The best gigs I've ever been to are the ones where I felt like I got lost in space and time. Those occasions where the dance floor is apparently wrenched out the ground and sent spinning through the universe in an enjoyable mash of people, lights, and music. Basically, they feel exactly the way this gig by Japanese pop trio Perfume looks.
the inside of the internet as imagined in a 90s hacker film
The performance in question took place at SXSW this month, and while I'm sure it was amazing to see first-hand, the video from the live stream of the gig is more mind-blowing. First we see the lights, lasers, and projections from the gig (all real, of course). Then, the camera starts diving around the venue, and you think, "Wow, that's amazing, it must have been crazy to film." But after this the camera goes outside the venue itself and starts swooping around what looks like the inside of the internet as imagined in a '90s hacker film. I mean, this is very much what a good gig feels like.
Anyway, as you'd expect, there's some very clever stuff going on behind the scenes, with Japanese digital effects company Rhizomatiks responsible for all the technical wizardry. Speaking to The Verge, Daito Manabe of Rhizomatiks explains that motion capture and 3D tracking shots played a big part in bringing the gig to life. For the IRL performance, three semi-translucent screens were moved around onstage by Perfume, with projections mapped onto these in real time by motion capture technology. (Manabe has done this sort of thing before, even mapping projections onto the dancers themselves.)
The 3D models used to create the effects in the live stream.
For the live stream meanwhile, footage was mixed from different cameras with 3D scanned models of the venue and singers. These models were prepared in advance, says Manabe, but the final result (the video above) was created completely on the fly — no post production was used at all. Manabe stresses, however, that the most important element was the precision dance moves orchestrated by Perfume choreographer Mikiko: "Without Mikiko's stage and visual direction," he says, "it was just a tech demo." Still. What a tech demo.
Verge Video: A chorus of keys