Coldplay’s shows are famous for their spectacle, grand scale and innovation, and the ‘Music of the Spheres’ world tour was no exception. FRAY Studio used all our expertise, and our comprehensive design and real-time visuals toolkit, to make the show’s video production match the band’s ambition, in collaboration with the show’s creative team.
‘iMag’ (Image MAGnification) live video is often utilised as a way of bringing the audiences closer to performers in large-scale concerts. It is mostly used to display medium and close-up shots and to focus on details of the show. For the ‘Music of the Spheres’ stadium tour iMag footage played a central role as it was constantly displayed on some or all of the show’s eight LED screens, and for some numbers it was the only imagery they displayed.
iMag Effects Brought To the Next Level
Using Notch software, FRAY Studio created a variety of unique grades and looks for each song of the setlist. We also produced dynamic real-time visual effects that worked with the narrative arc of the show and added elements of stylized hyper-realism to the multi-camera feed of the band. These techniques created the colourful, prismatic, trail effects of ‘Paradise’ and ‘Sky Full of Stars’, the motion-generated particles of ‘Biutyful’, the gritty audio-reactive video distortions of ‘People Of The Pride’, the psychedelic, rainbow colour effects of ‘Charlie Brown’ as well as the live recording capture and reverse playback of the band and the audience in ‘The Scientist’ (a nod to the original music video) and other unique effects.
Over 30 iMAG looks and/or real-time effects were created by FRAY for the show. We also worked to implement the technical workflow for compositing rendered content and the live video feed together in sophisticated ways. FRAY also streamlined the Notch technical workflow, allowing for iMAG and video output to be displayed correctly even on screens with very different resolutions, depending on the geometry of the LED surfaces. This was particularly required with the many sphere-shaped LED screens and was achieved by incorporating Notch’s UV camera capabilities into a content/pixel map that was then transferred into Disguise.
Biutyful: The Show’s Closing Visuals
FRAY Studio’s content bookmarked the show, providing visuals for both the opening moments of the show with ‘Incoming Transmission’ and for the closing number ‘Biuytful. For ‘Biutyful’ the world of ‘Flora’ was created and animated using the powerful tools of Unreal Engine. This allowed us to quickly realise a sophisticated, stylised look with near photo-realistic finishing. The art direction and narrative of the visuals explored the corners of planet ‘Flora’, showing the swift, magical blossoming of its alien plants and flowers and alluding to the power of nature on our own planet. The importance of the natural world was a central theme of The Music of the Spheres World Tour as Coldplay aimed to raise awareness of environmental issues and make the tour as eco-friendly as possible.
Dance Party: An Energy Emitting Interactive Game
One of the ways that the tour looked to raise awareness of sustainability was through the incorporation of two kinetic dance floors. These were operated using pressure-sensitive tiles that generated energy when they were stepped or danced on. In the hours before the concert began audience members were encouraged to come and dance on the kinetic floors and cycle on the power bikes, generating energy to help power the show. Data showing how much power was generated was received and interpreted live, as OSC data. This data was used to create a live competition to entertain the audience before the show started.
FRAY used Notch to interpret and display this data in a stylised and fun way on giant, circular iMag screens on both sides of the stage. Firstly, live joules data was received and accumulated to show the total amount of energy generated over the 4 minute dance game. Secondly, we created a live speedometer, with a bar that got higher or lower depending on the amount of energy the audience was producing. The speedometer was designed to encourage the crowd with effects like glowing pulses and particles which appeared as the energy level rose. Finally, we displayed an animated battery which slowly filled up in response to the amount of energy generated.
In addition to these generative elements the screens displayed text showing the current location of the show, the winner of the energy-generating dance game, and also hosted a live-camera IMAG feed of the crowd on the kinetic dance floors and power bikes.
As well as the over-all energy generated by the kinetic floor, each individual tile and quadrant also produced a trigger. FRAY used this data to create a single canvas of eight separately triggered pieces of content in Notch. This was then feed-mapped in Disguise to various strands of the LED strips that adorned the kinetic floors and power bikes, providing another way of showcasing the audience’s participation