Smoke & Mirrors Colors MTV VMA Campaign

The famous MTV VMAs are just a few weeks away, a fact that will be a secret to no one thanks to a vibrant five-spot campaign color-graded by Smoke & Mirrors Colorist Ben Eagleton. Working direct-to-client with MTV, Eagleton expertly colored the challenging campaign, which mimics the look of various past eras with a funky mix of black-and-white, full color, and mixed footage. The campaign stars VMA nominees, presenters and performers: Nicki Minaj, Drake, Ke$ha, Eminem and Justin Bieber.

"Recreating the past is no easy task," noted Eagleton. "Especially in such a short piece, so every detail takes on extra importance, from the set to the camera angles to the editing. But the coloring has a special ability to evoke a certain era, as so much of our film history is marked with distinct shades and hues unique to individual time periods."

The Nicki Minaj :60 stars the Best New Artist nominee and award presenter in an eclectic series of four vignettes. First she is Nicki the child in simple classic black and white. Then she is Nicki the biker, storming a pseudo 1950s rear-projector backdrop in full, undeniable color. Nicki the actress struts in vivid and rich, full-color confidence, while Nicki the singer rolls out in beautiful, deep color with an R&B feel.

Drake, a VMA performer and dual award nominee, relaxes in impossibly cool Frank Sinatra-style 1950s black and white while his crowd waits breathlessly stageside for his appearance - footage shot in color and then graded to be black and white. Eagleton used various filters in the resolve to create an authentic, stunning look for the spot.

Three-award nominee and presenter Ke$ha stars in a delightfully bizarre blend of deep black and white and vivid color, in which she leaps from the window of her gothic-style (and all black-and-white) bedroom and through a kaleidoscopic, colorful abyss of billboards, marquees, and VMAs. Throughout the fall, the neophyte performer maintains her ivory complexion, in stark and wonderful contrast to the grungily luminous world around her.

Eminem - a 2010 VMA performer honored with a whopping eight award nominations - stars in a gritty black-and-white spot, his scarlet jacket the sole color element, a bold symbolic gesture that invigorates the piece with a striking and memorable look.

The precocious VMA performer and nominee Justin Bieber stars in the final spot, a stylish blend of color contrasted with a deep black-and-white world shot on a RED camera. Though stuck in a room from a bygone era, Bieber sings into a flatscreen computer monitor, sending a trio of admiring girls into a swoon on the receiving end. The remainder of the spot features the singer outrunning a phalanx of adoring fans who ambush him as he exits one of his sold-out concerts.

The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards will be broadcast live from Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 12, at 9 p.m. EDT on MTV.


Client: MTV
Spots Title(s): Justin Bieber Promo (featured), Drake Promo (featured), Ke$ha Promo (featured), Eminem Promo, Nicki Promo
Air Date: September 2010

Prod Company: MTV
Director: Jahai Brightly
EP: Amy Campbell
Producer: Kris Walter

Editorial Co: Final Cut
Editor: JD Smyth
Producer: Rana Martin

Grading: Smoke & Mirrors NY
Colorist: Ben Eagleton
Producer: Barbara Kontarovich

About Smoke and Mirrors:

Founded by Creative Director/VFX Artist Sean Broughton (NY) and CTO Mark Widig (UK), Smoke & Mirrors is a New York and London-based design, animation and VFX studio. The recent addition of a powerful grading suite delivers complete solutions for any type of project. A creative and artist-driven company synonymous with vision and originality since its inception, Smoke & Mirrors has consistently succeeded because of its collaborative approach and ability to build lasting creative relationships with directors, producers, agencies and clients alike.

Production in the New York office is led by CCO Sean Broughton, MD Jo Morgan, and Head of Production Sue Romweber. Diverse projects includes the highly challenging Beatles spot for Rockband, as well as spots for LG, Jose Cuervo, and Dove. Recent music video work includes Deadweather's Treat Me Like Your Mother and Michael Jackson's This Is It. Smoke & Mirrors has also been involved with such feature films as James Bond and Harry Potter. Each office is fully networked via complementary systems allowing the companies to share resources, expanding their local capacities. Close involvement with hardware and software manufacturers and developers has kept Smoke & Mirrors at the forefront of innovation and technology.