Over the years I've worked on many interesting projects. And all of them have had a unique set of constraints and circumstances. Yet I have to say, working with the band O.A.R. to create a visual experience for their first Extended Stay Tour was one of my favorite experiences in work or life. Not just because I love the band, and their music, but because my cousin, Marc Roberge, is also the lead singer. Getting to work with him gave the project another level of meaning. Oddly, however, he and I barely spoke the entire time we worked on the project. That made it even more interesting, because we're neighbors and talk all the time. But as professionals, we share the same obsessive, perfectionist DNA about our work so we just went to work, and did our thing.
The project had certain limitations. It required us to design and build a visual experience for a rock concert, but the experience had to be light weight, easy to transport and assemble, and not take up much space in the equipment truck. The band wanted to make sure that they had a way of making each night it's own experience. If you have ever been to an O.A.R. show, then you know that no two shows are alike. For these shows, the band wanted to take fans across a historical journey of their nearly 20 years together, which would encompass their journey from childhood friends playing music in the basement to selling out Madison Square Garden.
Our solution was to create a three dimensional backdrop and develop custom animations, which we organized into a library of visual assets to deploy in realtime during the shows. We developed special software to trigger certain visuals based on the live tempo of the show. We worked with Epson as our projection partner and used our laptops to run the show. Without a budget for the more advanced equipment we typically use for these kinds of projects, we hacked together some different technologies to create a system to deploy these visuals in realtime. We created a live feed of the audience at the concert, and deployed it at various times throughout the show. The fans loved it!
We traveled with the band to three cities, did thirteen shows in three weeks. Every night, I loved the energy of the show. I was honestly a bit depressed when the project was over. Being on tour was an incredible rush of adrenaline every night. I can see how bands get addicted to it. There is no doubt that the culture of touring musicians embodies the secret ingredients of true collaboration.