ThinkBreatheLive Makes Beyonce's Billboard Performance Come Alive
Big name, big stage, big production - that's the core of an inspired projection performance that ThinkBreatheLive (TBL), formerly known as Breathe, just pulled off to create a dazzling backdrop for Beyonce's performance of her latest single "Run the World (Girls)" at the Billboard Music Awards. Led by their top team of EP Kenny Pedini, Senior Editor Andy Jennison, and Editor/Visual Effects 3D Artist Ian Mayer, TBL perfectly executed the project, which was exactly the sort of large-scale production they have built the company to specialize in.
"The marketplace is literally begging for companies capable of pulling off large and complex projects as millions of people watch," stated Pedini. "We're one of the few that can do literally everything required to pull off something of this scale, from corralling the talent to nailing all technical aspects."
Staged live before a television audience of millions on ABC, the show, a collaboration with new media artist and film director Kenzo Digital (W+K, NYC), proved to be a memorable display of technical prowess and a first-class Beyonce performance. As the superstar throws out her trademark arsenal of unforgettable moves, a sequence of bold graphics augment the show on the enormous stage backdrop: an ever-changing battery of shapes and colors; buildings that seem to rise from the earth with nothing more than the girl power that is the heart of the song; and armies of carbon-copy Beyonces, both abstract and realistic, that periodically launch onto the screens to dance alongside her.
"Andy (Jennison) was the driving force behind every technical aspect of this project," noted Pedini. "He's done it all before, so everyone looks to him for guidance and expertise. We knew the challenges of lighting Beyonce live on the TV show would be incredible, and Andy was instrumental in identifying potential issues ahead of time and designing solutions for a flawless presentation."
TBL's Beyonce project followed a string of standard-setting concert tour stage projects - which involved live action, animation, graphics imagery, and social media campaigns - most notably Roger Waters' mind-blowing The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon tours.
Impressed with the outstanding reputation of these productions, Beyonce's tour manager contacted TBL just before Christmas to court the company. "Once we got him in the studio, he took one look at our work for The Wall Tour and concluded that we had a place in his business," stated Pedini. "Once spring rolled around, we found ourselves in midnight meetings with Beyonce , who is an absolutely phenomenal collaborator."
From there, TBL, got to work on the live-action shoot necessary to create visuals and references for Jennison's team to use as they constructed the armies of backdrop Beyonces. After a late-night rehearsal so that the singer could learn the choreography, TBL shot her on green screen and worked the armada of graphics around her.
Jennison, laboring under a tight deadline, insisted on working directly with Beyonce on the editorial process. "He's really, really good at working with talent," noted Pedini. "He's not at all intimidated by star power, but rather relishes the opportunity to work with the most influential voice directly."
Beyonce proved tireless on the campaign. "She was just an incredible workhorse," exclaimed Jennison. "She would leave our shop at 1:00 a.m. and come back the next morning with changes to her track because she'd headed to the studio afterward. She is dedicated to perfection and won't stop working until she achieves it."
TBL, whose gradual evolution into a studio capable of everything from creative direction to content creation to supervision, made them ideal for assembling a team of top-notch talent to create the visuals for the piece, including Dirt Empire for the 3D animal animations as well as Piranha for additional 3D work, and type designers Grand Army. Known for collaborating with top agencies- BBDO, Merkley, MRM, Draftfcb, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Grey Worldwide, to name a few-as well as versatile talent, TBL is recognized as an innovative, hybrid studio with incomparable flexibility and resources.
Production Co: ThinkBreatheLive
Director: Kenzo Digital
DP: Adrian Correia
Choreographer: Frank Gatson Jr.
Producer: Kenny Pedini
Technical Advisor: Andy Jennison
Editorial Co: ThinkBreatheLive
Lead Editor: Andy Jennison
EP: Kenny Pedini
Assistant Editor: Brianna Wilson
Post/Effects Co: ThinkBreatheLive
3D/VFX Artist(s): Ian Mayer, Eric Harnden
VFX Artist(s): Matt St. Leger, Hedy Lee, Sam Moon, Kristopher Anderson
3D Animal Animation: Dirt Empire
3D Animation: Piranha