Five sky-sailors discover a crystal meteor containing a lost mythical female creature. An epic journey through fantastical worlds ensues as the sailors struggle to return her to her people.
Our process always begins with us listening to the song over and over, and letting ideas pop into our heads. Little Talks gave us a lot of ideas. We envisioned a mythical fable, set in an Iceland-inspired fantastical world. We thought it would be interesting to build the story around the six members of the band, so we cast the guys (Ragnar, Árni, Kristján, Arnar and Brynjar) as the five sky-sailors and Nanna as the magical being.
We decided to film only the heads of our actors, which we would then attach to animated bodies in post production. We designed an elaborate headdress and makeup for Nanna, as well as Papua New Guinean inspired makeup for the guys. Nanna’s headdress was a lot of fun to design. We used a custom wig as a base, and added coloured feathers, Halloween props, vintage jewellery, seaweed and Icelandic horse hair.
Our friend and Icelandic production manager Kristín Þórðardóttir took us on a three day tour across Iceland where we shot stills and video of the diverse landscape. It was a fantastic trip, and we found the geography incredibly inspiring. From gigantic half-frozen waterfalls, to towering mountains and volcanoes, to geysers and glaciers all set against overcast snowy skies, it truly felt like a different world. While we drove through the black and white landscape, Kristín shared stories with us about Icelandic mythology and the Huldufólk (hidden folk). Iceland is absolutely fascinating, truly a magical place.
Foolishly, one day we took a trip without Kristín. We drove straight into a ferocious blizzard, and got completely stuck on a far flung country road. This could have ended in disaster if not for the incredibly helpful Icelandic people, in particular: Hafsteinn, P'etur, and Stef'an. These heros towed us out of a massive snow drift, and got us safely to the highway.
Our next step was to shoot the live action sequences, and 380 Studios was the perfect place. Purpose-built for green screen work, they had all the kit we could ever want. Director of Photography Hákon Sverrisson expertly helmed the RED One, and our small cast and crew stoically marched through what turned out to be an epic shoot. Our hats go off to the whole crew. Makeup and Hair artists Ísak Helgason and Oddvar Hjartarson re-imagined the guys makeup, giving them all stellar show-stopping looks. Some of the band members had never acted before, and they all performed amazingly.
Post production was cooked up using a mix of After Effects, Photoshop, Cinema4D and Maya. Our visit to Iceland really inspired how we designed our world. As our visual base, we used the still photography and video we shot in Iceland. We then ramped up the fantastical scenes by creating statues, monoliths and ancient ruins using digital matte-painting techniques. After Effects made it easy to stabilize the live action heads of our actors so that we could attach them seamlessly to their animated bodies. We then used the excellent Duik tools to build inverse kinematic rigs for the characters. The monsters were created using a combination of digital matte painting and 3D hair that we rendered in Cinema4D.
Overall, this project was a blast. We met and worked with a lot of great people, learned a lot, and got a sense of how awesomely amazing Iceland and the Icelandic people are. And last but definitely not least, a massive thanks to Of Monsters and Men for choosing us to create their first official video!