Working on The Weeknd

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Brewster Parsons Lights The Weeknd On Fire – (July 24, 2015) – Rising pop/R&B star The Weeknd gives a fiery performance in his new “Can’t Feel My Face” music video. The effect was thanks to the award-winning VFX artists at Brewster Parsons. Working closely with Director Grant Singer, the Brewster Parsons team created photo real CG fire to make Abel–known as The Weeknd–burst into flames while dancing to the Song of Summer 2015.

Catch The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” music video here.

Directed by Grant Singer from Anonymous Content, the video begins with The Weeknd serenading an apathetic audience in a dimly lit nightclub. Despite Abel’s best efforts, the crowd heckles and throws their drinks at him. The tension builds until a shady man lobs his lighter at Abel, who then bursts into flames. Energized by the blaze, he continues to dance. The audience is captivated and joins in applause as the flames rage higher.

So how were Abel and Singer able to achieve a 45-second fire dance without a medical emergency? Anonymous Content called on Brewster Parsons to find the solution.

“Actually setting Abel on fire is, of course, impossible due to safety reasons,” Brewster Parsons CG Supervisor TJ Burke explains, “our stunt team, however, was more than up to the task. The flames were an amazing sight to see on set and were a huge influence in how we designed the primary fire elements in CG. It was a fun technical challenge to match that look throughout the piece.” Brewster Parsons put together an all-star team led by VFX Supervisor Louis Mackall, CG Supervisor TJ Burke and VFX Producer Alex Carlson to bring the heat.

Utilizing 3D to Flame pipeline, the BP team was able to achieve Director Grant Singer’s vision of “big, graphical flames, without breaking out of a truly realistic look,” Burke detailed.

According to Burke, the most challenging aspect was the “volume of shots because of the complexity of the fire simulations.” He continued, “Once we got the look everyone was happy with, it was a matter of creatively applying this over to every dance move and set up.”

To tackle the difficult intricacies of creating hyper real fire in an extreme, art directed environment, BP brought the unrivaled talents of Lead FX Artist Zack Judson and Flame Artist Raphael Mosley to reunite the same powerhouse VFX team that worked on Snowhite and The Huntsman.

The process entailed creating a dancing digital double of Abel in Maya, flame simulation in Houdini and compositing in Flame. Add a touch of 2D smoke and heat and OOOH! We can’t help but feel this is the hottest visual effects video of the summer.