All Articles
All Articles

Interview: Us


Interview: Us

We speak with the directing duo Us on using 3D motion capture rendering in the Foals' video for "My Number"

by CH Contributor
on 12 February 2013

by Sabine Zetteler


Christoper Barrett and Luke Taylor, more commonly known as Us, are the powerhouse directorial duo behind the latest music video for Foals, released this week by Warner Bros UK. Far from newcomers to video direction—Us directed an award-winning video for Thom Yorke while still attending Kingston University—the two designers take a tired music video idea and bring it up to speed with 3D motion capture renderings for the track "My Number," off the British band's third full length album, Holy Fire.

We recently caught up with the guys for an exclusive interview to find out more about what makes them tick and more specifically, to connect the dots in the lengthy process that was required to make this stunning and epic piece of musical motion capture.

Was your dot-to-dot concept an idea you'd been waiting for the perfect project for?

Luke Taylor: Taking the "My Number" theme of the track quite literally we quickly came up with the dot-to-dot concept, we got very excited by this as we had never seen this executed before. The daunting challenge came when we started to think about how we make the concept sustain for the full four minutes of the track, there is only so long one person can look at a line connecting dots.

Chris Barrett: We wanted to take people places they might not have expected from the first frame.

How long did the video take to create in its entirety?

CB: From start to finish it was about three long months. We wrote our idea back in October. Then we had our motion capture session with the band in late November. We then spent a week creating a pre-edit to work out timings etc. Then we were straight into the VFX/3D stage to create the whole video.

Were you ever intimidated by the scale of the project once it had started?

LT: Yes! Not gonna lie; from the minute we had the idea. It was a hugely ambitious task, but we love to push ourselves, if we are not intimidated by an idea or project it normally means it's not worth doing. What made the whole process so much easier was the amazing team that we had behind us, from our producer Medb Riordan to our production company A+, using The Imaginarium for their motion capture studio (that's Andy "Golem" Serkis' studio), Electric Theatre Collective for their VFX/3D wizardry and Ed Cheeseman for the edit.

What was the most challenging part of creating the band, the cities and the universe in dot-to-dot?

LT: The biggest problem was how could we apply the dot-to-dot concept to a moving image. We knew that standard animation techniques were out of reach. We spoke with Electric Theatre Collective and they said the most sensible way would be to have motion capture of the band. We had been to The Imaginarium for an open day but only really thought motion capture was for Hollywood movies. Once we had all the data from the band we then had to re-create the band members and their instruments in 3D to apply the MoCap data to it, we then converted this into dot-to-dot. The process was massively time-consuming with gargantuan renders, but the guys at ETC really pulled out all the stops. On the other hand creating the city, landscape and universes elements compared to the band was not so complex as we just build them in-house which gave us complete control and manipulation.

Did you work with Foals directly?

CB: We spoke with the band about our idea and worked with them on the day of the motion capture shoot, it was a really interesting as we did not have to worry about lighting, camera moves, lenses—this was all decided in after the fact—it was just all about getting the best performance from the band we could get. It was a refreshing shooting process.

Do you have separate roles in your creative process?

CB: We kind of have the ethos of two heads are better than one. It speeds up the creative process as we can bounce idea off each other instantly.

As a working duo, do you ever feel the need to compromise with projects the other is particularly passionate about?

CB: We tend to only work on projects we feel equally passionate about, this is a sign that we are usually onto a good thing when both of us get excited about a project.

You're always pushing new boundaries with your work, what's next on the horizon?

LT: Yeah we love jumping around from project to project, trying out new techniques and processes. At the moment we are writing a script for our first short film, we dabbled with a bit of narrative and dialogue in our "Feed Me" promo last year and want to explore this more. We are very excited about the year ahead, and pitching on some amazing music tracks at the moment so fingers crossed we get to make another promo very soon.

For more information on Us and their digital design visit Us online.

Images by Christopher Barrett

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms
Loading More...