The first stage of creating the video design for Sam Fender’s arena tour was to establish the mood and feel of the show. Through discussions with the tour’s production designer, Sam Tozer, and our previous experience working with Sam Fender at the BRIT awards, we began with each member of the FRAY team generating still looks. These looks weren’t necessarily related to a particular song, but the process helped us find the overall feeling and palette of the show.
We knew that we needed to integrate live cameras within the show’s content so, from the very beginning of the process, we tried to keep in mind what Notch could offer us and how it could be combined with traditionally animated content out of After Effects.
One major challenge with this show was that Sam and his band do not play to any form of click or timecode track. They are true musicians, responding to each other and creating a unique experience for the audience every night. This has a real impact on how you build the video content. It’s not practical to create something that locks to the beat or to visually build something up to respond to a pre-determined drop in the music. Instead, every section of every song had to be made up of individually cue-able parts. Each part could then be triggered separately by the lighting operator. We also had to build in safety nets should the band decide to loop back around on a certain section of a song or play at a slightly different tempo to the previous night.
For some songs this meant that the video content was simply broken into four or five parts. However others required 35-40 sections, each of which needed to be triggered at the right lyric or musical moment.
The use of Notch was essential to building the look of the show as it developed. Each look had a set of exposed parameters, this meant every detail of the look could be tweaked and programmed to happen on cue.