Let’s go behind-the-scenes of popular music videos to see how they pulled off their impressive VFX.

Above image from Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood‘ music video.

You don’t really think about visual effects too much when you think of music videos, but today many of these projects are utilizing VFX with impressive results. This got us thinking…

In this post we’ve rounded up the best music video VFX breakdowns we could find. Now let’s see what we can learn from them!

1. Layers, Layers, Layers.

As with any VFX shot you’re going to have layers upon layers of assets on screen. This was probably never more apparent than in the music video True Survivor from Kung Fury. In this video breakdown, we can get a glimpse as how VFX house Fido composited multiple layers of assets to put David Hasselhoff right in the middle of Kung Fury’s world.

2. You Can Literally Build Your Sets Out of Nothing

In the following music video breakdown we watch as VFX artist Jan Sladeck creates a fully digital set for the dancers of Ben Cristovao‘s music video for Bomby. Again, were working with multiple layers of assets, but in this video Jan is building the set completely around plates shot on real locations. Once he places the assets within 3D space and drops the dancers in he can animate to his heart’s content.

3. Are You Trackin’ With This?

Next up is the breakdown from Beat Assailant‘s music video RunIn this video we learn the importance of tracking information in framing. In the video you’ll see that they are using a light stand with colored gaff tape to make tracking more simple.

4. Utilize 3D Elements

As we’ve seen not every element in each music video has to be real and practical. In fact in Kat Krazy‘s music video for Siren, which features ELKKA, we see how visual effects artist Chris Staehler was able to take a 3D plane model and form a story around it. Chris actually used one of my favorite resources, Turbosquid (a 3D Model Resource Site for Professionals), to acquire the model of the plane featured in the video. He then used a blending of green screen shots, cloud elements and color grading to finish the video out.

5. Action Elements – Everywhere!

Now, were going to move into the big budget music video territory, pop music. If you’re not a fan of Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, I completely understand, but I’ve got to tell you there are some slick artists working on these videos. For example, in Taylor Swift‘s music video for Bad Bloodwe see toward the tail end of the breakdown that Ingenuity Studios used quite a bit of action elements that they filmed in empty lots and on sound stages. They then were able to take these elements and layer them over the shot material to give us a behemoth music video spectacle.

(Bonus) An Extra One of the Road

The post says five things, but we couldn’t help but throw this one in. Get comfortable because this video is nearly 30 mins long, but is well worth the view, especially if you’re interested in VFX as a career. We see it all here, from green screen and practical effects to 3D post processing and rigging, this behind the scenes of Katy Perry‘s Wide Awake is a great way to see what all goes into a big budget music video. Warning: this video features a lot of Katy Perry!

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What did you think about these music video VFX breakdowns? Did you learn anything from them? Sound off in the comments below.