U2 Vertigo effects filmed in Spain

U2’s music video, Vertigo, caught the attention of viewers with its special vertigo effects, smoke, and an gyrating ampitheater. Vertigo begins with the band in the middle of a large target-shaped amphitheater. As Bono counts the band into Vertigo, a dust storm appears to engulf the set. Each of the members of the band develops a smoke trail. The smoke clears as Bono begins the lyrics but the effects continue. Rings of smoke pour out of the ground. The layers of gravel become vertical layers of concrete, moving up and down to create the vertigo effec

U2 on set in Vertigo video

Click on the image below to play the U2 Vertigo music video.


Vertigo was shot in 2004 at ‘ Punta Del Fangar ‘ in the Ebro delta on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Filming was directed by Alex & Martin, the working name of French directors Martin Fougerol and Alexandre Courtes, Partizan Entertainment, working with producer Grace Bodie, production manager Johnny Wardle, and director of photography Omer Ganai, 1st assistant director Ben Gill and art director Dan Betteridge.

Vertigo was edited by Joe Guest at Final Cut. Offline editing was done at Medialabs.

Post production was done at BUF Compagnie, by Flame artists Jonathan Lagache and Françis Polvé and VFX supervisor Jam Abelanet.

U2 with Vertigo effect

A useful source of background on the filming and production of the Vertigo music video is a May 2005 interview by Sharon Kennedy and Iain Blair, featuring Alex & Martin and Jam Abelanet.

Alex & Martin and team built a mini-studio in the middle of the desert for close-ups and lighting effects. At first the plan was to construct the ‘target’ out of concrete, but due to environmental factors they chose to build with different colours of gravel.

Abelanet explains that the vertigo effect, in which the ground separated in different circles, was developed with a special algorithm using scripting language. Thirteen graphic artists worked with two Flame artists to produce the smoke effects, including color correction, rotoscoping and camera matching. Software was developed for camera matching, comp software and 2D effect (bcolor), 3D software (Bstudio) and scripting language (db2)].

U2 Vertigo won a Grammy award in 2005, and was nominated for Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Direction in a Video, Best Special Effects, Best Cinematography at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards.

See the Vertigo music video, along with documentary on its making, on the U2 18 Music Videos DVD.

U2 with smoke effect

Lyrics for Vertigo

Unos, dos, tres, catorce [1,2,3,14]

Turn it up loud, captain!

Lights go down
It’s dark
The jungle is your head
Can’t rule your heart
I’m feeling so much stronger
Than I thought
Your eyes are wide
And though your soul
it can’t be bought
your mind can wander

Hello, Hello
Hola! [Spanish for Hello]
I’m at a place called vertigo (¿Dónde está?) [Where is it?]
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
Except you give me something I can feel

Buy the U218 DVD online at Amazon.comThe night is full of holes
Those bullets rip the sky
Of ink with gold
They twinkle as the boys play rock and roll
They know that they can’t dance
At least they know

I can sell the beat
I’m askin’ for the cheque
Girl with crimson nails
Has Jesus ’round the neck
Swinging to the music
Swinging to the music

Hello, Hello
I’m at a place called Vertigo (¿Dónde está?) [Where is it?]
It’s everything I wish I didn’t know
But you give me something I can feel

Check mated
Oh yeah
Hours of fun…

All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
All of this, all of this can be yours
Just give me what I want and no-one gets hurt

Hello, Hello
I’m at a place called Vertigo
Lights go down and all I know
Is that you give me something I can feel
You’re teaching me …aaahhh
Your love is teaching me how
How to kneel

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah…
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!