When one of the world's biggest rock and roll bands, Oasis, celebrated a career's worth of achievement, the film playing behind Rock-n-Roll Star was created by Creative COW author Nel Johnson and the team at Studio Skylab. Learn the After Effects techniques that helped them complete the project under a ridiculous deadline, while wowing Oasis and a worldwide audience. As Nel puts it, "We locked ourselves away, cranked up the music, and went nuts." In this Creative COW Magazine Extra, we take a closer look at the story, starting with the creation of the film's unique look.
Oasis indicated to us that they were very interested in pop art. This was ideal as one of my favourite artists is Robert Indiana -a famous American pop artist. His style utilises lots of flat primary colours, stars, squares, circles, bold, brash stencil letters and numbers and I thought it perfectly suited 'rock n roll star.'
In order to add another facet to it I proposed that we do a pop art treatment on the faces of famous rock n roll stars that were an influence on Oasis the band eg John Lennon, Ian Brown, Jimmi Hendrix and add them to the mix. Sadly this particular aspect of the design never saw the light of day. The band's legal team were concerned about copyright issues, so in the end the treatment became full-length animation in the style of Robert Indiana, taking literal phrases from the song and treating them in a bold brash style.
The band approved the concept and with just five days to go until the event itself the pressure was on. We locked ourselves away, cranked up the music and went nuts.
I started off with a content gathering exercise and thought it would be an idea to collect textures and imagery that would help carry the concept in a style that would be appropriate for the music industry. So we went out and shot abstracts of gig posters focusing on torn edges, and the multiple overlaid graphics formed by the succession of posters left stuck to the wall underneath.
These formed a visual collage that would act as a backdrop for the scenes we were about to create. That was the starting point.
Next these were all scanned, imported into after effects and turned into 3d objects and dropped right back in z-depth away from the camera to form a distant backdrop.
This is the image. Click it to take a look at the comp.
Others we positioned at intervals between the camera and the far backdrop and to these we applied various modes of transparency so the whole effect was an interplay of light and texture from the camera view to the far distance.
Click to see a closer look at the layers in a comp like this.
Random movement was applied to the camera's point of interest using 'SoundKeys' which was patched to an audio file from an earlier rehearshal session. This gave us a lovely paralax effect when all the layers were moving within the comps in time to the music.
That was the basis of various scenes that made up the visuals for the song. The animation wouldn't run in one long composition from start to end because no one quite knew what speed the band would play at. Granted, we had the rehearsal audio but this could only ever be a guide, basically, if the band played too fast or too slow none of the visual elements would work. We would create chorus pieces, bridge pieces, verse pieces each with a 3 seconds tail. These would be all be triggered individually at the right cue points by the lighting director on the night.
Here's the "verse" section animation created for the song's first verse.
The more difficult part of the project was the tail out for the song which lasts almost as long as the actual track itself so there was a huge composition to make for the end where the band go into guitar solo overdrive with lots of feedback and vocal effects. In order to interpret this we made a composition featuring all the best bits from the piece. Then to create that eye-popping finale we applied the 'random edit' plug-in from the Sapphire Suite which basically chopped a changed 2 or 3 frame edits increasing in speed and ferocity as the tail out progressed.
Take a look at the finished video, playing behind Oasis as they play "Rock 'n' Roll Star" at the 2007 Brit Awards. You'll DEFINITELY see the ferocious finale -- no "MAYBE" about it.
As you'll read in the full article from the Creative COW Magazine, Nel first worked with Oasis on the creation of a DVD special edition of their debut album, Definitely Maybe. Read the comments here.
You can also read more about the DVD at Definitely Maybe's Wikipedia entry, which also puts the band's achievements in a context that American readers might find particularly helpful.
Click here to download the PDF article from
Creative COW Magazine