New York - Creative Group, a full-service postproduction facility, and Mantra Design, an award-winning creative content design and visual effects boutique, have transformed Jay-Z’s renowned Answer the Call 9/11 benefit concert into an hour-long special airing on the Fuse music network. Together, the two studios delivered a complete post package for "Fuse Presents Jay-Z Live from Madison Square Garden: Answer the Call," including video editing, audio mixing, and 3D graphics.
Mantra Design created the on-air identity for Fuse Presents, a concert series showcasing top musical acts such as the Jay-Z concert, a benefit show for the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund that took place September 11 of this year. For the series, Fuse sought a look that would transport the at-home viewer directly into the concert experience. “The mandate was to create something that was epic, cinematic, timeless and signature to this series,” says Mantra executive producer Casey Steele.
Mantra delivered on this directive with a graphics package depicting a gradual approach to a massive concert stadium. The stadium is completely covered with windows, which alternately depict the name Fuse and photos of the artist from whatever concert is being highlighted. Mantra created the graphics using a combination of Autodesk’s Maya 3D software and Adobe After Effects.
As the Mantra team put the final touches on Fuse Presents, Creative Group’s editing team for the project, comprising editors Mari Keiko Gonzalez and Mike Levine, got down to work, first delivering a cold open to accompany the broadcast of the concert Fuse aired live on September 11, then doing some minor edits on a two-hour commercial broadcast of the concert aired by Fuse on Sunday, September 13. As the concert ended on the evening of Friday, September 11, the edit for the two-hour version required an extremely tight turnaround; Gonzalez and Levine started editing Saturday morning, and outputted the edited version to Fuse around 3 a.m. on Sunday.
The main story for Creative Group, however, was the one-hour version of the concert for the Fuse Presents series, which premiered on Saturday, September 19. A moving medley of performances from the concert, archival footage of September 11, 2001 and interviews of 9/11 first responders talking on-site at Ground Zero, the concert special is intended to provoke the same sense of New York pride, honor and belonging for the at-home viewer as was experienced by those at the actual concert.
“Working on the one-hour version of the concert really gave us the opportunity to tell a story, as we had more time to be creative with it,” recalls Gonzalez. “In the concert, Jay-Z really references New York and what it’s like to be a New Yorker ─ he conveys this sense of history in the city; this pride in being from the city. We wanted to establish that connection visually for the viewers.”
According to Gonzalez, she and her team accomplished this primarily by re-editing each song visually to highlight the connection between Jay-Z and the MSG audience. Roughly 10 cameras had been used to capture the live performance, giving Gonzalez and her team plenty of footage to work with, including shots of Jay-Z’s moment of silence for those lost on 9/11, concertgoers rapping along with the artist and shots depicting the exhilarated crowd from the vantage point of the performers on stage.
Rounding out the visual elements of Fuse Presents Jay-Z Live from Madison Square Garden: Answer the Call was an audio mix and sound design performed by Sue Pelino, Creative Group’s VP of audio post production and senior mixer. Working with a music remix provided by Jim Caruana, Pelino and her assistant, Rebecca Chandler, imported the stems of the separate stereo vocals, band, background vocals and audience near and far. They then conformed it to Gonzalez’s final video cut of the one-hour version and started the post-audio remix, which took two days. Ultimately, Pelino and Chandler delivered a stereo and 5.1 mix for Fuse, which aired the show in HD.
All of the proceeds and merchandising from Jay-Z’s concert were donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund.