VFX for Lil Wayne - Don’t Cry ft. XXXTENTACION
This VFX breakdown lets the audience into one of the most challenging projects FRENDER’s team has participated in. It brought together Lil Wayne, a brilliant hip hop artist and one of the key personalities of Dirty South, Jay and Georgio Rodriguez, award-winning filmmakers, and Max Colt, a VMAs winner and visual effects artist leading FRENDER as its CEO. They joined the forces to craft a video for a new song, which made it to Tha Carter V studio album by the influential American rapper. The album was released in the fall of 2018 and topped the Billboard 200 while also receiving favorable reviews from critics.
“Don’t Cry” was doomed to attract much attention as it features XXXTentacion, a talented rapper from Florida, who was shot in a robbery at the age of 20 in June 2018. His vocals were recorded earlier that year, but the track hadn’t been finished by the time of his tragic death. Later, the material managed to get to the president of Lil Wayne’s label, who explained the story behind it to the iconic artist. XXXTentacion’s chorus happened to resonate with Wayne’s own spirits and inspired the latter to pay tribute to the late-rising star.
Obviously, the FRENDER VFX studio, along with the production team, got a challenging task to visually connect the stories of both artists and deliver the sensitive messages about love, life, and death raised in the lyrics.
To better understand the ideas behind the VFX before and after images below, we should dive into the verses made by the songwriters. XXXTentacion’s part is rather small yet passionate since he speaks about his love associated with pain caused either by the rapper himself or the girl he is attached to. He begs her not to cry, and he doesn’t want her going, which might refer to XXXTentacion’s troubled relations with her girlfriend.
In his turn, Wayne reflects on his life during the past difficult years, covering many issues like self-control and the sense of purpose, origins, and finding where he belongs, the god, and life being a struggle. His speaking about the afterlife, dying young, talent, and fame refers the audience not only to the rapper himself but also to the fate of his younger brethren. Wayne’s words “Tombstone reads: "Don’t cry, stay tuned"” clearly echo XXXTentacion’s hook. In the last refrain, Wayne pays tribute to XXXTentacion by saying: “Triple extension on my mother fuckin' afterlife, rest in paradise.”
Such emotional lyrics also touching the untimely end of the young talent required true mastery in delivering the mood and concepts from production and post-production teams.
Enhancing emotions through visual effects
Stunning VFX graphics bring a viewer into the mystic world of a desert with its slow march of time fitting the theme of reflection perfectly. The sands of time and shamanistic rituals create a meaningful atmosphere while communicating a connection to the afterlife and eternity. The visual effects like a peak clearly resembling a sundial’s gnomon with a light beam spiking into the sky by the end of the video emphasize the meaning. The music clip is filled with many other symbolic objects and scenes added with the help of CGI created by FRENDER during the VFX production stage. The most heart-pounding pieces featuring shots with XXXTentacion were incorporated throughout the chorus to pay last respects to the artist. FRENDER’s team did its best to accentuate the pace of the music and the messages put in the lyrics, which resulted in a cool and emotion-rich video.