LAPhil 100th Anniversary Concert Star Wars

LAPhil 100th Anniversary Concert at the Hollywood Bowl

Live Projection Mapping, Interactive & Show Operation

XiteLabs was honored when the Los Angeles Philharmonic asked the team to create a landmark visual experience for their 100th Anniversary Concert and musical celebration at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. The show, which took place on September 30th, 2018 was the culmination of a day’s worth of artistic events. It spanned an 8-mile stretch from Walt Disney Concert Hall to Hollywood Bowl.

The XiteLabs team conceptualized, designed, produced, and ran all visual components for the free Hollywood Bowl 100 year anniversary concert. The first show of the season, the groundbreaking concert commemorated the launch of the LA Philharmonic’s 100th season.

Major newspapers and publications around the world have consistently ranked the LA Philharmonic as one of the world’s premier orchestras. In April 2017, the NY Times deemed the LA Philharmonic “America’s Most Important Orchestra.”

Overview Video

An overview of some of the work involved in creating this show at XiteLabs

As part of our discovery process, the XiteLabs team explored the relationship between color and sound. It drew on previous studies conducted around synesthesia, “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.”

Using the scheduled music programming as a base, the XiteLabs team began assigning color palettes and visual storytelling that would perfectly match the orchestra’s musical selections for that evening. The planned music selections ranged from popular, well-known pieces such as Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite’ to the debut performance of a 12-minute atonal modern work ‘Guasamacabra’ by Venezuelan composer Paul Desenne under the direction of the LA Philharmonic’s famed conductor and music director Gustavo Dudamel. The Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) also made an appearance on Arturo Marquez’s modern classic “Conga Del Fuego Nuevo.” 

To encourage attendance from a wider demographic, the LA Phil invited guest pop star Katy Perry, Herbie Hancock (the LA Phil Creative Chair for Jazz), and Kali Uchis to join in and perform some of their popular hits. These performances highlighted the magic of the LA Phil—and with wonderful orchestral arrangements by David Campbell (Joy, Brokeback Mountain, Spider Man, and Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney) brought well known pieces such as Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ to new life in front of the full-capacity audience of 17,500 in attendance. The encore and finale to the evening was the emotional and iconic Main Theme from ‘Star Wars’, with guest conductor and original composer John Williams wielding his (light saber!) wand.

For the LAPhil 100th Anniversary Concert our production approach integrated real-time visuals, reactive to both audio and the conductor’s wand motions, pre-rendered CG material, and live performance controls via Midi/Osc,  XiteLabs created the most robust real-time visual mapping show ever done at the Hollywood Bowl, re configurable to any venue or scale of show in the future. With the interactive tracking data of Gustavo Dudamel’s performance feeding into Touch Designer and passed to Notch via OSC, and 8 discrete channels of submixed audio from the orchestra driving our pre-programmed looks for pieces such as Star Wars, it was evident to attendees that this was no ordinary projection mapping show!

Our chief technical artist Matt Guertin designed our show system using the Luminosity framework created by Keith Lostracco in Touch Designer 099. Luminosity allowed us to save presets and cue the generative system in a very advanced fashion. We had a 3D 4k previz view of the stage and a complete UV mapping pipeline with real time tracing and chasing geometries.

For ‘Star Wars’ our programming in Notch accounted for any given section of the orchestra, e.g., ‘Hi Strings’ to illuminate and animate certain areas of the the arch or ‘proscenium’ of the Hollywood Bowl, which, for the John William’s masterpiece theme for ‘Star Wars’, was skinned to look very much like the interior of the iconic Millennium Falcon ship that Han Solo pilots in the Star Wars films. In this way, XiteLabs fostered a direct relationship between the musical performance and composition and the audience’s visual experience of the music, while incorporating themed elements that spoke to the originality and beauty of the original IP. We were in awe witnessing The Master John Williams conducting this timeless epic, as our visuals surrounded him and the LA Phil orchestra in fields of asteroids, and onward through a warp-speed tunnel that bridged the past and future!

'Star Wars' - Video

A video excerpt of “Star Wars” composed and conducted by John Williams

For Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’, we implemented a real-time particle system in Notch that enabled us to play live via a Midi keyboard and iPad controls over OSC, and perform live in conjunction with the physical fireworks show that was happening simultaneously. As the real-time projected particles whooshed up to sync with the real fireworks, Gustavo Dudamel’s hand and wand would push the particles around to breath even more life and interaction into the show.

Katy Perry 'Firework' - Video

A video excerpt of Katy Perry and her re-imagined smash “Firework”.

Taking the live-performance and real-time integration to the next level, XiteLabs performed live visuals during Herbie Hancock’s classic fusion composition ‘Rockit’, which was reinterpreted and orchestrated into a jazzier, more elaborate rendition of the original MTV hit. During this piece, Vello Virkhaus VJ’d various real-time procedurally generated visual elements using an Akai MPK2, while Greg Russell used an Akai Mini to trigger visuals that were musically and rhythmically in sync with the improvised piece in a way that could be not done with pre-produced or rendered visuals. XiteLabs’ Tanner Thompson used iPad controllers to modify Touch/OSC commands during this song as well as others, controlling parameters such as particle speed, gravity, rotation, etc. to more fully control the visual experience live.

In addition to the real-time interactive aspects to the show, XiteLabs also created pre-produced animated elements for Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, her cover of Queens’ Bicycle Race, Kali Uchis songs ‘Flight 22’, ‘After the Storm’, as well as portions of ‘Star Wars’.

Herbie Hancock 'Rockit' - Video

Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’ – a jazzier rendition with XiteLabs improvising the visual performance

The reaction to LAPhil 100th Anniversary Concert and the visual experience created by XiteLabs has been unanimous—the reviews from audience members as well as the LA Phil performers and directors have all been glowing. One audience member’s review says it all:

I can’t believe in all the shows I’ve seen at @HollywoodBowl, I’ve never seen projections accompanying the @LAPhil. I want more. #LAPhil100

Our thanks to LMG for their support and expertise with projection equipment and staffing. The show ran with 12 projectors in 3 locations, consisting of Barco HDQ 2K40 and Panasonic RQ32K units. 

We would also like to thanks Appix for their excellent crowd visuals cell-phone technology.

And most importantly, we would like to share our appreciation for the amazing roster of artists that worked on the project from Arizona, Moldova, Romania and the Ukraine !