Midweek Motivations: Katy Perry – Smile with Behind the Scenes

Katy Perry's Smile from Nathan Love

Katy Perry has a video for her song smile, which came out this summer. It features a lot of amazing 3D character animation of dancing clowns in a circus. The team shot and animated the video during the pandemic using a remote/cloud workflow. Be sure to check out some of the interviews, below, to learn more about how they completed such a feat, and in 6 weeks!

Artists behind the Katy Perry Smile video and Interviews

Smaile was directed by Matthew Cullen and London Alley, who is responsible for a lot of Katy’s videos including California Girls and Part of Me. Joe Burrascano of Nathan Love was the animation director on the video. He used a massive crew for the animation. Pedro Conti, the CG supervisor and artist on Smile, used Autodesk 3ds Max and Chaos Group V-Ray for 3ds Max.

Little Zoo Studio handled the animation direction, supervision, character animation previs, and layout. Hoody FX handled the VFX.

To see a full list of credits, see Stash Media.

The Video: Katy Perry – Smile

Nathan Love Instagram

There are so many great examples and information about the shots on Nathan Love’s Instagram. You can also follow Pedro Conti; Little Zoo Studio, animation; and Tim Probert, who did the artwork.


View this post on Instagram


And now for the climax of our film, the SPIDORA sequence! This is where #katyperry defeats the mega-boss and ultimately wins the game. A lot of thought, planning and trial-and-error went into this dramatic conclusion to make it as satisfying as possible. For LIGHTING, we discussed our favorite film noir and horror references, making sure our hero, despite being in distress, looked as beautiful as possible, and that our villain looked equally menacing and larger than life in contrast. Then, we worked to ensure that the two lighting scenarios would compliment each other when the characters were seen together. For DESIGN, it’s all in the details… From the specific, spiral construction of Spidora’s web to the layout of the set and Spidora herself, every decision was made to enhance the level of storytelling throughout each shot. Spidora was inspired by classic, side show attractions of the same name, as were her exaggerated proportions and menacing appeal. For Spidora’s RIG, we needed to make sure that she could not only throw multiple, sticky webs to catch her prey, but also wind them around her wrists as she reeled them in. Always the calm center of our storms, rigging supervisor Rijah Kazuo took on the challenge and delivered an elegant, animation-friendly solution. In ANIMATION, we used camera, staging, and performance to create as much drama as possible – creating suspense through timing and leaving our audience in the dark until the villain’s dramatic defeat. A lot of care and effort was made to choreograph Katy’s fall and capture within Spidora’s webs, and that attention to detail continued with Spidora’s winding arms as she slowly reeled in her prey. And of course in the EFFECTS department, no big moment is complete without the 11th hour help of our go-to effects guru, @joshclos With literally 2 days to work, Josh conjured an amazingly dramatic explosion that’s fit for the queen of pop – a dazzling display of sparkly confetti that transformed a scary scene into a celebration 🎉 #spidora #digitalsculpting #characterdesigner #filmnoir #horrorcinema #giantspider #disneyvillain #megaboss #bosslevel #houdinifx #animatedmusicvideo

A post shared by Nathan Love (@nathanloveofficial) on


View this post on Instagram


DANCE!⁣ ⁣ This sequence officially starts the second half of the film, which gets increasingly more dramatic leading up to Katy’s final confrontation with #Spidora. ⁣ ⁣ Before starting her big descent, Katy gets to enjoy a little Dance Bonus interlude with the clowns. ⁣ ⁣ Our biggest challenge here was choreographing the clowns so they could be silly and fun without being distracting and/or stealing the show from our star. On top of that our Director wanted each performance to be unique AND interact with the other clowns. ⁣ ⁣ The animation team at Little Zoo did an amazing job addressing a big request with little time, and managed to give each of the clowns a unique performance (with just a touch of weird) while synchronizing and choreographing them as a whole to compliment our hero. The clown in the front left is affectionately called, “Handsy” ⁣ #dancebish #jazzhands #dancemom #dancedancerevolution #dance #clownmemes #clownlove #clowndance #happyclowns #characteranimation #cganimation #katyperry #smilemusicvideo #animatedmusicvideo #nathanlove #anatomyofascene #handsy

A post shared by Nathan Love (@nathanloveofficial) on


View this post on Instagram


Something extraordinary happens when you create a space space for incredibly talented people and give them room to work and trust their instincts. ⁣ ⁣ Such was the case with our JACK IN THE BOX sequence, where each artist was given a basic direction to run with, loads of trust, and every single element that came back was PURE ART.⁣ ⁣ From the incredible lighting work of @pedrodtconti, to the strong, cinematic camerawork and animation of @littlezoostudio, and beautiful artwork of @timprobert, every artist built on each other’s work and combined to make a beautiful and memorable sequence. ⁣ #anatomyofascene #jackknthebox #sawbox #lightingart #cinematography #dramaticlighting #cgart #cgartist #characterdesign #productiondesign #cganimation #characteranination #sadclown #katyperry #smilemusicvideo #animatedmusicvideo #nathanlove

A post shared by Nathan Love (@nathanloveofficial) on


Katy Perry – Smile

Katy gives a behind the scenes tour of the video. This isn’t about the 3D animation, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Autodesk 3ds MaxAutodesk 3ds Max

Save 20% on New Subscriptions through December 2nd

3D modeling, animation, and rendering software for games and design visualization

3ds Max offers a rich and flexible toolset to create premium designs with full artistic control. Create massive worlds in games. Visualize high-quality architectural renderings. Model finely detailed interiors and objects. Bring characters and features to life with animation and VFX.

Learn More

Chaos V-Ray for 3ds Max - PerpetualChaos V-Ray for 3ds Max - Perpetual

Go beyond rendering

V-Ray for 3ds Max is a production-proven rendering software. Known for its versatility and ability to handle any type of project — from massive, dynamic scenes having thousands of lights to a sublime still life – it is the go-to solution for artists and designers across 3D industries.

Learn MoreTry Chaos V-Ray for 3ds Max - Perpetual for free!

In Depth: Why Should I Use V-Ray?

In Depth: Why Should I Use V-Ray?

V-Ray is a robust, full-featured 3D rendering system built for designers, architects, and jack-of-all-trades.

For many artists, when asked to describe working with V-Ray, the terms “high-quality, photo-realistic renders, and real-time speed” quickly come to mind. Artists say that it’s easy to dive in because it comes with so many preset materials and settings. They love how V-Ray comes with numerous options that allow users to customize pretty much every aspect of the lighting and materials. With this in mind, Chaos Group has extensive online training available, from beginner to advanced.

V-Ray is integrated into just about every piece of popular 3D creative software, including Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Nuke, MODO, Unreal, and more. Comparatively, no other renderer on the market has as much host support!

Learn more about what makes Chaos Group’s V-Ray unique, and why V-Ray is the renderer of choice for so many artists. Try it out yourself for free!

Read the Article

Share This Post

Subscribe to Toolfarm!

Get the latest updates on products, sales, tutorials, and freebies, delivered bi-weekly to your inbox!

Posted by Michele Yamazaki