Studio Smack creates dancing army for De Staat's Witch Doctor

Studio Smack creates army of dancing men for De Staat's Witch Doctor music video

Music: Religious rituals and 90s dance movements inspired the thousands of dancing men in De Staat's Witch Doctor music video (+ movie).

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

Studio Smack, the Dutch production team behind the video, worked alongside director Floris Kaayk and the Dutch band's lead singer Torre Florim to develop a set of visuals that reflect the themes in the song.

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

"We decided to use the song Witch Doctor because that's the most powerful and interesting song for a music video," Kaayk told Dezeen. "Torre had some very clear ideas about minimalism and religious inspirations."

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

With this in mind, the team centred the track around a central figure dressed in a suit – played by Florim – who appears to be controlling a large group of followers.

As the boss-like character moves and gestures, the bald, topless men around him move in a synchronised fashion and dance in a way that is reminiscent of 90s hardcore Gabber dancers.

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

"We wanted to create an image that had both the Gabber feel and elements of religious rituals, like the Kecak dance and Sufi circles," said Kaayk.

"We wanted to present [Florim] as a demagogue, so we analysed films like The Wolf of Wall Street to get the right gestures and body language."

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

All gestures were created using a motion capture suit – a tight, Lycra one-piece with markers that track and record movements.

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

This was then translated into crowd simulation software before lighting from the live shoot was matched with Element 3D – a plugin for Adobe After Effects. The whole process took more than half a year from start to finish.

De Staat Witch Doctor by Studio Smack

Dutch visual artist Kaayk and Studio Smack previously collaborated on Rayfish Footwear, a project that created a fictional company that purported to be making sneakers from bio-engineered stingray skin.

Widely published on the internet, including on Dezeen, the spoof project was designed to trigger discussion about emerging biotechnologies.

Witch Doctor is out now on Cool Green Recordings and is available to purchase through iTunes.