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HAL Depicts Timeless Kiss in 'Heart Attack'

For the recent Low vs. Diamonds music video, Heart Attack, HAL helps achieve gradual yet detailed aging during a timeless yet intimate lovers' kiss.


Unlike most frenetic, highly stylized rock formats, Heart Attack is a simple yet wonderfully conceived video that takes an intimate look at two aging lovers as they kiss. All images courtesy of HAL. 

Rolling Stone recently named indie rockers Low vs. Diamond as one of the six "Artists to Watch" defining pop and rock in 2008. If their new music video, Heart Attack off the group's self-titled debut album, is any indication, it will be defining a new wave in music videos as well.

The way this emotionally powerful piece departs from the standard rock video format makes it especially unique. Unlike most frenetic, highly stylized rock formats, Heart Attack is a simple yet wonderfully conceived video that takes an intimate look at two lovers aging decades at a time as they kiss. And with everyone already talking about the remarkable CG aging feats in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (opening Dec. 19), the work couldn't be timelier.

The music video is more or less a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s "The Seven Ages of Man" speech from As You Like It.

Directed by Marc Klasfeld, head of Rockhard Films, Heart Attack focuses on lead singer Lucas Field and his girlfriend, Annie Kates, gazing deeply into each other's eyes and kissing passionately while he sings to her. Their two faces, seen in a dramatically close profile, never leave the screen but gradually and with detailed progression begin to age. At first slight imperfections appear. The imperfections deepen into heavier lines that inevitably lead to their skin cracking and their facial structure deforming in old age and ultimately decaying in death.

"The best videos have a timeless simplicity to them," Klasfeld remarks "and that is what we intended with this one."

While it may be simplistic in design, Heart Attack is anything but simple in its construction. Even though it appears seamless, the final video owes its visually stunning style to vfx.

Based on their high standards for quality and a powerful reel, the visual effects team at HAL got the nod.

Three-time Emmy Award-winning vfx supervisor Chris Zapara led the team at this Los Angeles-based visual effects company. Prior to starting HAL, Zapara worked at Zoic and Eden FX and has done effects for CSI, Battlestar Galactica, Hellboy,

Cracking in the faces as the couple is dying was achieved using a combination of filmed elements, two dimensional debris and 3D dust and shards rendered in LightWave.

Then we find the young couple in their twenties standing on a sidewalk facing each other, and the dolly begins.

The collapsing elements were warped to match the last shot where the couple is face to face for a moment on a sidewalk. Then the youthful pair now resumes their real lives going in opposite directions with their friends.

The shot, involving the complicated dolly removal, was 3D tracked in Synth Eyes. A replacement sidewalk was rendered in LightWave and then composited back into the shot using After Effects.

"This was a very painstaking process," Zapara concludes. "Any frame that was off would show. With the whole thing being so close-up and tight, there was no room for error and no place to hide."

The effects team at HAL spent an entire month on the production and four months on post-production. All in all, their expertise resulted in an amazing use of visual effects to dramatically convey and enhance the emotional impact of the music and lyrics.

J. Paul Peszko is a freelance writer and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He writes various features and reviews, as well as short fiction. He has a feature comedy in development and has just completed his second novel. When he isn't writing, he teaches communications courses.