David Knight - 9th May 2014

NORTON uses his background in VFX to excellent use in his video for Danny Brown's 25 Bucks, featuring Megan James from Purity Ring, combining practical and CGI to create the impressive time slice shots throughout. 

Danny and Megan interact with these freeze-frame vignettes from his life - with everything from plates to money being tossed around - in a series of steadicam shots. The sort of thing that used to require motion control.

NORTON explained to us how it's done...

PN: How did you get the idea for your Danny Brown video?

NORTON: When I was listening to the track, it felt almost like Danny was painting different scenes from his childhood. The imagery became so vivid in my mind that I thought of this sort of ghost-of-Christmas-past kind of trip. 

Initially it was just sort of a visit to a museum of Danny’s memories in which Danny was the tour guide. But it became something more in the treatment I submitted, where Danny actually interacted with objects in different scenes. When Megan and Danny leave, the visit was over, the play button was pressed and this inevitable past would try to catch up.

• How did you achieve the FX in the video?

It was a combination of practical effects on set, basically objects hung with wires that were removed in post, together with CG objects that were 3D tracked and composited into a scene. For instance, in the final money shot, we placed real bills on young Danny’s hands and also a couple of bills rigged to the table so that Danny could pick up what looked like floating bills; then in post, VFX house Varnish added CG bills to the scene. 

When the camera turns to Megan, that gave the production design team a chance to run in and out and remove the real bills rigs and throw lots of normal bills on the table for the actors to interact with.

In other scenes, the effect was simpler. Like in the mom smoking by the stairs, where we just added CG smoke that was tracked in and composited.


ProducerStephen Buchanan
ProducerJared Shelton
ProducerDustin Highbridge
Director of PhotographySing Howe Yam
SteadicamAlex Kornreich
Production designerHannah Hurney
1st ADEclass
StylistKimmy Erin
Hair & Make-upTina Cohen
VFXBrian Budak, NORTON, and Varnish FX
Grading companyNightshift LA
Executive ProducerStephen Buchanan
Production CompanyMore Media
Other creditsDanny's Groomer: Meghan Ellis Special thanks to: Jamie and Ali at LARK, Guillaume Raffi at NightShift LA, Dart Parker, Mookie Singerman, Benjamin Jacobs at Fools Gold.

David Knight - 9th May 2014

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