
Just Fine, from Blige upcoming album Growing Pains on Geffen, debuted on BET, MTV, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, VH1 and VH1 Soul.