Sometimes you get the opportunity to pull out all the stops on a project — that was exactly the case when Resolve was asked to create the music video for “Surround Sound” by JID ft. 21 Savage & Baby Tate. The team took it as a chance to play with all the toys they had on deck, including a bolt robot (think one of those machine arms that builds cars, but that can hold a camera), a helicopter rig, and simulation software. “When JID approached us initially with the track, there wasn’t a firm direction they wanted to go in - they just told us to let them know where our heads were at,” says Chad Tennies, Resolve founder and co-director of the video. “I thought, man, this is our shot to use all of the craziest rigs we could possibly imagine.” Production took place in Atlanta over the course of 3 days, giving the team plenty of time to handle all of the technicalities.
When it came to mapping out the scenes of the video, the Resolve team took inspiration from the track itself. “The song has a switch up melodically, and the video switches up at that point too,” says Mac Grant, co-director. They visually represented this switch by transitioning from color to black and white after Baby Tate’s verse, a move that meshes perfectly with the slower beat and more serious lyrics of the latter half of the song. The bolt robot was used to achieve that final black and white house sequence, a favorite of the team. To get that fluid shot, the team programmed the robot to move throughout the set and scan the surroundings, a process that took them 36 hours to complete. They then took that scan and ran it through simulation software that helped them to determine the logistics of the shot and plot out the trajectory of the camera. “That one shot consisted of something like 42 individual shots, all meshed together to look like one singular element,” says Chad. “We overlaid the pre-vis we did through the lens of the computer with the shot that came out of camera and they matched entirely, which was really cool.”
The team also took advantage of their VFX know-how to pull off more eye-catching shots, like the suspended car in the warehouse over JID and 21 Savage during 21’s verse — another team favorite. “It was a mix of in-camera effects and the work of our 3D artists,” Chad says. “We scanned the entire car and shared that with them to place, and the headlights that form a spotlight were created by layering effects in post over footage of actual units that we had up on a truss.” The resulting visual stands out among the rest, and sticks in your mind long after watching.
The video has been a favorite among fans and critics, earning itself viral status on Reddit for its feats of tech and a nomination for Best Cinematography at the Berlin Music Video Awards. For fans of JID, you might notice a handful of easter eggs while watching — a nod to other projects the Resolve team has worked on with JID like the video for “Never” and Earthgang’s “Mama Told Me”. “We’ve collaborated with him for a long time, so we wanted to work in a few callbacks,” says Mac. Between exciting effects and other surprises, the video as a whole is an immersive experience — perfect for a song called “Surround Sound”.
Watch the Surround Sound video below.