Craft: Basement Jaxx - Video

Traktor has achieved the impossible in this creepy tale of human experimentation. But as we reveal, they certainly put the effects guys through their paces.

Traktor are famous for their subversive humour in commercials, but it seems that promos are the perfect outlet for the group's warped imagination.

Their latest offering is for Basement Jaxx's Where's Your Head At?, a dark and frightening tale of evil monkeys and mad scientists.

The promo opens on an A&R man who visits a crazy scientist in the hope of discovering the stars of tomorrow. He's given a puppet demonstration and when he proves suitably unimpressed, he is led to see the real thing.

Ensconced in an observation booth, the wild beasts are released and proceed to perform - their actions becoming increasingly aggressive, as the song builds. Biting into records, trashing their guitars, baring their teeth, the Gallagher brothers have nothing on this lot.

The A&R man flees and then discovers the truth, the monkeys are the result of human experimentation - and his number's up.

Traktor succeeds in drawing viewers in, amusing and entertaining them, then suddenly twisting the tale, abandoning comedy in favour of terror.

The washed-out blues, the stark environment (a mental hospital in Prague) and clever casting particularly in terms of the egg-head scientist, all contrive to make this a cold, clinical, alien world where Frankenstein-like experiments feasibly take place.

The idea is great but what makes this a truly outstanding video is its effects.

In true Traktor-style, the boundaries have been pushed. "It can't be done" doesn't seem to register, perhaps on account of the Swedish team's loose grip on the English language.

"Everyone said it couldn't be done," says Alex Lovejoy, one of the post-production team at the Moving Picture Company, "But we proved them wrong."

It was a painstaking three-month job, however, as our feature reveals.

A number of options were discussed, including going into 3D and recreating the heads with the band members' faces and hair and then modelling them on to the monkeys that were shot.

This was abandoned, not only because of the time span involved, but because the idea was to create something realistic rather than something CGI heavy.

Therefore, it was decided to shoot the monkeys first and then use the material as reference for the band who would mimic their actions in bluescreen, to be followed by modelling.

Confidence remained low however, with many sceptics still saying it couldn't be done and the shoot proved to be a nightmare.

"The monkeys were vile and vicious, they would bite, snap and defecate on each other. They really stank. We also had mental patients from the hospital wandering on set," says the video's commissioner, John Hassay.

Once the footage was obtained, a cut was made by Final Cut and played on a monitor to the band in a bluescreen studio. This was a gruelling 20-hour day in which the band had to match the monkey movements. They were often held in a vice-like grip around the neck by the ever-cruel Traktor team.

This footage was brought into the Inferno suite and using a process of stabilisation, warping, morphing and tracking, their heads were mapped onto the monkey heads.

All kind of problems arose at this stage, and as Lovejoy reveals, the team had to be inventive to make it work.

"It was a big job, they don't get much bigger. But we proved it could be done."

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