MOD Begins 2019 on a High
Boutique VFX studio shifts into expansion mode as two recent music video projects earn Grammy nominations.
MOD is firing on all cylinders. The boutique visual effects studio has moved into a spacious, new, bungalow-style facility and two of its recent projects, the Travis Scott video Sicko Mode and Jay Rock’s Win¸ have earned Grammy nominations for their music. With several high-profile advertising and music projects currently in-house, Les Umberger, the studio’s creative director and visual effects supervisor, expects the momentum to carry through to 2019 and beyond, translating into further growth and more ground breaking work.
“We’re bidding against the largest, most established visual effects studios, backed by large corporate machines,” Umberger says. “It’s because the work we produce is aesthetically unique. The passion at MOD is palpable, unlike the cookie cutter approach of larger shops. Clients also like the boutique experience. There aren’t layers of management and bureaucracy separating them from the artists. Clients work directly with the people driving the creative post-production process.”
MOD collaborated with director Dave Meyers on Sicko Mode, which has earned Grammy nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, and garnered more than 100 million views across social channels. The studio produced more than 200 visual effects shots for the clip, ranging from colorfully stylized renderings of Houston streets to a mosaic of Drake’s face that splinters as he sings.
Jay Rock’s Win was also directed by Meyers and it, too, received a Grammy nomination in the Best Rap Song category. For it, Umberger shot slow motion images of pyrotechnics and acrobats performing backflips that his team of artists composited into a series of monochromatic landscapes.
Umberger, who has been a top visual effects and post-production artist for more than 20 years, formed MOD to take on projects with unusual creative needs. The company has a flexible business model that allows it to expand or contract on a dime, bringing on artists with sensibilities and skill sets tailored to the individual project. That formula has worked so well, that Umberger was obliged to move to larger quarters.
“We leased a 1940s-vintage bungalow,” Umberger explains. “It provides the space we need and gives us a certain anonymity. As we work with many top commercial clients and a lot of unreleased music, that is important. It also feels like a home…like you’re hanging out a friend’s house. People who drive by have no idea of the amount of pop culture that’s being created inside.”
Travis Scott: Sicko Mode
Jay Rock: Win
About: Les Umberger
About: Dave Meyers