EMI Records recently tapped Company X to produce a promotional music video for RE: GENERATIONS, a remix album featuring modern interpretations of jazz legend Nat King Cole’s indelible work, which released on March 10th.
Performing alongside Cole’s virtual croon, the album features a diverse cast of artists including daughter Natalie Cole, will.i.am, Bebel Gilberto, Stephen and Damien Marley, The Roots, and TV on the Radio, among others. Company X and its production arm, Detox, directed, edited and animated the video, which includes 2D stop-motion, 3D and After Effects. The end result is a multimedia scrapbook that serves as a visual embodiment of the album’s mashed-up tracks, as well as a conceptual homage to Cole’s boundless influence on modern music including hip hop, Latin, reggae, and rock.
“Barney [Miller] and Terence [Ziegler] did a fantastic job with the teaser,” says Al Risi, Owner/Founder of music strategy company ARMM and executive producer of the “Lush Life” video. “What they were able to accomplish with the little assets they were provided, and within the fast turnaround time! [Daughter] Carole Cole was so thrilled with their work. She felt they really captured the great things about her dad through their storytelling.”
Set to a remix of Cole’s “Lush Life,” produced by Cee-Lo (member of Gnarls Barkley), the video embarks on an array of contrastive animated portraits of Cole, inspired by classic album cover artwork, and evoking the heart and soul of the venerable jazz singer’s craft and guise. Behind the album’s core mission to bridge cultures and generations of music, we soar through galactic collages juxtaposing classic Cole with the likes of modern graffiti art and hip-hop culture. The video fittingly concludes with a visual outtro, further suggesting the transcendental nature of Cole’s music as a collage of black and white photos of the artist timelessly moves through space.
“I felt the lyrics to ‘Lush Life’ could have a double meaning,” explains Barney Miller, Owner/Editor of Company X, who also co-directed the video. “It’s speaking about either a life of elegance or of alcohol-driven despair. So we wrote a loose storyline that examined both scenarios, and integrated it by animating Nat’s photographs. The video brings you into Nat’s world – a singer’s life on the road and in bars.”
Terence Ziegler, who co-directed with Miller, also handled the 3D animation and After Effects, creating around-the-world iconic imageries, as well as graphic transitions. The 2D stop-motion animation was executed by Jon Sajetowski and additional After Effects for the bar scenes were done by Brian Kubovcik. The creative process was spontaneous yet efficient with Miller and Ziegler shooting and rendering footage at the same. The team finished the entire animated video in two weeks.
“We came up with many of our ideas on the fly, marrying the type treatment, graphics and sequences together,” continues Miller. “Some of our transitions were done in editorial. There is a red line throughout the piece, which serves as a unifying graphic element, and also represents the journey that Nat takes in life. We had an idea, a track and rhythm; it was a different way of working. We were able to work more intuitively using our graphics as footage.”
“We see this as a model of how to get things done,” concludes Ziegler. “We have more creative control on our end and can meet faster turnarounds. EMI asked us to do something cool for the piece, giving us some record artwork and old photos of Nat. We were allowed to play around and do anything we wanted. We used all of the creative tools at our disposal and we ran with it.”
“Lush Life” is currently available for viewing on YouTube and various online sites.
Client: EMI Records
“Lush Life” by Nat King Cole
Remix produced by Cee-Lo
Production, Editorial & Animation Company: Detox & Company X
Director: Barney Miller & Terence Ziegler
Editor: Barney Miller
Animation: Terence Ziegler & Brian Kubovcik