HOUSE OF RED
Welcome to The House of Red
Building on their longstanding relationship, the Target creative team and Mirada partnered once more to bring their iconic vision for House of Red to life.
Mirada co-founder and director Mathew Cullen collaborated closely with Target’s creative team – setting out to develop a campaign where best-selling artists launch Target-specific versions of their new albums with exclusive tracks; as Jon Baugh, Creative Manager at Target's inHouse Creative Studio put it:
“Mathew is a great storyteller brimming with brightness, and once we planted the seed, he was excited about the concept potential. The Target inHouse creative team flew out for a meeting to riff on ideas for this campaign, and what we love about the Mirada squad is they bring such a great collective of smart thinkers along for the ride – writers, designers, technologists, and visual effects artists. A lot of ideas that came out of that first mind meld ended up in the final spots. We developed the framework for this Target-themed space where artists can perform and dwell – and Mathew and team took it to a whole new level that not only incorporated the Target aesthetic, but was mindful of tailoring each spot concept to authentically match the artist’s personas, style, and song.”
The first in the House of Red music video “trilogy” belongs to Taylor Swift and her single Red.
The passage to Taylor’s room in the House of Red is made through a crisp, saturated hallway—full of modern, inventive architecture with accents of Target charm—as the camera pushes forward like an excited visitor running late for an engagement…
Once inside, we find Taylor Swift entering a white-walled foyer – tugging at a loose strip of wallpaper that unfurls into a bright red ribbon and carries her into a large white room. She pulls a curtain aside revealing towering windows. And with each graceful step Taylor takes, she brings life, energy, and beauty into her environment—revealing new colors and textures—curling, folding, and rolling her imprint in natural red dots and lines. Her performance transforms the pristine space, bathing its initial white visual motif in vibrant red, across red silk walls and swirling ribbon bands—playing off the song’s title and Target’s iconic color palette—deconstructing beauty in the world around her, and making it her own.
In capturing the elegant red ribbon fabric motif, Mirada artists strived for grace, beauty, and lyrical enchantment on a grand scale to match the meticulous art direction of the piece. The team developed an inventive cloth workflow that could allow for fast iterations; this allowed them to build simulations that were highly controllable as they blended CG cloth into plates with live-action photography of fabric. Then, once an ideal balance of the two was reached—idealized free-flowing CG fabric, and richly textured practical cloth—artists seamlessly extracted Taylor from footage, and composited her into rebuilt backgrounds consisting of projected matte paintings and CG set extensions.
In the next chapter of The House of Red, we move through the hall as sleek, dazzling practical arrays of neon light guide us to No Doubt’s door...
Once we pass inside, we discover a vibrant hyperreal space that could only belong to No Doubt: electric street chic. We open with Gwen leading us down the floating steps of an abstracted 3D neon house. As she descends, each stair lights up à la “Billie Jean,” and as she takes her last step, she hops into the backseat of a “neon-drawn” convertible with Tony, Adrian, and Tom. Then, referencing classic images of The Clash in and around a convertible, No Doubt goes on a neon-fueled road trip to catch the sun—and the audience is taken along for the ride, traveling fluidly through a classic nightlife cityscape in a neon-soaked visual odyssey—witnessing musical light-vector poetry emerge out of electric, multicolored, practical neon animation and design.
In conceiving the look for No Doubt’s vibrant odyssey, the team envisioned a dynamic, sweeping nighttime ride – a glowing roller coaster POV through various incredibly designed and distinct neon neighborhoods at night. What appear at first to be 2D neon forms and buildings ultimately dimensionalize into 3D practical objects, skyscraper furniture, freeway carpets, and hot red neon rings in a beautifully integrated way that mimics the line art of the album cover.
The final spot in Mathew Cullen and Target’s music video-inspired campaign features Pink.
The video begins—much like the other two—by passing through a distinctly designed hallway, evoking the constellations, as audiences are led into the world of Pink’s music, where bright white light spills from under the door.
Inside, Pink invites us into a magnetizing circular spectacle—a celestial solar system of metallic spheres—with an irresistible musical gravitational pull that draws us into her gleaming rock and roll orbit. Brilliant white light beams down from a chandelier – highlighting Pink as the center of gravity which gathering chrome-astral bodies orbit. Throughout, Pink’s performance, styling, and lighting scheme follow this powerful, luminous cosmic aesthetic. And as her performance intensifies, the kinetic globe cluster dissipates and reconfigures – while red highlights rise from the dark surroundings and reflect across chrome surfaces, transforming them into brilliant red dots-in-motion: a Target Big Bang.
In bringing this cosmic rock and roll ballet to life, a highly stylized set was created and populated with dozens of large reflective orbs – rigged to ascend in a helical pattern predetermined by previz. During the editorial process, Cullen encouraged the team to push beyond the in-camera foundation and populate the environment with CG orbs that were free to move in ways earthbound elements never could – focusing, in particular, on the behavior and movement to complement and enhance the live-action counterparts.
To achieve this, Mirada artists developed a unique methodology to control the hundreds of spheres and direct them to roll over surfaces and form structures. Likewise, the team opened up the environment beyond what was practically built. This entailed removing Pink from the background and recompositing her—in every shot—into the extended structure via creative roto and keying techniques in Flame. Having thousands of reflective spheres that shifted to transparent energy orbs required vigilance in keeping shaders optimized, so render times—which grew as high as ten hours a frame—remained on schedule. Ultimately this elaborate-yet-innovative approach allowed the freedom to capture inspired compositions and create elegant celestial arrangements that framed Pink perfectly – so every moment radiated with synchronized visual and musical magic.
A Perfect Partnership, Branding the Brand of all Brands
Mirada's relationship with Target has been a long-running, remarkably fruitful creative journey...
A BETTER BULLSEYE
When Target made the decision to remodel their stores to include grocery sections, they turned to Mirada to help incorporate this mass influx of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, etc., into their brand, literally – into their "Bullseye."
The creative teams from Target and Mirada worked together to craft a vibrant, busy-at-work visual metaphor for this new filling of the shelves – one that would have the fun personality and exhilarating style of a great feature-length animated film.
The piece opens on a monolithic Target Bullseye, surrounded by a crew of tiny (in comparison) animated workers, and stockpiles of fresh produce. The foreman presses an activation button, and the amazing spectacle begins: the front face of the bullseye opens like a giant vault door, and his crew immediately goes to work, filling the massive compartments and shipping-and-receiving platforms inside the bullseye – collaborating in clever, outlandish ways: catapulting fruit up into the platforms above; moving the groceries up inside on bike-powered conveyor belts; rappelling down the giant bullseye on ropes; helicoptering in pallets of produce; and hoisting the food into the structure on cranes. The crew operates with ridiculously efficient teamwork, stocking the enormous bullseye until it's packed full with freshness. When they're finished with their mammoth task, the bullseye door shuts again, and the crew disperses, leaving the solitary iconic Target brand/symbol with a bazillion more great things now inside it.
Chris Riehl led Mirada's team of animators and artists through a rigorous process of character and story development to create a wide variety of charming, hyperreal workers with distinct personalities and skills, all of them decked out in different Target-branded uniforms and nifty gadgets. The camera movement was carefully crafted to take us from vertigo-inducing high angles and sweeping helicopter shots—that show the scale of the entire operation—to epic ground-level low angles that accentuate the size of the towering bullseye.
Target and Mirada teamed up again to create a playful but heartfelt appeal to parents, urging them to take a "Pledge" to read with their kids. Inspired by the visual language of children’s books, the I Will project set out to encourage this initiative with a magically enhanced vignette of a father reading to his daughter.
With Chris Riehl again at the helm, the Mirada team created a "living storybook" whose pages revealed animated representations of key stages in a child’s life, from early childhood to high school graduation, seamlessly melding the live-action with the animation. As the father holds the book, the girl turns the pages, and each page shows her, literally, in the story, as the protagonist – her actual face playfully integrated into the animated 3D illustrations themselves. We see her as a seashore crab, then as a knight battling dragons; as she grows, she becomes a star dancer in a talent show, and then, on the last page, she beams in a graduation cap and gown, waving her diploma.
The team crafted an evolving visual language that reflected different, maturing, age sensibilities, with each new page showing a distinctive stylistic progression. The girl’s early years/pages, for example, used simple color blocking and a more cartoony aesthetic; then as she gets older, shots become more complex, integrating high-end CG with beautiful, realistic, cinematic lighting and shadow details.
Riehl also designed a unique dimensional perspective technique with sophisticated virtual handheld camera moves that seem to look into the book's scenes—into its pages' "windows"—connecting the real world to that of the girl’s story. Achieving this dimensional synergy required extensive R&D, including building special prop books that could be shot to obtain authentic tracking data. The shots were then refined repeatedly, to strike the perfect balance of playfulness, technical precision, and engaged storytelling – to make this magic window into a child's imagination a reality.