Vis­ual artistry

Bluman As­so­ciates dis­cuss us­ing Notch soft­ware to cre­ate vi­su­als for Emeli Sandé’s Real Life World Tour

3D World - - Contents -

How Bluman As­so­ciates tack­led the ef­fects for Emeli Sandé’s Real Life World Tour

Con­cert photograph­y shows the colour­ful and the­atri­cal de­signs that Bluman As­so­ciates cre­ated for the Real Life tour

Ac­claimed singer-song­writer Emeli Sandé re­cently em­barked on her Real Life World Tour, man­aged by Fruit Pie Mu­sic, and with vi­su­als from cre­ative tech­nol­o­gists Bluman As­so­ciates. Sandé and her band dreamt up some am­bi­tious ideas for the look of their stage show. Tour and pro­duc­tion man­ager Ku­mar Ka­malagha­ran of Fruit Pie turned to Pod Bluman, owner of Bluman As­so­ciates, to help ex­e­cute Sandé’s vi­sion.

“Pod Bluman never laughs me out of the park when I come to him with a grandiose brief and a non-grandiose budget,” says

Ka­malagha­ran. “We’re on the same wave­length and bounce ideas around until we nail a practical, af­ford­able and highly cre­ative solution.”

To suc­cess­fully de­liver the all-singing, all-danc­ing vi­su­als for the tour, the team at Bluman As­so­ciates opted for real-time graph­ics work­horse Notch. “We needed some­thing dy­namic, por­ta­ble and sim­ple for the tour­ing team to set up,” ex­plains Notch de­signer Kyle Re­seigh. “Notch was also cho­sen be­cause it very quickly al­lows us to support the team re­motely, while still of­fer­ing the wide range of looks we were aim­ing to achieve.”

Dis­cussing the ini­tial brief, Re­seigh adds that the team wanted a sys­tem that worked along­side Sandé’s performanc­e but could also be con­trolled via the light­ing de­signer and oper­a­tor. He con­tin­ues: “There was a run­ning theme of orange and the con­tent was bro­ken down into sec­tions with spe­cific vis­ual in­flu­ences for each song.”

Re­search and de­vel­op­ment in­volved a lot of googling on Re­seigh’s part. “The band was very clear about the feel of each song,” he adds, “which gave me a very strong start­ing point. Most of the ref­er­ences pro­vided came from soul, jazz and gospel mu­si­cians such as Al Green and Bil­lie Hol­i­day. Even the

clas­sic novel Wuther­ing Heights pro­vided some great in­spi­ra­tion on the vibe the band wanted to achieve.”

As well as re­search­ing var­i­ous ref­er­ences, Re­seigh was also fo­cused on match­ing his vi­su­als to the rhythm, tempo and swell of Sandé’s mu­sic. “With some songs I did work more lit­er­ally in terms of sym­bol­ism,” he ex­plains. “For ex­am­ple, dur­ing the song Be­neath Your Beau­ti­ful the screen splits into an above and be­low of kalei­do­scopic par­ti­cles. The idea be­ing that the above im­age is more beau­ti­ful, but es­sen­tially caused by the im­age be­low – metaphor­i­cally within, or un­der­neath.”

When it came to en­sur­ing that the con­cert vi­su­als worked seam­lessly in time with the mu­sic, Re­seigh used sup­plied BPMS for each track, plac­ing pa­ram­e­ters that would pulse to the beat and lend his pieces a more in­ter­twined re­la­tion­ship with the mu­sic. The over­ar­ch­ing in­flu­ence of African roots also proved help­ful in this re­gard. “We took a lot of in­spi­ra­tion from the move­ment of fire and the aes­thetic of pat­terns and sym­me­try,” Re­seigh ex­plains. “Thread­ing th­ese through songs al­lowed the style of move­ment to be­come seam­less and com­ple­men­tary to the mu­sic, as well as each other.”

Re­seigh worked closely with the tour’s light­ing de­signer, Chris Richard­son, who con­trolled the vis­ual as­pects. Richard­son was sent ren­ders to demon­strate the dy­nam­ics Re­seigh wanted to achieve. The pair would then meet at the re­hearsal space to pre­vi­su­alise the show, go­ing through each vis­ual, while lis­ten­ing to the tour­ing tracks the band had pro­vided. Re­seigh adds: “Us­ing Chris’ feed­back, I was able to con­nect to the Notch Block in Dis­guise and add new el­e­ments that he could con­trol to cre­ate more dy­namic de­vel­op­ments.”

Flex­i­bil­ity is key to pulling off a tour like this, as Ka­malagha­ran points out: “There


Kyle Re­seigh, Notch de­signer

are big chal­lenges when vis­it­ing 29 venues of vastly dif­fer­ent sizes, ages and fa­cil­i­ties. Think­ing on your feet and prob­lem-solv­ing lo­gis­ti­cally and aes­thet­i­cally is a daily duty.” It was here that Notch’s real-time ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­came in­valu­able.

“Be­ing able to build and show at the same time is ex­tremely use­ful when deal­ing with any client,” says Re­seigh, “es­pe­cially when there are many sep­a­rate el­e­ments to what you are mak­ing. It pro­vides the flex­i­bil­ity to en­able changes dur­ing pro­duc­tion, al­low­ing the en­tire work­flow to be much more lin­ear and in­ter­ac­tive for the de­signer.” Notch’s Gpu-based ren­der­ing en­gine also al­lowed for a quick turn­around on any vis­ual el­e­ment.

The ease of work­ing across the Notch and Dis­guise me­dia servers mit­i­gated the kinds of tech­ni­cal chal­lenges you might face on a project such as this. “Notch has a fea­ture that al­lows you to ‘ex­pose’ pa­ram­e­ters, which can then be changed dy­nam­i­cally within Dis­guise after you’ve im­ported the Notch Block,” Re­seigh ex­plains. “Once th­ese val­ues were in Dis­guise, we could link them up to any in­com­ing data, like Art­net, from the light­ing de­signer.”

Ar­tis­ti­cally, Re­seigh still en­coun­tered his fair share of chal­lenges on the project, and the sheer quan­tity of con­tent needed made it one of his largest to date. “Main­tain­ing pace and in­spi­ra­tion be­came a lot more im­por­tant for me,” he ad­mits. To man­age this, he made sure not to stay work­ing on one song for too long. He con­tin­ues: “If I couldn’t quite get what I wanted. I’d make a note of where I was at and move on to the next one. This helped me to avoid fa­tigue or burnout and gave me the breath­ing space to come up with a solution.”

Upon re­turn­ing to th­ese tricky vi­su­als, Re­seigh would play with Notch’s dy­namic, move­ment and post ef­fects, of­ten solv­ing his prob­lem with ease. He adds: “Be­cause of the real-time com­po­nent, I could sim­ply move the nodes to my other layer and get in­stant re­sults. Notch re­ally stream­lines cre­ative blocks on larger pro­duc­tions.”


Kyle Re­seigh be­gan us­ing Notch while at univer­sity, at­tracted by the pos­si­bil­i­ties for in­ter­ac­tive design and lack of ren­der­ing

The seam­less uni­fi­ca­tion of light­ing and video design was cru­cial to Fruit Pie Mu­sic’s brief on the tour Kyle Re­seigh has utilised Notch’s real-time ca­pa­bil­i­ties for a num­ber of other mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing projects with Dua Lipa and Aphex Twin

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