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It's not often a company hits the ripe old age of 50 whilst still pushing what's possible in the field, so when they do it's worth celebrating.

As part of this month's Music Video Focus, we asked to MPC, celebrating their half-century in the biz, to have a look through the archive and find ten of their favourite music videos, from the noughties to the now-ties.

With viewpoints and insights from the talent behind the vids, spanning many of MPC's offices, the list a delightful mix of obvious VFX madness and more subtle grading and tidying, all chosen for their influence, innovation and ingenuity.

Madonna – Die Another Day

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Alex Lovejoy - Creative Director (2D), MPC London

This video came at a special time at MPC, we had moved into the new building in Wardour Street and London was still the only office. 

We had been creating some really outstanding work with promos and commercials we made at this time...we were pioneers, world leaders in the methodology and art of head replacement visual effects.

The work mainly involved head replacements for the stunt double in the sword fighting sequence.

For this video I actually only worked on a couple shots. The work mainly involved head replacements for the stunt double in the sword fighting sequence. I do remember we even had to change small details such as replacing the ear for shots looking over the double's head with Madonna’s real ear!!
 
And of course, it's very exciting to have Madonna comes into the suite to view the film!

Coldplay – Life in Technicolor ii

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Tom Harding - VFX Supervisor, MPC London

I chose this video as Dougal Wilson has done some pretty cool videos, but this one stuck out for me - partly because of Dougal's usual left-field style and partly because it was fun to work on, and such a great track! 

Dougal's shoots often involve filming lots of carefully planned elements (sometimes only he knows how it all fits together) and this one was quite a mission - on the shoot and in post - so it was good to see it start to take shape. 

Dougal's shoots often involve filming lots of carefully planned elements.

It was also good to work on something with a bit of humor and it was nice to see Coldplay doing something a little tongue in cheek. 

Chris Martin even popped in to see the finished edit.

Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death

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Jean-Clément Soret - Global Creative Director of Colour Grading

2010 was a time when colourists enjoyed an extraordinary freedom to propose looks and experiment with images. 

We would just spend hours searching for the holy grail of the "never done before" look, debating if it was too much or not, using equipment in a way that it had never been designed to do. 

2010 was a time when colourists enjoyed an extraordinary freedom to propose looks and experiment with images. 

For this video, we eventually chose something inspired by an extreme bleach bypass look (a film chemical process) and had a lot of fun doing it. 

We had no idea we were making one of the top music videos ever made.

Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At

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Alex Lovejoy - Creative Director (2D), MPC London

What a promo! 

It still stands up today and people always have a great reaction to it. 

Directed by Traktor, it was a very complex project as it wasn’t full head replacements, it was just the face, which makes lining up the plates very tricky - if the head turn of the monkey did not match the blue screen head by just one frame then the shot did not work. We worked around this by adding extra elements to disguise the join in the plate where the tracking did not fully work - like the record sleeve flying past the monkey's head. 

If the head turn of the monkey did not match the blue screen head by just one frame then the shot did not work.

If this project where to be done today it would have a completely different VFX approach - back in the summer of 2002 this was a completely new methodology.

Felix from Basement Jaxx came in to view the finished promo in our cinema and it went on to win awards in the UK for Best VFX.

Anthony Bloor - Creative Director (CG), MPC London

This video was done before I joined MPC but I am just amazed at how brave it was for them to take on a job like this. It’s so much work, and there is no CGI.

The rough edges and slightly handmade feel is charming now but when it was released it was as good as it gets. 

A great track and an idea so out there and funny it captures the imagination of what is possible!

Sia – Cheap Thrills

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James Tillett - Colourist, MPC New York

The video was released while Maddie Ziegler and Sia’s ongoing collaboration was at its peak, so I was happy to be a part of the team behind it. 

The grade was clean and naturalistic and was intended to highlight the performance and enhance the graphic nature of the lighting and production design. 

And the video was so popular, it has been viewed over 413 million times on YouTube.

Mick Jagger – Gotta Get A Grip

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Mark Gethin - Creative Director (Colour), MPC Los Angeles

Saam Farahmand and I used to work on a lot of music promos together in London many years ago, and this was the first project we had worked on together for quite some time. 

The aim was to create a very dense, atmospheric video where you could literally feel the sweat dripping off of the people in the packed nightclub.

Beautifully shot by Steve Annis, the aim was to create a very dense, atmospheric video where you could literally feel the sweat dripping off of the people in the packed nightclub. Saam is always really collaborative and never really comes with a preconceived view of how he wants things to look – there’s always a fair amount of experimenting in the suite. 

I took home an award for Best Colour Grade in a Video at the UKMVAs.

Childish Gambino – This is America

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Ricky Gausis - Senior Colorist, MPC Los Angeles

Looking back, it was a completely unexpected whirlwind that people still want to talk about in my suite today. 

It seemed that everyone got caught up in the buzz that the video generated at the time whether they were in the industry, had a passing interest in music videos or were not generally the type of person to typically engage with this type of content. 

I'll never forget the positive messages that I received from so many people that I'd never even met.

I'll never forget the positive messages that I received from so many people that I'd never even met, not necessarily just for the work that I'd done but also for being involved in such an important video. 

That was such an incredible feeling and a reassuring display of the benefits of social media.

Jon Hopkins – Singularity

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Jean-Clément Soret - Global Creative Director of Colour Grading

This was a challenging video shot in sub-zero conditions in Belgrade. 

Seb Edwards did a great job creating a blockbuster worthy visual story. Khalid the DP also did a great job giving us all these colour temperatures to play with, it was as much about textures as colours and contrast.”

Julien Meesters - Deputy CEO & CCO, Mikros MPC Paris

After working with Seb Edwards on Lacoste’s Timeless we were thrilled that he brought this music video to the team at Mikros MPC. 

As the shooting team was given total freedom on set, it made our job that much more complicated when we got back to the studio. 

The film’s mind-blowing ballet of two strangers moving between attraction and rejection, growing in intensity as they embark on a captivating journey was a beautiful story to work on. 

As the shooting team was given total freedom on set, it made our job that much more complicated when we got back to the studio. 

Our teams across Paris, London and Bangalore worked collaboratively on matte painting, CG celling collapsing and complex rig removals for a stunning cinematic result.

Kali Uchis – After The Storm

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Dimitri Zola - Colorist, MPC Los Angeles

It was great working closely with Nadia Lee Cohen, she had a very specific palette and vision for each shot but also valued my judgement and eye as we brought the whole thing to life. 

I believe it is a timeless video that will be loved for years.

I was very proud of the finished product but the added bonus was all the awards that came in the following months, winning Gold Pencil for Best Production Design as well as being selected as a Vimeo staff pick. 

I believe it is a timeless video that will be loved for years.

Ed Sheeran ft. Chance The Rapper & PnB Rock – Cross Me

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Dominic Alderson - CG Lead, MPC London

It’s not often we get a project like this, where the behind-the-scenes of motion capture is showcased so prominently in the final creative product, as the dancer morphs and glitches through a range of avatars including Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper. 

This was a brilliant opportunity to show people how we make so much of what we do.

In that sense, this was a brilliant opportunity to show people how we make so much of what we do. 

We are lucky to have so many technically advanced resources at our fingertips here which means we can focus on drawing out the most spectacular visual fantasy.

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