Skulley Effects was behind the frozen moment work in ‘Hesitate’, a music video for Stone Sour that caught our eye. We talk to senior visual effects artist and Skulley owner Culley Bunker.

Watch Stone Sour’s ‘Hesitate’

Co-directed by P.R Brown and The Beta Movement and Skulley Effects, ‘Hesitate’ features Stone Sour’s performance amongst frozen waves of fire and other frozen neighborhood scenes. “We had to come up with a technique that we could implement easily, shoot quickly and still look good,” recalls Bunker. The scenes were storyboarded and then the video filmed in one day with two RED cameras, one for effects and one shooting the band’s performance. A team of between 12 to 15 artists, led by CG supervisor Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, then worked on the effects over three months.

“It came together using a combination of tools from After Effects, Combustion, SynthEyes, Maya and Flame.”

Culley Bunker
Skulley owner

The opening shot shows a house ablaze, with emergency personnel and onlookers appearing still outside, before the camera goes inside to see Stone Sour’s lead singer performing before a still inferno. The outside environment was a Steadicam move shot on RED at 96 frames per second, with everybody holding as still as possible. “We set-dressed the location a little with wires to give the illusion of things blown by wind,” says Bunker. “The girl’s dress actually moved slightly so we had to freeze that and a few other things that moved.”

The move was 3D tracked in SynthEyes, with fire elements and embers added in compositing. The fire emanating from the house was realized as a simulation in FumeFX that was frozen and then augmented with various passes and pieces for the scene. Artists then used photogrammetry techniques as the shot passes through the window to the scene of the singer, who was filmed on greenscreen, holding out his hand. This shot, and others in the music video, came together using a combination of tools from After Effects, Combustion, SynthEyes, Maya and Flame.

Another frozen moment shot was tackled by Tsuyoshi Kobayashi, in which the camera passes a couple celebrating with champagne and enters the lens of a camera, also began with a Steadicam move that was tracked in 3D. A water simulation for the champagne was done, then frozen, and tracked to bottle. “Towards the end of the shot as it goes into the camera, we roto’d that out and then there’s a photogrammetry move,” says Bunker. “We took stills of the camera and switched them out as we get closer to it. Confetti in the shot is real confetti in the air with a frozen moment. Actually, if you look really closely, the guy’s hand is wobbling just a little bit, but we made the foam a little bigger to hide that.”

Kobayashi came up with the idea for a ‘cheap man’s motion control’ for other shots of characters in motion but shown still. “We used one axis – left/right, up/down and then would shoot high speed,” he says. “Being at high speed means we could take all those frames and line them up and time warp them together.”

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