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KromA Turns Britney Spears Toxic

For Britney Spears new music video TOXIC, KromA was assigned the duty of creating a computer-animated stunt double of singer as part of a huge package of animation and effects. In a tight schedule of less than three weeks, the studio created a virtual Paris and London street scenes and a 3D security tunnel environment where Spears performs back-flips to dodge laser beams.

Directed by Joseph Kahn, the video features Spears as a sexy stewardess, a James Bond-like 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 and other models. One scene featuring Spears racing through the streets of Paris on a motorcycle piloted by model Tyson Beckford ends when the bike goes airborne and twisting before Spears jumps on a bridge. KromA artists created 3D replacements of Spears, Beckford and the motorcycle for this sequence.

"That entire shot, including the bridge environment is 3D," said 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 a London shot where the singer, after scaling the wall of a high rise, flips in the air and lands on the balcony of an apartment. 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 gathered HDR data on Los Angeles streets at night to apply a naturalistic urban lighting to the 3D street scenes.

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."

For a shot in the airplane sequence, artists created a 3D rubber mask that Spears tears off a man's 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," said Yukich. "I did a head replacement, putting the second guy's head on the first one's 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 ponytail 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 Britney's hand gestures."

KromA is located at 9421 &1/2 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90035. For more information, call (310) 282-0370 or visit www.kroma.biz.

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Rick DeMott
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