Director Russell Sanzgiri Dissects Kanye West-Directed 'Paris' Video


By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Everyone is talking about Jay-Z and Kanye West's "N----s In Paris" music video. The Kanye-helmed visual recreates the psychedelic, hyper-sensory experience of the Watch the Throne tour, taking a bulk of footage from their Los Angeles shows and coupling it with dazzling onstage imagery, strobes and live audience reactions. The result: a pulsating, kaleidoscopic and possibly seizure-inducing good time. RapFix spoke to L.A. filmmaker Russell Sanzgiri, who worked with Ye' on the Spike Jonze mini flick "We Were Once A Fairytale," and also to break down the eye-catching visuals from a director's perspective.

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The images beginning in concentric circles and then repeated over and over in different patterns is based in a general style called fractals. "The main technique used in the video is Split screen. They really just took an image and mirrored it on the other side of the frame and made really interesting choices in the edits of the camera moves," Sanzgiri says. He adds that there was probably an immense amount of footage that had to be sifted through before arriving at the final cut. Although the basic technique itself isn't new or even that difficult for most editors, the level of expertise seen in "N--as In Paris" shows an exceptional artistic eye at work.

"This was painstakingly edited and it goes well to the beat too, so they took their time with this...I think to make a video as interesting and as fun as this, they had to love it," Sanzgiri says.

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This is no surprise, since Kanye has always been lauded for having a unique creative perspective. "He's very specific. He really knows what he wants out of something and knows what he doesn't like," Sanzgiri remembers from working with the superstar on We Were Once A Fairytale. Kanye was extremely hands-on when it came to how his image was portrayed during that project. The consummate Renaissance man, he drew inspirations from a myriad of sources. Says Sanzgiri, "Kanye is pretty well-versed in modern art and design, architecture and visual artists as well as musical artists and filmmakers," and that has definitely shaped his keen eye.