For the opening of the massive Madison Square Garden Sphere in Las Vegas, artist and director Marco Brambilla creates a monumental artwork paying homage to the rock legend Elvis Presley shown during legendary U2 concert. From his vision emerged a gigantic and intricate work, accurately and passionately depicting Elvis’s life through 6 key stages: Birth, Music, Vegas, Performance, Metropolis, Vortex. Going far beyond a simple visual retrospective, this majestic work is the result of the meticulous assembly of over 800 video clips taken from the legendary icon’s films.
To ensure appropriate video excerpts for rotoscoping, a meticulous film reference search was conducted, leveraging AI techniques like Stable Diffusion. One of the most significant technical challenges was achieving a 16K x 16K resolution, necessitating the development of a specialized pipeline to optimize efficiency and fluidity in handling such immense data. Under Stéphane Pivron's guidance and with support from Alexis Baillia, a technological engineering effort was orchestrated within The Mill's agile in-house team. They delved into Marco Brambilla's creative vision, meticulously organizing with Flame & After Effect more than 800 video elements into 6 categories.
Despite the project's vast scope and complexity, the team managed to successfully complete it in a little over 2 months, a testament to the collaborative energy, dedication, and technical prowess of both The Mill team and Marco Brambilla's teams.
The fusion of cutting-edge technology and artistic creativity, highlighted through the integration of 3D elements and visual effects, was pivotal in bringing Marco Brambilla's grand artistic vision to life. This awe-inspiring project has captivated prominent media outlets like Billboard, The Art Newspaper, Wallpaper, LBB, Post Perspective, and numerous art, advertising, and technology magazines. It stands as a testament to innovation and promises to make a lasting mark on the entertainment industry, leaving audiences and enthusiasts enthralled.
Exclusive Interview of Marco Brambilla
Director Marco Brambilla had already the opportunity to appreciate The Mill's work through previous collaborations. However, it was the masterful fusion of technical and artistic ingenuity by our VFX Supervisor, Stéphane Pivron, that particularly captivated him. Based in Paris, he had already assembled a competent team but was still looking to gather new talents to build and bring the entire structure to life. That's how we were invited to join this adventure.
The work was still in its early stages when we first discovered it, requiring a major technical overhaul while preserving the director's original vision. Without even knowing the technological challenges ahead, we immediately accepted, as enthusiasm pervaded the entire studio at the prospect of being involved in this work, myself included.
Under Stéphane's guidance and with the support of Alexis Baillia & Ghalia Chammat, a large-scale technological engineering effort was orchestrated, followed by the deployment of an agile in-house team. Behind the scenes, the entire team at The Mill, was aware of the technical challenges, but the determination and happiness of being involved in this project were invaluable. We all immersed ourselves in Marco Brambilla's creative vision while bringing our own expertise. With 800 video elements arranged in 6 categories, every detail required meticulous focus. The artistic input from The Mill's team was significant, skillfully connecting the various elements and giving them volume and coherence from the existing sequences. Concrete proposals emerged regarding the transitions between the stages and the 3D modeling of Elvis's head. A collaborative relationship was quickly established with the director, based on listening and trust. Every virtual reality visualization of the project was a revelation, allowing us to perceive the work in three dimensions. This adventure, initiated in July, extended until September. Participating in such a project immersed the team back into the very essence of our profession, centered on the artistic aspect of the project rather than a typical commission. No product, no brand, but a profoundly enriching experience.
- Fabrice Damolini, Executive Producer
We met Marco Brambilla in June. He was in search of profiles that were both technical and artistic for his monumental work projected on the Sphere at Madison Square Garden in Las Vegas 3 months later. From the first meeting, I was charmed by the project as it goes beyond the usual framework I am accustomed to. Much more than a commissioned film, this time we had to bring to life an artwork driven by Marco's creative vision.
We first discovered the artwork through a Photoshop composition: Las Vegas through the life of Elvis Presley, divided into 6 distinct parts corresponding to key stages of his life. This gigantic composition contains over 800 video loops of less than 3 seconds, extracted from just as many different films, which, when assembled, form a construction whose primary inspiration is the film Metropolis.
Once the creative euphoria subsided, we moved on to production. Marco wanted to assemble on Flame to take advantage of the machine's native 3D space and its responsiveness. The first technical challenge: the final projection resolution, 16K x 16K, required us to work in very high resolutions, posing enormous calculation and storage problems. Consequently, we had to develop a pipeline specific to the project to gain efficiency and fluidity.
Given the magnitude of the project, we also had to scale the team accordingly, and from the outset, we brought in Alexis Baillia, also a Flame Artist, with whom we led the production. Up to 3 people were added to work on After Effects, the machine on which we built most of the blocks that make up the final composition.
4 minutes in 16K, a little over 2 months of production, a project that was successfully completed thanks to the energy and motivation of The Mill team combined with those of Marco Brambilla and his own teams. I am very proud of this project for all the aspects mentioned above, but especially for the individuals who accompanied me throughout this project. We made the right choices all together, the challenge was substantial, and it's collectively that we were able to achieve it!
- Stéphane Pivron, VFX Supervisor
Marco Brambilla studio
Director: Marco Brambilla
Director assistant: Gintare Siulyte
Producer: Stephen Holtzhauser
Editor: Delfina De Oliveira Cézar
Photoshop: Fred Tribolet
The Mill Paris:
Executive producer: Fabrice Damolini
VFX producer: Ghalia Chammat, Kahina Lamblin
VFX Supervisors: Stéphane Pivron, Alexis Baillia
Creative Director: Stéphane Pivron
VFX coordinators: Milan Vicet , Mathilde Cohen-Selmon, Alexandre Dupouy
Flame Artists: Stéphane Pivron, Alexis Baillia, Damien Peiro, Léo Verdier, Valentin Gingembre
After Effects compositing: Steven Ada, Fayçal Elkechai, Olivier Jarry, Julien Pinot, Michael Moercant
Producer: Cédric Choppin
Art Director, Matte Painter: Frederic Tribolet
CGI Supervisor: Federico Costa
CGI Modeler: Lustinian Funnie
CGI Modeler: Gael Chauvin
AI & CGI Lighting & Rendering: Bastien Petit-Testucci
Editor: Delfina De Oliveira Cezar
Editing Assistant: Lucie Barrion
Rotoscoping: Bonjour Saigon