The long awaited music video for “Tornado” by Tiësto and Steve Aoki. The death riders – Michael Trevino from Vampire Diaries, Omar Doom also known for being one of the Bastards from Inglorious Bastards, Tiernan Cowling as T-Clone and Aoki all ride towards an electric tornado on Planet Tiësto.
In lesser words, Steve wanted another crazy ass video after what we did for Earthquakey people, Tony at the office thought it would be rad to make a death race in Cinema 4d based off the 80s arcade game tempest, and our team took the 3d billy goat by the horns and ran with it animation wise.
Essentially we wrote out a rough story in our treatment, got coverage of the different actors on a green screen shoot, and made Tonys dream of beating the shit out of kids for their bubblegum money in the 80s one wireframe explosion at a time a very true reality under the guise of Steve aoki racing in space. To complicate it slightly, the song is a duo with DJ Tiesto who couldnt make our shoot, but worry not. We simply modeled a 3d version of his head and exploded it. That seemed to cover all the necessary ‘where is tiesto if its a video about tiesto’ jabber to our liking.
Lets not kid ourselves, 4 minutes of 3d animation is basically impossible to storyboard without modeling the entire narrative from scratch anyway, especially for how challenging music video budgets could be, this being no exception. What we did do however was create some style frames as a gauge for the team what the final look would be for some semblance of making this crazy idea cohesive.
With the exception of Omar Doom and Michael Trevino, we werent exactly working with the Deniro’s of acting to emotionally bring our space race to life, but we also didnt write the treatment to be much more than them racing around blowing shit up either. On a small cozy stage near the burbank airport however, we built a fake racing seat with an Atari like video game steering wheel attached to a black spray painted apple box, and filmed each racer pretending to jet thru cities, canyons, meteors and space. We then put this into an edit to the song with some rough call outs of different sections to see just how screwed we were gonna be in animation.
We had to build a ton of 3d for this video. Meteor showers, tornados made of meteors, canyons, cities, the race vehicles themselves, basically every visual was a model of some sort. Using sketch and toon in cinema 4d however, we could render out the wireframe look that proved pretty close to the original Tempest video game reference. What also helped is since we were applying a wireframe look the polygons didnt need to be that detailed nor smooth. Also parenting the cameras to the race pods allowed for us to not have to track in the green screen footage of the racers in the vehicles themselves saving us quite a bit of time. We admit it, we are animation cheaters, but everywhere we can save time to put time towards making everything blow up, all the better we say!!!!!
Models built, style frames locked, narrative signed off on, we basically brought all this together in cinema 4d in the form of wireframe animations timed to the edit. Each artist on the project (about 6 in total) were assigned a section. Knowing the rough theme of that section, they basically created a spaceship inspired narrative to bridge that section together, and seamlessly set up both the section before and after. To save ourselves a headache with versioning, we also discovered Xrefs in cinema4d which basically are a single file, in this case for the vehicles that all the other scenes reference. Why this is so amazing in the most epically nerdy way imaginable you might ask? well, if we update the models, we dont have to re import them into every scene file, they simply update. This goes for polygon changes, color, shape, even scale. With a team of 6 and such intricate setups per section, this basically made the project possible (beyond our handy render farm of course).
Below is a rough assemble where you can see a lot of that coming together. Where we usually do a ton of work in after effects for compositing, we left mostly color, texture and glows for the composite, but really did most of our heavy lifting in 3d.