In case you haven’t noticed, there have been some musical movies featured massive concert scenes. These movies have scenes where the CG visual effects combined with real  footage and thorough planning helped make up much-needed, dynamics cheering crowds.

The concert scenes required a unique crowd-building approach

On “Yesterday”, singer Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) became a star by playing Beatles songs that the rest of the world seemed to have forgotten. At one point, he performed them at Wembley Stadium.
Rather than creating a computer-generated crowd or using crowd models, the actual crowd is used in the film. The VFX Visual Effects Supervisor Adam Gascoyne said: “As for the energy that director Danny Boyle wanted to get out of the crowd, we all thought it would be difficult to pull off with a multitude of CG due to its random nature. The energy when you watch one musical shows, the crowds go absolutely crazy and you really feel it. ”

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The plan was to film all of Ed Sheeran’s concerts, which can seat up to 80,000 people, from start to finish.

Then when Sheeran finished and left the stadium, the team continued to work filming Patel all night on stage with the same lighting setup, but in an empty stadium.

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There are nine planned camera positions around the stadium, allowing the team to capture Jack’s actions on stage, in addition to various motion cameras.

Planning ahead for the shoots helped solve one of the most challenging aspects of this approach

The crowd will react to Sheeran’s music, but in the final takes, of course, they have to react to the music of Jack’s Beatles. “Fortunately,” says Gascoyne, “you start to see similarities in what you want the crowd to do as they listen, like ‘Here Comes The Sun’. Maybe, they waved in the air, and then you noticed that the crowd started doing things that you wanted to start incorporating into the songs that Jack was singing. So when Jack sang ‘Saw Her Standing There’, the multitude of those scenes was when Ed Sheeran was singing ‘Bloodstream’.

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The work for the Wembley Stadium scenes was primarily to tie Jack together in actual shots of the crowd, but there were additional moments that required specific visual effects. For example, Sheeran at one point during his concert had crowds holding his phones; The lights are enhanced to the scene using Houdini particles for a particularly magical ‘glow’. Some of Jack’s concert lighting screen graphics were also redesigned to match The Beatles’ music.

About 6,000 additional staff members honestly filmed these scenes, and creative CG VFX approach later was used to expand the crowd to 24,000 more.
“These 6,000 people showed up, all based on goodwill. It’s a huge amount and it looks great, but we’ve improved it a bit with the CG crowd. We can do that because we also have the energy of the real crowd and then we link it. Everything is useful with energy,” says Gascoyne.

At Bohemian Rhapsody’s climactic Live Aid concert, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and members of his band Queen performed with a large crowd, also at Wembley Stadium, but way back in 1985. Here, the actors perform on a simulated stage. Mostly on green screens with a small crowd. The study then used image-based modeling to transform the 3D models into 100,000 crowd agents.

The director requested the crowd to be captured ‘on camera’, strongly against the use of fully CGI 3D animated characters created by A.I

This request was driven by the customer, who felt that animated crowd agents would not match the look and dynamics of the Live Aid crowd.

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Another key requirement is that the crowd react in different and specific ways to each queen’s song. They will have to act at the right time to the music, like stomp and clap once for ‘We Will Rock You’ or clap twice for ‘Radio GaGa’. Audio guide tracks help with this. The effort began with seven-day performance shots. “Every day is 10 hours and the camera works about 8 hours a day, so in total there are about 50 or 60 hours of performance”, describes Waine. “We collected around 70 TB of video data in total and created hundreds of individual performances for our audio guide tracks.”

More than 150 blue screens get up

Maya is used for chamber compositions, which are then filled with particles, that is, additions, in Houdini. This tool is also used to specify action instances taken from the respective crowdsource clips. Finally, lighters using the Cinesite team’s ‘Gaffer’ toolkit can remap textures during shading and lighting. Dodger Stadium is, of course, a CG construction.
“We spent a considerable amount of time researching period-specific architecture, décor and color schemes, and even acoustic technology for each concert venue,” says Voss. “Fortunately, there is a lot of information available online and in archives. Elton’s Dodger Stadium concerts since 1975 are exceptionally well recorded, we watched the 2-hour documentary quite thoroughly in preparation, instructing us on how to add banners, beach balls flying above our heads, lighters and fireworks that help sell the final photos.”

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network: https://www.awn.com/
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/tech
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist: https://beforesandafters.com/
  4. Bloomberg News: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/
  5. Insider: https://www.insider.com/