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KromA Nabs VES Award for Spears Toxic

Second major award for growing studio (February 18, 2005)

KromA Nabs VES Award for Britney Spears' Toxic video

KromA Nabs VES Award for Britney Spears' Toxic video

KromA, the visual effects, animation and finishing studio, has won a VES Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Music Video for its work on Britney Spears Toxic. It is the second major award won by KromA in less than 12 months. Last May, it took home a Clio Award for Outstanding Visual Effects for its work on Rear-Ended, a commercial for NASCAR and Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York. The VES Award was accepted by KromAs Bert Yukich, visual effects supervisor, and Amy Yukich, executive producer.

?We are fortunate to work on interesting projects, said Yukich. ?That gives our artists an opportunity to apply their talents and show what they can do. Toxic was an especially challenging assignment, encompassing a wide variety of complex effects and animation, and we had just three weeks to complete it. It is very gratifying to have that work recognized by our peers in this way.

Toxic cast Spears in the role of a femme fatale out to wreak revenge on a cheating ex-boyfriend. Rocketing at roller coaster speed, the video features Spears as a sexy stewardess, a James Bond-esque spy in skin-tight cat-suit and flaming red hair, and a black-maned superhero in flowing cape who murders her ex with a toxic potion.

KromA produced a photo-real 3D replica of Spears for use in some of the videos eye-popping stunt scenes. One such case was the Paris scene where Spears races through the streets on a motorcycle piloted by model Tyson Beckford. At the end of the sequence, when the bike becomes airborne and twists in the air before depositing Spears on a bridge, 3D replacements were used for Spears, Beckford and the motorcycle.

?That entire shot, including the bridge environment is 3D, explained KromA visual effects supervisor and lead compositor Bert Yukich. ?At the end of the shot, when she lands on the bridge, we did a transition from the CG model back to the real Britney. To improve the realism of the model, Yukich cut out Spears red hair from a live action element and tracked it to the model. Animators also employed textures taken from digital stills of Spears and Beckford to accurately reproduce their facial features.

The 3D Spears is also used in the London scenario in a shot where the singer, after scaling the wall of a high rise, flips in the air and lands on the balcony of an apartment. In that instance, artists were challenged to reproduce the translucent cape worn by Spears.

KromA modeled the Paris and London environments after 2D drawings provided by a concept artist. Both scenes include recognizable landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, but were given a futuristic cast through the use of colorful neon signage and other accents. Yukich attended the live action shoot at a Los Angeles stage to gather HDR lighting data for use in integrating Spears and other talent into the artificial environments. KromA also gather HDR data on Los Angeles streets at night and used that to apply naturalistic urban lighting to the 3D street scenes.

Time was perhaps the greatest obstacle faced by the effects team, especially relative to the creation of the videos tunnel sequence?another 3D set. Just five days before the video was due for delivery, that sequence was re-cut obliging animators to redo much of their work in integrating Spears into the artificial environment.

The tunnel sequence climaxes with Spears bursting through a glass wall, slow motion glass fragments exploding in all directions. The shattering glass effect was produced as a 3D particle effect. ?When the sequence was re-cut, we had to rebuild the tunnel, add the laser beams and composite Britney, recalled Yukich. ?We gave that to the animators, who were creating the glass, so that they could get the correct refractions and reflections.

Along with crafting major sequences like Paris and London, KromA was also tasked with generating incidental effects elements for scenes that were largely shot practically. For a shot in the airplane sequence, artists created a 3D rubber mask that Spears tears off a mans face. The live action elements included before and after shots of different actors. ?The two actors had different body types, the first guy was short and stout, the second guy was taller and thinner, recalled Yukich. ?I did a head replacement, putting the second guys head on the first ones torso. It was a little bit of a trick because they were standing differently and the collar of the second man was blocking his neck. I had to add a new neck and adjust his pony tail so that it falls over the collar.

?Once that was done, I handed it on to our 3D team who took the last frame of the before guy and mapped his face onto a model of a rubber mask. We could then bend and distort it to match Britneys hand gestures.

That kind of resourcefulness and hustling was necessary throughout the time-compressed post production. Although the airplane environment was shot with a practical set, KromA animators had to quickly build out a 3D bathroom environment for use in one brief shot where Spears pushes a man through a door. ?We essentially worked round the clock for three weeks, Yukich noted. ?I think we went through $1000 in energy drinks.

About KromA
KromA is located at 9421&1/2 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035. For more information, call 310-282-0370 or visit


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Related Keywords:KromA, VES Award, Visual Effects, Britney Spears, Toxic, Bert Yukich, Amy Yukich, animation, HDR, 3D particle effect,

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