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MTh Directors Grady Hall and Mark Kudsi Join Forces for Katy Perry’’s “‘Roar’”

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Mark Kudsi, Katy Perry and Grady Hall
Mark Kudsi, Katy Perry and Grady Hall
MTh (Motion Theory) directors Grady Hall and Mark Kudsi teamed up for vocal artist Katy Perry’s new music video for her single, “Roar.” Inspired by the song’s message of empowerment, Hall and Kudsi conceived the almost five-minute-long video as homage to adventures and legends in the vein of Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe and jungle-themed comic book heroine, Sheena.

While each director generally focuses on solo projects, the music video was such an undertaking that the pair took the opportunity to collaborate with one another, along with the team of artists at Mirada to deliver more than 100 visual effects shots in three weeks. Hall recently directed the music video for Capital Cities “Safe and Sound,” which won a MTV Video Music Award, and Kudsi’s accolades include a Grammy Award for his directing contributions to The Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow” music video.

“Mark and I wanted the video to reflect both the anthemic and personal sides of ‘Roar,’” Hall said. “Since we already had a fiery plane crash, a bunch of animal scenes and in-camera vine swinging in the works, we decided to fully develop the story and scenes before working out the rest of the ‘icing’ of the huge visual concepts, animations and surprises. We find that when the story’s right, the visuals usually fall in line.”

“There’s no small way to do the concept ‘Katy Perry, Queen of the Jungle,’” Kudsi said. “But we stayed loyal to a shared vision of always honoring the song and making sure every scene unfolded in a uniquely Katy way. The process was a great collaborative effort between our entire team, the label, Katy’s team, and Katy herself, who was funny, whip-smart, creatively engaged and adventurous enough to throw herself into all of our crazy ideas.”

Hall and Kudsi spent two weeks on extensive R&D to establish vignettes that told a rich visual story in line with the core idea of the song, with Katy Perry and Danny Lockwood, Capitol Music Group’s SVP of creative & video, providing significant input. Much of the action was captured in-camera over three shoot days at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, with Perry completing the majority of her own stunts – including swinging on a vine and standing atop a towering 40-foot waterfall. Various jungle animals featured in the video were also on set for the shoot. After three weeks of editing and postproduction, “Roar” was delivered, featuring a hefty 139 shots in the final cut.

While the Arboretum provided a substantial amount of foliage as a jungle location, Mirada artists completed the transformation through set extensions and matte paintings. Led by creative director Jonathan Wu and visual effects supervisor Michael Shelton, the Mirada team created the cave drawing cell animation, detailed particle work in the stunning firefly sequence and plate compositing for some of the animal scenes along with a substantial amount of rig clean up.

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