Hooligan, a creative post-production boutique that specializes in artistic offline editing and visual effects, recently contributed a suite of post-production solutions to a new online campaign for MyHeritage DNA via creative agency Berlin Cameron, featuring spoken word artist Prince Ea. Breaking through the crowded genetic testing landscape, the video centerpiece poetically explores how the services of MyHeritage can create greater personal awareness and social understanding between people of all races and ethnicities.

“The public response to this campaign has been tremendous, and I believe that’s due in part to the relentless creative spirit that everyone brought to the production, beginning with Berlin Cameron, who entrusted us as a key creative and technical partner,” remarks Hooligan President and Senior Editor Kane Platt. “As a collective boutique, this project showcases the deep pool of post-production talent and resources we can share when collaborating with agencies to tell great stories and craft beautiful films for brands.”

Hooligan remarkably re-built the 3D “box” environments from which Prince Ea delivers a heartfelt monologue about racial identity and racism. The team also created the kinetic typography and graphics that interact with Prince Ea and the space, emphasizing his enlightening spoken word in bold and emotive ways. When he says “Racism is very real, but race is a figment of our collective imagination,” his “box” unfolds, revealing a breathtaking landscape accompanied by DNA-inspired animations morphing into the word “HUMANITY.”  

Hooligan began work on the video following the live-action shoot in Mexico by director Jonathan Agustavo of Skunk, which is the location of the background revealed in the final scene of the video. The team executed the highly technical job over the course of several months, while working closely with the Berlin Cameron creative directors Svenja Timme-Bastian and Tom Pastore, and art director Kristy Heilenday to visually enhance the concept of the video early on. Producer Eric Weiss underscored the mixed-media piece with a symphonic backbeat and sound editing.

Platt brought on Hooligan After Effects Artist Damien Oramas, who developed graphic language based on Berlin Cameron’s style frames. Devised as if projecting on a wall, Senior VFX Flame Artist Paul Marangos collaborated with Oramas to map the motion graphics in the 3D environments and create the subtle textures and details that make it feel real.  

“This was a completely integrated collaboration between all of us,” adds Platt. “The piece has great creative, beautiful artistry and a powerful message.”

The moving box and panel elements were actually derived from human-powered practical set pieces, not machines. Hooligan was tasked with integrating these live-action and CG elements, while ensuring all of the transitions within the 3D space looked seamless.

Color, texture, lighting and spatial awareness were equally critical to not only setting the mood, but also the big tonal shift where the beautiful world opens up to Prince Ea. Here, the most seemingly generic visual aspects presented by far the job’s biggest technical challenges. For one, Hooligan painted the walls from their original off-white color to a cool grey; but first, they had to painstakingly rotoscope Prince Ea entirely out of every shot.

“Albeit a bold undertaking, the visual contrasts that we were able to achieve in post served the concept well -- that you think you are one thing, stuck in a box, but then your true heritage reveals there’s so much more to what connects us all as individuals,” concludes Platt. “MyHeritage was brave to embrace this beautiful concept from Berlin Cameron, and I think it’s connecting with people in a very different and, hopefully, beautiful way.”