2006-The creative team at Click 3X and director Georgie Greville recently completed their fourth collaborative project, this time a three-minute public service announcement that also happens to be a music video for Dr. Octagon, featuring the former Ultramagnetic MC, Kool Keith. Dr. Octagon's up-tempo electro track, "Trees," produced by One Watt Sun, is about to bring social responsibility to the forefront of popular culture. Hip hop may not be the first genre of music you think of when looking to start a discourse on environmental issues but the Bronx-raised lyricist is hopeful that will soon change. The video/PSA was produced by MTV in support of their think MTV/Break the Addiction initiative and will premiere Wednesday, November 1, on MTV's TRL (Total Request Live) as well as being immediately available at think.mtv.com.
MTV, long a supporter of a variety of environmental causes, produced the piece in cooperation with OCD International as a public service announcement in an effort to inform and engage viewers. This latest initiative depicts a cautionary tale about deforestation and the destruction of our environment caused by global warming. The video features a number of young actors including the talented J.J. Singleton who plays Kool Keith himself. The innocence symbolized by the children in the video is countered by a dark and barren industrial landscape devoid of living plants. The song's message comes across loud and clear as scene after scene of striking visuals flash upon the screen.
Greville explained, "This project has proven to be a labor of love for all of us from its inception. We all feel really lucky to have worked on a hip hop video with such a strong message not to mention all of us being huge Kool Keith (Black Elvis) fans from the get go. My hope is that the PSA will engage a broad audience on the subject of global warming, and serve as a positive call to action- a reminder that you can still make a difference."
Regarding Click 3X Greville added, "Mark, Anthony, Steve, and Gabriel were able to create amazing illustrated elements to fit the sets I shot while surrounding them with a slick CG world for everything to mingle in. The result is a visually stunning combination of approachable present and surreal post-apocalyptic aesthetics. They really brought the juxtaposition between the children and the dark messaging to life."
The spot, a blend of live action, illustration, and CG animation, is the result of a close collaboration between Greville, Click 3X creative director Steve Tozzi and senior visual effects artist Mark Szumski who served as co-creative director on the project. Tozzi and Szumski lead a team of creatives including editor Rob Cambell, head of CG Anthony Filipakis, and illustrator Gabriel Tick in the creation of the video's highly conceptual look and stylized sensibility. The team referenced the works of director/animator Tim Burton and artist Kara Walker as a launching point early in the development and from there, each member of the studio's creative team contributed substantially to the overall look.
"This PSA is unique for a number of reasons not the least of which is that it was in a constant state of evolution from the start," explained Tozzi. "The whole production process was very fluid which I think brought out the creativity of the entire team. The end result is a piece that has a terrific style and conveys a truly important message."
Click 3X combined a number of techniques to achieve the desired look, from stop motion animation to 3D tracking and match moving. "We made extensive use of CG but we used it in a rather stylized manner," commented Szumski, adding, "Because so much of the eco-apocalyptic look was derived from the illustrative CG environments we created, it was important that the look not distract from the narrative but rather further it."
Executive producer Jason Mayo commented, "As a studio we invested heavily in this project not just because we thought it was a tremendous creative opportunity but because we feel the message "Trees" communicates is that important. Anything we as an industry can do to bring greater awareness to the environmental challenges we face, we not only should do, but in my opinion, we have an obligation to do."
"Trees" PSA/Music Video Credits
Artist / Album: Dr. Octagon / The Return of Dr. Octagon
Track: "Trees" featuring Kool Keith and One Watt Sun
Initial Air Date: November 1, 2006
Where Shot: Brooklyn, New York
Production Company: MTV (New York)
Writer/Director: Georgie Greville
Director of Photography: Pat Donnelly
Art Department: Jeff Everett
Costume Design/Styling: Sally Penn
Producer(s): Jere Orlandi, Simon Walbrook
Design & Visual Effects: Click 3X (New York)
Creative Director: Steve Tozzi
Co-Creative Director/Visual Effects Artist: Mark Szumski
Head of CG: Anthony Filipakis
Illustrator: Gabriel Tick
Senior Producer: Cara Buckley
Executive Producer: Jason Mayo
Editorial: Click 3X (New York)
Editor: Rob Campbell
Sound Design: Sound Lounge (New York)
Sound Designer: Marshall Grupp
Mixer: Peter Buccelato
Executive Producer: Brad Stratton
About Click 3X
New York-based Click 3X produces exceptional visual solutions for the advertising and broadcast and the entertainment industry. The company provides visual effects, computer animation, editorial, and design services from its digital studio located at 16 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010.