Artists Enhance Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' World with CGI
March 6, 2014

Artists Enhance Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' World with CGI

Katy Perry's latest music video for the hip hop-infused #1 hit single "Dark Horse" is a bold, Egyptian-themed cinematic epic created by storytelling studio Mirada. 

Starring “Katy-Pätra,” the video is a larger-than-life tale with CG images that follows the legendary “Queen of Memphis” as a parade of would-be suitors vie for her heart. It can be seen here:

Beyond the traditional size and scope of a music video, “Dark Horse” rivals the grand-scale of a major motion picture with re-imagined Egyptian motifs that build a mythical landscape defined by stylistic juxtapositions that mirror the track’s fluid mix of sexy vocals. While much of the action was captured in-camera on stage during a rapid two-day shoot, Mirada pushed the video’s aesthetic to new heights with intricate 3D character assets, FX particle and fluid simulations and visual enhancements to key moments within big live-action sets and sprawling digital matte-paintings. 

Working closely with Katy Perry, Director Mathew Cullen and Capitol Music Group SVP of Creative & Video Danny Lockwood, the Mirada team — led by Creative Director Izhak Roitman and Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Ashton — designed, and delivered 127visual effects shots for the “Dark Horse” music video. As Roitman explained, “The design process started with playful references pulled from great sci-fi movies, combined with the vivid color on old album covers like ELO and Iron Maiden. Then we took those and mashed them up with hip-hop culture for a more hyper-real, more immediate look and feel.” 

“Mirada has delivered on many levels for our recording artists, especially with Katy Perry. I’m consistently impressed by the creativity and commitment their artists display with each new project,” said Danny Lockwood, Capitol Music Group SVP of Creative & Video. “Mathew Cullen and Mirada took ‘Dark Horse’ to another level and helped create a stunning visual world which is distinctly Katy and very entertaining.

From creating giant Egyptian pyramids and architecture, building and animating a talking sphinx, to re-creating the exotic Nile River, integrating elaborate matte paintings, and turning men into dust, the team of gifted Mirada artists yielded all the incredible visuals in just eleven days. 

As Ashton put it, “The project was an adventure in the truest sense of the word. We had an excellent team that embraced the story and pulled together to make a very big, unique film in a very short period of time. A perfect storm indeed.” 

Tools used for the project include The Foundry’s NUKE, Autodesk Maya, Chaos Group V-Ray, Side Effects Houdini, Pixologic ZBrush, Andersson Technologies SynthEyes, Autodesk Flame, Adobe Photoshop, MAXON CINEMA 4D and Adobe After Effects.

The “Dark Horse” video marks Mirada’s third collaboration with the pop superstar, having also created the videos for the jungle-themed “Roar” and the candy-coated “California Gurls.” Though a massive undertaking, Mirada built on the creative shorthand developed over previous collaborations with Katy to achieve the project’s ambitious-and-epic scale. “Dark Horse” is the third single off Katy Perry’s PRISM album and her ninth US number one hit.