The Mill LA in collaborated with Norwegian musician Cashmere Cat and renowned Director Jake Schreier on the groundbreaking music video ‘Emotions’. The result is an advanced application of real-time technology that pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation and allows for a ‘one take, real-time clip’, that is the first of its kind.
The Mill was initially tasked with crafting an original CG character to represent Cashmere Cat in future music videos and appearances. The design team crafted a creature inspired by multiple references including Nordic folklore, Japanese anime, Fortnite, and early aughts gaming. A music video for the track ‘Emotions’ introduces the fairytale feline and her fantasy world. In order to facilitate this method within a fully-CG environment, The Mill’s artists and technologists executed an ambitious real-time rendered shooting technique.
Jake Schreier( Robot & Frank, Paper Towns) directed the clip. It was Choreographed and performed by Margaret Qualley, with the MoCap & VFX by The Mill LA for production Company Park Pictures NY.
Schreier is known for his highly-choreographed storytelling that takes place within a single take, previously seen in music videos such as Chance the Rapper ‘Same Drugs’, Haim ‘Want You Back’ and numerous Francis and the Lights releases. Schreier also famously directed the incredible one take for Shaina’s sequence in Episode 3 of Michel Gondry’s (executive producer ) show Kidding. In that show, guest star Riki Lindhome plays Shaina, a woman who’s inspired to turn her life around after watching an episode of “Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time,” the kids’ show hosted by Jim Carrey’s character. In one take, viewers see Lindhome’s world evolve as she renovates her apartment, starts exercising, invites friends over and celebrates her new life. Behind the scenes, Schreier directed the “Kidding” crew to physically transformed the set multiple times in real-time.
Cashmere Car was filmed on a motion-capture stage while a state of the art virtual production pipeline delivered a seamless visualisation between the real world and the simulated. A display screen rendering the CG character, landscape, props and structures in real-time. This allowed the director to, in effect, direct the CG character as opposed to the live-action performer, as she moved through the stylized world while being shot with a handheld camera. This allowed the filmmakers to adjust the character actions, the lighting, and even environmental textures, all whilst still on set.
Combining Epic’s game engine UE4 with The Mill’s creative team, designers and artists gave the filmmaking team a fully interactive and immersive film making experience.
Schreier explains, “when Magnus first described what he was looking for to me, he said he “wanted to disappear.” He also was making a record that was very influenced by video games, so the thought of building him a video game avatar seemed fun. We started with older references, but his music isn’t a retro version of video game music at all, so ultimately a more modern approach felt right. Magnus and I had been playing a ton of Fortnite together so when The Mill proposed working in the Unreal Engine, it was a natural fit. It was interesting for me to try and meld some of the principles from the minimalist live performance videos I usually work on, with a more traditionally maximalist, animated world. It’s hard to explain how fun it is to have a camera in your hands that can see live into a virtual space. Also, Margaret gave a great performance worth capturing.”
Aurelien Simon, Executive Producer, Emerging Technology at The Mill in Los Angeles commented, “This reimagined approach to filmmaking still allows for traditional cinematic methods. Using this method, creative partners are able to see iterations, makes changes and experiment all in real-time. In this project; environment, creative, physics, and technology all combine to create a truly immersive experience.”
Ben Lumsden, Business Development Manager, Unreal Engine Enterprise at Epic Games, adds, “It’s great to see The Mill pushing virtual production in this way. Princess Catgirl represents a shift in music video production, and both Jake Schreier and Cashmere Cat have shown fearless creativity for this innovative result.”
Images from the clip and Jake Schreier Instagram.