Over the past several years, Israeli directors, producers and animation artists have taken part in the making of some of the most talked-about music videos in history.
From Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s iconic “Apes**t” video at the Louvre, to Coldplay’s Grammy-nominated video for “Up&Up,” many of the music industry’s top performers turn to Israel for show-stopping visual effects, animation and visual design.
“These projects can reduce the hurdles between people who are skeptical about working with Israelis,” Yaron Yashinski, founder of the VFX studio that worked on Coldplay’s “Hymn for the Weekend” video, told Billboard magazine.
“The talent is here in Israel, and we would love the support of the global community. If we can use art instead of politics, perhaps our future will shine, like Coldplay say, ‘A sky full of stars.’”
Here, take a look at seven Israeli-designed music videos that have made a mark on the industry.
- Beyoncé and Jay-Z: “Apes**t”
In a nonchalant Facebook post, Israeli producer Natan Schottenfels recently revealed that he produced Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s viral video filmed at the Louvre and released in June.
As the first music video from the couple’s recently dropped first joint album, Everything Is Love, the clip instantly made waves on the Internet, racking up 18 million views in its first three days.
In the video, Beyoncé and Jay-Z – known as “the Carters” – pose in front of iconic art pieces like the Mona Lisa, Nike von Samothrake and the Great Sphinx of Tanis. A spokesperson from the Louvre said the couple explained their idea of filming during a visit in May.
“The deadlines were very tight but the Louvre was quickly convinced because the synopsis showed a real attachment to the museum and its beloved artworks,” the museum said in a statement.
Schottenfels was nominated for a Grammy in 2017 together with Vania Heymann for their work on Coldplay’s “Up&Up” music video. They work for Iconoclast, a French-owned video production company in Paris and Los Angeles, for which the Carters clip was made.
- U2: “Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way”
As frequent U2 collaborators, Broken Fingaz, the renowned Israeli street-art collective from Haifa, has worked on three music videos for the band over the past year. Their latest collaboration is a music video for the Beck remix of “Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way” from U2’s album Songs of Experience.
“We used two animation techniques we never tried before; the classic animation is made up of 1,200 acrylic paintings and for the stop-motion we teamed up with the amazing ZAZ animation studio to create a world from plasticine,” Broken Fingaz said.
The group also made headlines this year for its work on U2’s “American Soul” video, created in just seven days, and its politically charged video for the band’s single “Get Out of Your Own Way.”
Here Broken Fingaz shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Love is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way.”
- Coldplay: “Up&Up”
Israeli directors Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia won international praise for their music video for Coldplay’s “Up&Up,” a hit single from the British band’s 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams.
Called “one of the best videos people have made” by Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin, the video quickly went viral upon its release in May 2016, with over 3 million views on YouTube within one day.
The dreamlike imagery turns seemingly ordinary activities and images into the extraordinary – from synchronized swimmers in tea cups to skydivers jumping into a bowl of pasta.
The mesmerizing montage of creative composites won several awards including Best Visual Effects at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, a Webby award for Best Music Video and a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Music Video.
Heymann, a graduate of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, has been tied to some of the most creative videos in the past few years including the interactive music video for the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone” and the Heavy Bubbles prank video for SodaStream. He now lives in New York.
Muggia, who lives in Tel Aviv, has made clips for musicians such as Ester Rada, Dudu Tassa and Cohen@Mushon.
- Oren Lavie: “Second Hand Lovers”
After the success of his music video for “Her Morning Elegance” in 2009, which earned him a Grammy nomination and over 33 million views on YouTube, Israeli singer-songwriter Oren Lavie continues to earn praise for his mesmerizing, self-directed videos.
His video for “Second Hand Lovers,” the second single from his sophomore album Bedroom Crimes, this year won the SXSW Music Video Jury Award, Best Concept at the Berlin Music Video Awards, and most recently the Young Director Award at Cannes.
The Tel Aviv-born musician, songwriter, children’s book author, theater and video director wrote the video script, directed it, and plays the main role alongside Israeli actress Daniella Wircer and 10 female dancers. The dancers in the video portray all of Lavie’s ex-lovers, who are always with him despite a new love moving into his life and apartment.
- Coldplay: “Hymn for the Weekend”
Coldplay tapped the team at Tel Aviv’s Yaron Yashinski Studio to create visual design and animation for the band’s “Hymn for the Weekend” music video featuring Beyoncé, which attracted 18 million views in two days.
Though the video was filmed in Mumbai, India, all of its design, animation and visual elements were created during a three-month period in Israel by an eight-person team. Former animator Yaron Yashinski received the commission to work on the video with his Los Angeles-based Israeli partner Uzi Mor. They’ve also worked together on videos for the Black Eyed Peas and the Kardashians.
“The biggest achievement that this video has for the Israeli local industry is the fact that it’s been made here,” Yashinski told Billboard magazine.
- Lady Gaga: 2016 Grammy tribute to David Bowie
Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie at the 2016 Grammy Awards was made possible by Israeli-developed RealSense vision technologies, built in Intel’s Haifa offices.
During the live performance, holography, robotics and 3D vision technologies were used to transform Lady Gaga’s face in real-time, reflecting various phases of Bowie’s career. It was the first time these technologies were used in a live performance.
RealSense technology, exhibited at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, meshes a 1080p HD camera, an infrared camera and an infrared laser projector into one product.
In a “making of” video, Lady Gaga said: “I’m always searching for new ways to create the impossible. So, on music’s biggest night I wanted to inspire the world using music and technology in a performance unlike anything we’ve witnessed before.”
- Jane Bordeaux: “Ma’agalim”
Israeli folk band Jane Bordeaux quickly won over the Internet in 2016 with its visually captivating music video for the song “Ma’agalim” (Cycles). With 1.8 million views on Vimeo and close to 1 million on YouTube, the fact that the song is sung entirely in Hebrew doesn’t seem to deter people all over the world from admiring the video’s clever animation.
Set inside a rotating old penny arcade, the video explores the concept of cycles. A wooden doll is stuck in place and time while the world around her changes and passes by. Finally the clockwork behind the scenes comes to a breaking point, sending the doll and all of the characters into a new dimension.
The video was directed by Uri Lotan, who has worked on projects with Sony Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios. Effects were produced at Tel Aviv’s Phenomena Labs.