United Nations Turns to Nice Shoes for World Humanitarian Day

August 19th was World Humanitarian Day, a day of commemoration instituted by the United Nations in 2003 that encourages people everywhere to help one another. In 2012, the United Nations partnered with Beyoncé for a campaign, I Was Here, to raise awareness about the day.

To engage people in the campaign, the United Nations enlisted Droga5 and Ridley Scott & Associates to design a unique event in the UN General Assembly Hall where humanitarian aid workers and UN officials shared stories of their important work with an audience of more than 1,200 people. The evening culminated in a performance by Beyoncé of her song, “I Was Here,” featuring the iridescent icon before an amphitheater-sized screen. Beyoncé and Diane Warren, who wrote the song, donated the music video of that performance to the World Humanitarian Day campaign.

Nice Shoes, who has worked extensively with Beyoncé’s production company Parkwood Entertainment, stepped in to handle the color grading and VFX on the video. Nice Shoes colorist Lenny Mastrandrea and VFX artists Jason Farber and Kevan Lee executed the project, closely collaborating with Directors Kenzo Digital and Sophie Muller, as well as the creative teams from Droga5 and Parkwood.

“Our team’s experience and ability to work quickly and jointly in visual effects and color grading really worked to our advantage with the tight turnaround,” explained Nice Shoes Producer Jen Cadic.

The VFX crew had over 30 shots to focus on, but also had a small but unique challenge. “There were a few shots where there was a small gap between the bottom of the screens and the stage, so we were able to stretch the background screens down in the Flame,” added VFX artist Jason Farber. Colorist Lenny Mastrandrea worked to marry the looks of Alexa and Sony F3 footage. “The Alexa and F3 capture fine detail quite differently, so we took considerable pains to seamlessly marry the two looks,” noted Mastrandrea. “This synthesis was an enormous concern for all involved, and I think we nailed it.”

As the goodwill embodied by World Humanitarian Day was intended to be the campaign’s centerpiece, the studio paid special attention to making the heroic and tragic projections behind Beyoncé appear dense enough to be recognizable. “We had special instructions not to make this a glamour piece,” stated Mastrandrea, who has worked with Kenzo for many years. “This music video was about the special message of empathy and aid for our fellow man.”




Client: United Nations
Campaign World Humanitarian Day 2012
Title: I Was Here
Launch Date: August 2, 2012

Agency: Droga5 Sydney, New York
Creative Chairmen: David Droga (NY), David Nobay (Syd)
Ceo: Andrew Essex (NY), Sudeep Gohil (Syd)
Executive Creative Directors: Duncan Marshall (Syd), Nik Studzinski (NY)
Creative Director: Andy Fergusson (Syd)
Head Of Integrated Production: Sally-Ann Dale (NY)
Senior Producer: Sara Flood (NY)
Production Assistant: Robert Ohman (NY)
Executive Planning Director: Justin Graham (Syd)
Planner: Matt Langler (Syd)
Partnership Strategist: Keith Rodger (Syd)
Group Business Director: Naren Sanghrajka (Syd)
Account Director: Lucy Crook (Syd)
Business Manager: Kristie Dagg (Syd)
Communications Director: Maura Mcgreevy (NY)

Client: United Nations
Under-Secretary General Of Humanitarian Affairs: Valerie Amos
Head, Film And Special Projects: David Ohana
Producers, Film And Special Projects: David Gough, Nicole Lawrence
Chief, Comms And Info Services Branch: Marie Okabe
Chief Of Comms Services Section: Derk Segaar

Production: RSA
Directors: Kenzo Digital, Sophie Muller
DoP: Paul Laufer
Executive Producer: Tracie Norfleet
Producer: Scott Robinson
Event Projection: SuperUber
Event Staging: Show Cobra
Animation: Dirt Empire
Creative Director: Nicholas Rubin
Design: Designed Memory
Creative Director: Matthew Daniel Siskin
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: JD Smyth
Producer: Lauren Cancelosi

Post Production: Nice Shoes
Colorists: Lenny Mastrandrea (video), Ron Sudul (promo)
VFX Artists: Jason Farber, Kevan Lee (video), Vin Roma (promo)
Producer: Jen Cadic

Music: Sony
Performer: Beyoncé Knowles
Title “I Was Here”
Songwriter: Diane Warren

Sound Design: AudioEngine
Sound Designer: Eric Hoffman

About Nice Shoes:

NYC-based Nice Shoes is a full service, artist-driven design, animation, visual effects and color grading studio specializing in high-end commercials, web content, film, TV and music videos. Since its inception in 1996, the studio has prided itself on consistently reinvesting in its talent, technical backbone, and client experience to set the standard of excellence both creatively and technically. Key company principals include: CEO/Partner Dominic Pandolfino, Colorists/Partners Chris Ryan and Lez Rudge, VFX Artist/Partner Rich Schreck, MD Kristen Martini, CD Brian Bowman, CIO Robert Keske.