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Creative Group and Mantra Design Deliver the Message for Fuse’s Jay-Z 9/11 Special

New York, NY – Creative Group, the industry’s premier full-service post-production facility, and Mantra Design, an award-winning creative content design and visual effects boutique, have transformed Jay-Z’s renowned “Answer the Callâ€? 9/11 benefit concert into a stirring hour-long special airing on the Fuse music network.  Together, the two studios delivered a complete post package for “Fuse Presents Jay-Z Live from Madison Square Garden: Answer the Call,â€? including video editing, audio mixing and 3D graphics.

Mantra Design got the ball rolling on the project when it created the on-air identity for Fuse Presents, a concert series showcasing top musical acts such as the Jay-Z concert, a benefit show for the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund that took place September 11 of this year. For the series, Fuse sought a look that would transport the at-home viewer directly into the concert experience. “The mandate was to create something that was epic, cinematic, timeless and signature to this series,” says Mantra Executive Producer Casey Steele.

Mantra delivered on this directive with a graphics package depicting a gradual approach to a massive concert stadium. The stadium is completely covered with windows, which alternately depict the name Fuse and photos of the artist from whatever concert is being highlighted.  Mantra created the graphics using a combination of Autodesk’s Maya 3D software and Adobe After Effects.

As the Mantra team put the final touches on Fuse Presents, Creative Group’s editing team for the project, comprising editors Mari Keiko Gonzalez and Mike Levine, got down to work, first delivering a cold open to accompany the broadcast of the concert Fuse aired live on September 11, then doing some minor edits on a two-hour commercial broadcast of the concert aired by Fuse on Sunday, September 13.  As the concert ended on the evening of Friday, September 11, the edit for the two-hour version required an extremely tight turnaround; Gonzalez and Levine started editing Saturday morning, and outputted the edited version to Fuse around 3 a.m. on Sunday.

The main story for Creative Group, however, was the one-hour version of the concert for the Fuse Presents series, which premiered on Saturday, September 19.  A moving medley of performances from the concert, archival footage of September 11, 2001 and interviews of 9/11 first responders talking on-site at Ground Zero, the concert special is intended to provoke the same sense of New York pride, honor and belonging for the at-home viewer as was experienced by those at the actual concert.

“Working on the one-hour version of the concert really gave us the opportunity to tell a story, as we had more time to be creative with it,” recalls Gonzalez. “In the concert, Jay-Z really references New York and what it’s like to be a New Yorker – he conveys this sense of history in the city; this pride in being from the city. We wanted to establish that connection visually for the viewers.”

According to Gonzalez, she and her team accomplished this primarily by re-editing each song visually to highlight the connection between Jay-Z and the MSG audience.  Roughly 10 cameras had been used to capture the live performance, giving Gonzalez and her team plenty of footage to work with, including shots of Jay-Z’s moment of silence for those lost on 9/11, concertgoers rapping along with the artist and shots depicting the exhilarated crowd from the vantage point of the performers on stage.

Rounding out the visual elements of “Fuse Presents Jay-Z Live from Madison Square Garden: Answer the Callâ€? was an audio mix and sound design performed by Sue Pelino, Creative Group’s VP of audio post production and senior mixer.  Working with a music remix provided by Jim Caruana, Pelino and her assistant, Rebecca Chandler, imported the stems of the separate stereo vocals, band, background vocals and audience near and far. They then conformed it to Gonzalez’s final video cut of the one-hour version and started the post-audio remix, which took two days. Ultimately, Pelino and Chandler delivered a stereo and 5.1 mix for Fuse, which aired the show in HD.

All of the proceeds and merchandising from Jay-Z’s concert were donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund.

About Creative Group

Creative Group is a leading, full-service post production facility specializing in nonlinear, linear and HD editing compositing, visual effects, color correction, digital intermediates, DVD duplication and sound design/5.1 audio post mixing for the broadcast, film and DVD markets.  The New York City-based Creative Group first opened its doors in 1993 with an imaginative and award-winning team of artists.  The company has since expanded its industry presence to include Mantra, its Manhattan-based design and visual effects boutique, as well as its Bristol, CT location.  The company has grown internationally, as well, to include a facility overseas in Shanghai.  Working with such high profile clients as The Walt Disney Company, General Electric, Viacom, Time Warner, Paramount, NBC Universal and Momentum, Creative Group prides itself in its mission to offer an all-inclusive hub for value-added creative services.  This affords clients the ability to differentiate themselves in today’s cluttered multimedia environment.

About Mantra

Mantra is an award winning creative content design and production studio specializing in creating media for broadcast, commercial, event, retail, digital signage and installations. Located in New York City’s Flatiron District, Mantra’s talented team of designers and VFX artists are behind some of today’s most visually compelling broadcast and event design offerings including the 2008 Grammy Awards Show, the MTV Video Music Awards, and various show packages.  Founded by Creative Group in 2007, it offers motion design, visual effects, creative editorial, event design and production for its clients, many of which are among the world’s best known brands, including CBS, ESPN, CNN, Saatchi & Saatchi, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, The History Channel, and the USA Network.

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