Ghost Town Media is an LA-based production, editorial and VFX facility known for its music video and commercial work. In the past year, the facility has gained a huge following for a number of high-profile projects it has created for the band Linkin Park, including the trailer for a Linkin Park-inspired video game and the stage design and live show graphics for the band’s current “A Thousand Suns” tour, which kicked off on October 7 in South America. Since October 8, more than 3 million YouTube viewers have watched the surreal and stunning particle-based effects in the band’s latest music video, “Waiting for the End” (below). Directed by Joe Hahn, the video features band members morphing through skeletal transformations that end in gauzy, three-dimensional X-rays as if rendered by a million points of celestial light.
According to Torno, GTM achieved this effect by passing the footage through Trapcode Form and Particular multiple times to create a layered comp, where brighter accent particles float around the lead singers yet appear to be part of each primary form and its particle cloud. They timed the particle flow to different audio stems in the song itself, and added a final color pass and focal depth plane to throw the focus out of the particle field and create more depth.
StudioDaily spoke to David Torno, GTM’s VFX artist and supervisor, about the work of the VFX team, which also includes Brandon Parvini, Jeff Lichtfuss and freelancers Gabriel Perez and Tae Lee.
StudioDaily: What are you working on today?
DT: Right now we are working on an alternate stage design and graphics for an upcoming Linkin Park concert show that takes place in Madrid, Spain in early November.
SD: What VFX tool has most changed your workflow and/or influenced Ghost Town Media’s evolving style?
DT: Our primary tool isn’t really one single item, but a series of customized scripts I have been spearheading, designed to streamline our workflow and handle most of the repetitive tasks that normally slow things down. For example we have a pre-comping script that allows us to quickly organize editing timelines that we get from clients. This process involves pre-comping hundreds of layers individually, adding them to the Render Queue, batch setting the Render Settings and replacing the edit with the newly trimmed online footage. A process that use to take two days has now been reduced to half a day’s time. The ability to build these workflow shortcuts in a relatively quick timeline allows us to focus on some of the more enjoyable aspects of our work. We are beginning to consider ourselves more of a design house and this continually growing arsenal of tools allows us more creative experimentation. It’s easier to learn the ins and outs of plugins when we have more time to do so.
SD: What’s your favorite project and/or client from the past year?
DT: Well, we have been working almost exclusively with the Linkin Park team for the past year or so. They have been great to work with thus far in the process and have allowed us a tremendous amount of creative freedom. The initial build for “Waiting For The End” came out of an experiment done for their concert material and we were so ecstatic about it’s potential. When Joe (Hahn) gave us the treatment for the video we saw it as a perfect opportunity to further explore the earlier test.
SD: What was the project (film, TV or Web) that most impressed you in the last year, and why?
DT: It would have to be the 2009 OFFF festival title sequence done by Prologue. We saw this video just as we were entering into the Linkin Park re-branding process. It seemed to strike a chord with so many of the design directions we were pushing towards. It was pivotal in helping us explain that militant and aggressive could still be elegant.
SD: Besides Linkin Park, what else are you listening to these days?
DT: We listen to a tremendous amount of music here at the office. As of late, we’ve been listening to a lot of Flying Lotus, Bear In Heaven, Baths and Wolf Parade.