Traktor directed this title track for the much awaited Bond film – Die Another Day – by arguably the biggest artist in the world, Madonna. The promo was posted at MPC, who also created visual effects for key sequences in the Bond film.
The action-packed promo was shot in LA studios and depicts Madonna going through some Bond-related travails in a torture chamber of ill repute. The prison shots are intercut with a ferocious fencing duel between a good (clad in white) and an evil (clad in black) “M”. (Very apt, as Madonna stars in the film as a fencing instructor). Wounds inflicted on both fencers are mirrored on the imprisoned Madonna, as she desperately tries to outwit her tormentors. She finally tricks the guards with fancy footwork and flees from the electric chair, leaving them bewildered. The promo ends with Madonna escaping down the prison corridor and merging into the iconic Bond gun-barrel graphic.
The key effects in post were invisible effects – in order for Madonna to convincingly fight herself and perform the many stunts. “For various reasons there are effects in almost every shot. It is a testament to the skills of the merry artisans of MPC that you think there are none! As with modern underwear the best effects are always the ones that don’t show through your slacks,” explained Traktor!
Using a range of elements shot against greenscreen and generated in other ways, MPC lead Inferno artist Christophe Allender co-ordinated the effort. Every shot posed its own unique set of challenges.
Traktor didn’t want to compromise the fight action in the promo with too many split screens – as this would have necessitated using locked-off cameras and restricted their creative freedom. Traktor commented, “As usual we felt safe in the knowledge that, with MPC on board, we did not have to lock off the camera or spend too much valuable time on technical passes that we don’t understand. In fact we have grown to love throwing MPC underexposed unfixable celluloid curveballs and then hear no evil until they sort it out anyway! It is tremendously satisfying. If Christophe says something can’t be done, we just leave the suite, lock it and take away his cigarettes until he is forced to solve the shots out of necessity. It never fails!”
Additional effects in post included compositing images of the “M” duellists into shattered glass and combining second passes. Wounds were also created – such as the cut that appears on Madonna’s arm, after the black “M” is slashed on the arm while fencing. Additional “blood” (actually ketchup and Worcester sauce shot in MPC’s rostrum-room!) was also smeared across the wall after “M” is slashed across the stomach. As the duel was shot against green screen, digital stills of a window fill were also composited in to assist with the viewer’s orientation of “M”’s hideout.
In the final frame, with the Bond gun-barrel, the elements were supplied to MPC in 2k and then manipulated and treated by Inferno artist, Ziggy Zigouras to suit Traktor’s brief.
The promo was shot by DP Harry Savides and MPC colourist Jean-Clement Soret did the grade. Traktor had a very precise idea of what they wanted and Soret brought their ideas to life, exploring with different degrees of saturation. They considered grading from the print but decided to go for the negative, as this would provide crisper, cleaner images. “They required 2 very distinct looks,” commented Soret, “one glossy, stylish look that needed to be as bright as possible, while retaining all of the details, for the fencing sequences. The second was a raw, dirtier look for the torture chamber and the electric chair room.” Soret used sharpening tools in the Spirit datacine to enhance details of the shattering glass.
Track: Die Another Day
Post Production Company: The Moving Picture Company
Inferno artists: Christophe Allender, Ziggy Zigouras
François Gilguy, Simon Trafford, Dan Sanders
Fire artists: Oliver Newbould, Marcus Moffatt
3D Animator Richard Nelson
Colourist: Jean-Clement Soret