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Screenshot from Kanye West's Black Skinhead video, for which Speech Graphics supplied facial animation.

Black Skinhead Music Video

“Black Skinhead” is the first single released off of hip-hop artist Kanye West’s 2013 #1 album Yeezus. West produced the music video with photographer Nick Knight, and Speech Graphics was called upon to provide facial animation synchronizing a virtual Kanye West’s face with the entire 3-minute track. The video was produced in collaboration with Prettybird and Mimic Productions. Watch the video on YouTube. Read more.


Def Jam Recordings

Our Task

The the three-minute song is absolutely packed with lyrics and the singing is intensely expressive, and the client had very little time. They required a solution that could produce the facial animation in a matter of days. Speech Graphics was the perfect choice to solve this urgent problem. We received the work order on a Friday and delivered the following Tuesday, giving the client’s animation team sufficient time to integrate our animation into the final music video.

Production Stages

  1. Facial model setup

    We received a newly scanned and rigged 3D model of Kanye West’s head, which we had to drive with our technology. The model presented some challenges, including making Kanye’s face move naturally over the famous gold and diamond grill on his upper teeth, which was part of the facial model.

  2. Animation production

    To generate the animation, we had to make sure our procedural muscle-dynamic model could correctly simulate the motions of rapping/singing, as opposed to normal speech. With minor adjustments to our style parameters the desired effect was achieved.

  3. Integration

    Our animation of the rap was integrated with work from other contributors to the project, including motion capture.