Click 3X Honors West Side Story For MTV VMAs

Click 3X has just completed a series of promotional spots for the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards that celebrate the show’s return to New York City. The videos pay homage to the theatrical classic musical West Side Story, featuring show host Russell Brand and VMA-nominated musicians performing a recreation of the signature tune Tonight throughout a series of original Manhattan sets.

The spots were produced individually and then edited together as one fully-mixed anthem. Each have a distinct look and feature some of the biggest names in the music business belting out a hope-filled tune in anticipation of the night ahead. Ne-Yo, in classic Michael Jackson-style attire dances his way through a graffiti-laced junkyard. Swanky Katy Perry hustles up an attitude in a rooftop garden.

Glamorous Taylor Swift sings in the rain out of the open window of a taxi. Cobra Starship slams through the Subway in a musical parade while Leighton Meester sings on the steps. And a cane-swinging Russell Brand sings about the awaiting night’s events through the city’s gritty backstreets. Each of the bits uses the network’s iconic spaceman statuettes, a hallmark of the VMAs since their inception.

The various shoots each required different locations, inside and outside, on-stage and off, shot at various times of day. Click 3X worked closely with MTV Director Sevi Peter-Thomas and Producer Kris Walter to create a campaign that maintained an theatrical performance without compromising each artist’s contemporary style. To ensure a successful delivery, the creative and production teams from Click 3X and MTV coordinated so that the live-action and post compositing, 3D, 2D and color correct would be consistent and clear.

Peter-Thomas utilized RED Cameras for all spots. Post Millennium edited the footage and delivered EDLs to Click 3X, who would conform by importing the footage from the Final Cut Pro projects using Crimson, creating 2K DPX sequences. The creative team then began working between two Flames and CGI pulling together a variety of elements. Each scene had a distinct set of needs, ranging from providing atmosphere, creating skyline elements in CGI, lighting changes, and even compositing shots from multiple days. The final composites were brought to a DI process at Company 3 for a final color balance.

“Our team literally had to change the world with each shoot,” noted Click 3X’s Szumski. “Katy Perry’s New York skyline was composited behind her on blue screen. The interior of a Brooklyn studio became a junkyard beneath the Brooklyn Bridge for Ne-Yo’s spot. Using HDRI imagery, we transformed a daytime shot of a downtown Manhattan back alley into Russell Brand’s nighttime jaunt to Radio City Music Hall. Taylor Swift’s stunning Times Square cab ride was shot in a Nashville studio. Each shot had a different set of compositing challenges, but MTV’s director, producer, and DP were all really easy to work with and the shots turned out perfectly.”

MTV tapped Click 3X to assist with the campaign after several successful collaborations earlier in the year, including the See You Sunday promos and packaging, and The Phone and Star Trek promotional campaigns.

“Click 3X is uniquely positioned to work on this campaign both because of our existing relationship with the pros at MTV and the unique technical and creative skill set that we bring,” stated Click 3X Executive Producer Connor Swegle. “Mark’s technical expertise enables him to work closely with the live-action team to tackle the unique challenges of throughout pre-production and on set, while his creative abilities are hands on with clients and the internal team to guide the post process. Anthony Filipakis, our head of CGI, really nailed the spots’ photo-real 3D needs, even creating an original Radio City Music Hall element to drop into a downtown alleyway, and John Budion was able to take his understanding of the creative needs from supervising on set in Nashville and bring that to his creative process on Flame.”

“This was a really high-profile project – one of the main efforts on MTV’s calendar, and we were really pleased that they selected us for the challenge,” said Click 3X President Peter Corbett. “The logistics of coordinating the talent over multiple shoot dates and locations required close collaboration with MTV’s team. Our team did a great job bringing some of the most talented musicians on the scene today together to create a memorable campaign that will not only drive interest in the network’s annual award show, but also managed to honor the legacy and image of West Side Story, one of America’s most iconic brands.”

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 at 9 p.m. EDT on MTV. Taylor Swift will perform live, while Ne-Yo, Katy Perry and Leighton Meester will present awards. The artists’ VMA nominations include:

Ne-Yo – Best Male Video; Miss Independent
Katy Perry – Best Female Video; Hot N Cold
Taylor Swift – Best Female Video; You Belong with Me
Cobra Starship (featuring Leighton Meester) – Best Pop Video, Best Direction in Video; Good Girls Go Bad.

About Click 3X
New York-based Click 3X produces cutting-edge visual solutions for commercials, feature films, television, music videos, and broadcast clients around the globe. Founded in 1993, Click 3X has become one of the preeminent providers of innovative media content, housed in an environment led by artists, yet supported by one of the most technologically advanced digital studios in the industry. With award-winning design, powerful visual effects, and a visionary animation team, Click 3X has worked on array of diverse highly-recognizable projects, including a series of films from academy-award winning directors like Jonathan Demme and Davis Guggenheim, a recent multimedia package for eight HD Time Warner spots, My Home 2.0, a five episode reality TV series for Verizon Fios, and a long line of recent commercials for major brands such as Sharp, Ford, and Goodyear.

Client: MTV
Spot Title: VMA Promos
Air Date: August 2009

Agency: MTV
Director: Seyi Peter-Thomas
Producer: Kris Walter

Post/Effects: Click 3X
Creative Director: Mark Szumski
Head of Production: Jared Yeater
Director of CGI: Anthony Filipakis
Managing Director, Broadcast: David Edelstein
Executive Producer: Connor Swegle
VFX Supervision/Lead Flame Artist(s): Mark Szumski, John Budion
Flame Artist: John Ciampa
Flame Artist: Johnny Starace
Online Editor: JD Yepes
CG Animator/Lighter: Grace Hwang
CG Animator: Jong Moon Woo
CG Animator: Kristen Pederson
CG Modeler: Paul Liaw
After Effects Artist: Tom Matheu
Junior Flame Artist: Salvatore Randazzo
Junior Flame Artist: JD Yepes
Shake Roto: Sophia Avgousti
Producer(s): Rob Meyers, Jared Yeater

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