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18th November 2015
Elton rocks!
Title of film: Elton John, Looking Up
Director: M-I-E
Production Company: Good Egg
1.4 catches up with the boys at M-I-E about rummaging through Elton's wardrobe and creating a Kandinsky-inspired film for his latest track, Looking Up

Costumes and colour … it’s got to be Elton. Was this animation style your first reaction to listening to the track? Did you ever consider a more literal rather than abstract approach?

Our very first reaction was drawn to abstraction; we wanted to compare Elton and his career to classic modern art. Kandinsky was the first painter that came into our heads. The challenge was to make the promo unique and personal to Elton, so we decided to make his costumes from down the years, our reference for all the shapes and patterns that we used, culminating, at the end of each scene, with an abstract version of his costume on screen.

Was there a tight brief from Elton’s commissioner?

No, not at all! The brief was literally that he did not want to be in the video. Anything else was possible.

How did you go about referencing his costumes, did you have access to some spectacular wardrobe or documentation?

We did. We were given access to Elton’s photographic archive, which was huge and amazing. From these we found the costumes we liked the best and could have the most fun with. The glasses became a really useful device to show Elton in a classic pose, at the piano, full of energy.

Was it difficult to marry up the visuals with the beat of the track?

We requested all the stems from the record label, so we could isolate each instrument within the track. We also did a fair bit of R&D into anything that could help us and ease the work load but none of the stuff we found was particularly useful, so we did it all manually.

What were the main challenges of the project?

The main challenge was to make sure we carry the viewer’s attention to the very end of the video. Because it’s effectively motion graphics with a twist, we were very conscious that three and a half minutes is a long time. Making the appearances of the costumes exciting and surprising was key as well as making sure there was a real sense of fun throughout.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Elton signed off the treatment and style frames, then he didn’t see anything till the video was completely done. This was quite a nerve racking strategy but his creative director, Tony King – who’s been working with Elton for 40 years, was confident it was the best one. “Elton should not see anything until it is finished!” Tony also insisted on coming in to go through changes face to face and was very keen to see our studio and get an idea of where we did our work. We had a great time with Tony listening to all his stories about rock ’n roll in the 70s…

Credits

Director / producer: M-I-E
Design: Yukai Du
2d animation: Yukai Du, Beidi Gou and Rob Phillips
3d animation: Kevin O’Shea
Compositing: John Wilkinson and Rob Phillips
Commissioner: Ailsa Robertson
Music video rep: Marisa Garner
Prod. Company: Good Egg