Director Marc Webb, perhaps best known for his feature film 500 Days of Summer (2009) and the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, called on Laundry! to provide visual effects for the Green Day music video “21st Century Breakdown.” The look Webb envisioned married the punk-influenced stencil art of Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown album cover with the political graffiti style of English street artist Banksy.
“Marc came to us with a performance-driven idea: shooting the band against a greenscreen on a Los Angeles rooftop. Marc had some cool storyboards and specific ideas about how the performance and typography of the song’s lyrics needed to sync dramatically,” Laundry! creative director Anthony Liu notes. “Beyond that, a lot of the visuals were in our hands.”
To create the look, Laundry! integrated Webb’s performance footage and directed the second unit. They changed the footage to black and white and added an impactful stencil effect, which was then composited with their own gritty live-action footage of street life and urban decay. The footage was enhanced further in Adobe After Effects, where textures, environments and sweeping camera moves were added to create the story.
“The sheer volume of footage we had to animate in only two weeks was by far the most challenging aspect for us,” Laundry! creative director P.J. Richardson says. “Like most design studios, we’re used to working in :30 and :60 intervals; this was four plus minutes of solid 2D animation.”