Paris-based Naked Cie (not to be confused with Nakd) developed some interesting concert visuals for Mika’s performance at the NRJ Music Awards (kind of like a French MTV Awards). There were two challenges for this project that I think make it noteworthy. The first and most obvious is that visually it had to work with Mika’s existing aesthetic universe, a cross between the Sesame Street pinball animation and the work of Peter Max.
The second and less obvious challenge—the one I’m more interested in—is the general problem of creating concert visuals (especially for a diva like Mika). Varying levels of megalomania dictate that the visuals not upstage the artist or detract from the performer’s presence. So motion designers have to walk a fine line between making something spectacular (which is what they were ostensibly hired to do) and making something ambient (which is just kinda boring).
There are several solutions to this. One is to reduce the palette of the project so that the performer’s relatively high saturation creates contrast with the background visuals. That was LA studio Ember’s approach to their visuals for Madonna’s Confessions Tour.
Another possibility is to create symmetrical compositions, as in Naked Cie’s Mika project above and Steve Scott’s Led Zeppelin visuals. Symmetry naturally highlights the performer, who acts as a roving bit of chaos amongst an orderly backdrop. Symmetrical compositions also often create strong vertical motifs, which can add drama and grandeur to a performance.
Naked Cie’s novel solution also involved a new technique: a revolving globe at the base of the composition. The idea is that Mika is forever traveling along the surface of some psychedelic planet. As the engine for this rotation, Mika is the center of the audience’s attention, but there’s a great interplay between his movement and the movement of the animation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar technique applied to more concert visuals in the future.
Here are the visuals in context: