Three questions drove FRAY’s development of video design for Foals’ tour, ‘Life Is Yours’. Firstly, ‘How many things can you do to a flower and still have it look beautiful?’ Secondly, ‘How do you turn static objects into 90 minutes of beautiful content?’ Finally, and pivotally, “Can you make an entire show out of flowers?”
We knew early on that we wanted to avoid using stock footage in this show. Many of the good clips out there have been overused, others are too short and we knew would spend more time fighting them into something workable than seemed sensible. Therefore all our initial content development built up to a jam-packed 3 day film shoot where we would need to capture all of the content to create the show.
FRAY Studio worked closely with Cassius Creative and Foals’ lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, to develop a set of unique looks. Initially this wasn’t with a specific song in mind but simply trying to identify the right visual pallet for the show. A few recurring themes emerged, mainly centred around how to take something natural and beautiful and then physically and digitally destroy it. We had to be careful to avoid clichés while also creating a fresh and different feel for each individual song. Achieving this came down to the filming-style, careful flower selection and a unique, digital treatment for each song.
Once we had narrowed looks down, assigned colour pallets and begun to assign looks to songs, we were able to develop a shot list. The filming fell into three main categories: Special FX, Still Life and Sets. We worked with art director Elliot Rooney, Pavilion Productions and Matter SFX to take these ideas and make them beautiful on camera. Throughout this process we had to refine our floral choice to what was in season and within budget. We had desperately wanted a bearded lily for one look but these flowers would not be in season until two months after the shoot. Instead the art department took an iris, remoulded the petals and painted it to look like a bearded lily.
Over three intense days we shot thousands of pounds worth of flowers, took a lot of anti-histamines and worked with a brilliant crew to move though all the set ups and keep more or less on schedule. The most complex set up involved burning a rose and blowing up bunches of flowers. Matter Special FX worked out brilliant ways of destroying flowers safely. Everything was shot on a Phantom Flex at 1000fps to capture every detail in slow motion. By the end we had 4TB of raw footage of exploding flowers, burning flowers, flowers shot under UV light, oddly lit flowers and much more.
With all of the footage captured, the mammoth task of producing the content for the entire show was underway. The team worked remotely and were based across Europe. Therefore the project was kept in sync using Resilio and enough Zoom calls to watch each others’ house plants grow day-by-day.
The way that Foals perform live added to the complexity of making the show. The band don’t use a click track or timecode, so the same song is never performed exactly the same twice. All of the video sections had to be made twice as long as intended in case the band repeated certain parts of a song, while others needed to have loops built into the middle of clips to allow for spontaneous interactions with the audience.
Building in this level of flexibility, and also creating content for four different video surfaces, meant that each song could easily require over 100 video files rendered. Each of these video files had to be carefully programmed and married up with the lighting cue list.
This monumental task was essential to creating a show which allowed the audience to be fully immersed in the band’s vision.