Three Effects-Driven Music Videos To Inspire Your Next Project

Three Effects-Driven Music Videos To Inspire Your Next Project

Find inspiration for your upcoming project in a place you may not think to look — a music video.

For most VFX artists, the go-to medium is still the silver-screen. Even in the world of streaming platforms and quick bite social media content, few forms of artistic consumption come close to the grandeur of a Hollywood blockbuster. That being said, one of the best ways to receive healthy inspiration is to look outside your box. 

Since the early days of MTV, music videos have been a middle child of sorts in the filmmaking family. In general, budgets are smaller and narratives are less expansive—but it’s these constraints which have led to countless memorable moments.

The following videos are sure to provide you inspiration and fuel for your creativity.

1. Humble - Kendrick Lamar

Innovation is at the core of visual effects. It’s a field which smashes the technical and the creative in a super collider of pixel magic. For Kendrick Lamar’s hit Humble, this ingenuity is on another level in terms of polish and form.

The video feels simple on the surface without any out-of-this-world effects or scenes. There are no explosions, rocket ships, or anything of the sort here. Rather, the team behind Humble brings an abstract surrealism to the video which is so immersive it’s easy to miss. 

Humble earns consideration as “effects-driven” from it’s incredible image design and camera tricks from the start, let alone the use of new techniques such as 3D cameras in the bike riding scene, and lightweight motion control in the famous Steve Jobs motif. Perhaps the best thing about Humble is the simplicity of the effects themselves. 

Consider the flaming-head scene for example. In terms of the visual effects alone, this is as simple a use of stock footage as one could imagine. The art direction, however, is a completely different story with hundreds of single frames standing to criticism as art pieces of their own. 

The lesson? If you know what you want to say, even the most subtle visuals can make a heavy impact. 

2. All the Good Girls go to Hell - Billie Eilish 

If there’s anything inspiring, it’s the next generation pushing the envelope. Billie Eilish is not only a force of music, but a force for art as a whole. It’s well known that whether it be music videos (which she often directs herself), apparel, album art, and beyond, Billie is the driving creative force behind everything which permeates from her brand. 

For All the Good Girls go to Hell, Billie finds a continuation from previous music videos with a character falling from heaven into a tar pit on the surface of Earth. The fallen angel finds herself facing a world on fire—Billie’s vision of our current climate crisis as a California native. The result here is something truly memorable which feels just as macabre as it is salient to the modern condition. 

Aside from the angel character itself, the defining feature of Billie’s hit video is the burning environment surrounding her. There’s a nearly flawless blend of practical and post-production here, with a haunting environment that culminates with Billie’s wings coming to a full burn. 

What stands out in these final moments in the painterly nature of the frame. Across every edge there’s something going on—with silhouettes of women dancing in the environmental flames themselves. This is an incredible use of layering and filling out the edges of the frame, as the story is once again simple to achieve, yet brilliant in execution. 

3. GIANTS - True Damage

What do you get at the center of a triangle with points animation, music, and video games? You get Riot Games. True Damage is their sophomore venture into pop music and though some may argue K/DA is the better of the two groups, True Damage’s GIANTS music video brings the visuals to a level of abstraction that’s truly unique. 

There’s a visceral, yet fantastic feel to the GIANTS music video which is largely supported by the near-future metropolitan color pallet found throughout. It’s grunge and bright at the same time, inviting the viewer into a world not unlike our own, but way cooler at the same time. There’s a lot of subtle effects happening, which not only support the animations, but beg the question: what would this look like live-action? 

We’re welcomed into the video with an establishing city and powerful use of pixel sorting and glitch effects. It’s futurism, but fueled by the music. GIANTS is notably cinematic in its execution as well with a heavy use of bloom, lens flares, and other optical tricks which makes it feel movie-esque. 

Just as music videos bring a POV alternative to narrative filmmaking, animation takes it to another level. Regardless, the lessons are the same and the visuals hit just as hard. 

What are some of your favorite music videos? There are sure to be lessons found within the frames which offer takeaways for anything from a full length feature to your next VFX TikTok.

With the new ActionVFX Subscription, you can gain direct access to our library for as low as $14.99 a month, and try your hand at new effects-driven videos. This is the best way to use the ActionVFX library in your future projects.


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