The Uprising Creative Directs Rihanna's "American Oxygen"
Over the past several months, directors Darren Craig, Jonathan Craven and Jeff Nicholas and their colleagues from the award-winning integrated creative + production company The Uprising Creative have become especially popular. With their personal engagements at SXSW and high-profile project debuts for many top brands and renowned celebrities, their newest collaboration with Rihanna on the music video for her hit single "American Oxygen" has been causing massive waves of excitement since its exclusive debut on Tidal on last week.
Coinciding with the project's release on YouTube and Vevo today the directors are proud to share more details on the project, which is their second music video for Rihanna, following 2013's "What Now."
The directors' 2013 project for Rihanna was edited by Clark Eddy, who joined their team once again for "American Oxygen." This time, Isaac Bauman (who shot Sam Smith's "I'm Not The Only One," Drake's "Worst Behavior" and Bored Nothing's "Let Down," among many others) served as director of photography, and the iconic results actually started turning heads even before "American Oxygen" debuted on Tidal. In early March, the NCAA licensed some of the video's footage for use in its official, high-profile March Madness on-air promo campaign.
As the directors explained, the storytelling goals they shared with Rihanna for this project were to dramatically present American history using stock footage of famous and infamous moments. "We wanted to showcase both the positive and the negative," they began. "The struggles within the country and the ones those outside the country face in coming here; the dark side of the positive and the light side of the negative."
To assemble those classic clips, Uprising's team performed exhaustive research, ultimately drawing from more than a dozen sources, including the Associated Press, CNN, Getty Images, NBC and Shutterstock, to name but a few. Of course, a great deal of effort also went into their live-action shoots with Rihanna on two different Southern California locations. The first was an active runway at the airport in Victorville, which was shut down for filming... and the second was Pasadena's City Hall. "Normally people shoot on taxiways and the surrounding airport elements, but we really wanted the feel and scale of a real runway, so we went for it," they added.
According to Bauman, the choice to shoot using ARRI's Alexa camera package was an easy one. "When I shoot beauty work, I always go Alexa because it is more flattering," he said. "Secondly, I knew we would be shooting outside in the desert, and to capture some silhouette-y, high-contrast footage of Rihanna in front of the giant American flag, I wanted the extra dynamic range."
That choice and others made to address the needs to shoot in any direction and to deal with high winds on location all paid off in the end. "It looks phenomenal, in my opinion," Bauman added. "We got everything the artist and the directors wanted."
Key members of Uprising's project crew included producer Nathan Scherrer, line producer Ben Piety and production designer Brandon Mendez. Additional editing was handled by Vinnie Hobbs and Olly Riley-Smith, while visual effects were courtesy of Skulley FX and Ryan Paterson. Colorist Trevor Durtschi of Ntropic handled final colour.
Genre: In-camera effects , Music performance , choreography