The Live Event space provides an impressive palette with which to create audio/visual moments that transport the concert-goer to an alternate reality. Solid’s on-stage creative for Madonna’s Confessions Tour is a riveting example of just how that can work. The task at hand was to come up with a 4 1/2 minute animated excursion for the song “Like It or Not”.

The main theme of the song and corresponding creative is a journey through a living-vine garden of eden – a metaphor for the twists and turns of life and love. Our process from the start required a good amount of organization and rigid conceptual rules to give our artists a sound base from which to work from. We broke the song down into its various sections and tied the intensity of the growing vines to the lyrics being sung. We created diagrams and graphs that helped us plan out how the animation would unfold through its multiple chorus, bridge and verse’s. We went through several stages of design, exploring various treatments in terms of photo-realism, color and FX. Getting sign-off from a world renown performer can be a tricky process – Madonna definitely has strong opinions and a clear vision. Ultimately, she was interested in a realistic, minimalist aesthetic – one of several approaches we had sent along.

For the motion, the team used maya and x-frog to build a dynamically growing world. A variety of render passes were used to get the specific look we were going for. Key to our success was the use of a “thread” vine to make the seamless nature of the piece easy to manage. Basically, we started the animation with one vine and one camera, and told the story as well as we could with just that one element. Once that made sense, every additional element seemed to fit right in and give it that extra something.

Madonna’s show used several cutting edge display technologies for the stage. Central to this high-end install was an Element Labs, stealth LED screen – a curved element that creates a unique experience from all sides and has a layered sensibility, allowing viewers to see right through the darker parts of the image. To take advantage of that, we delivered 2 different layers – one for the foreground on the curved Stealth with more of the living, fast paced vine work and one to be used on a background LED screen as a supporting layer. The two layered screens create an intense sense of depth, bringing attendees even deeper into Madonna’s secret garden of eden.