When Guns N’ Roses’ successful Not In This Lifetime tour switched to disguise for its North American leg, it opened up new creative possibilities to enhance the already visually spectacular rock show.
The tour wrapped last November with two shows at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The three-year world tour played 158 concerts selling more than 5 million tickets and grossing $584 million.
The Not In This Lifetime tour that started in 2016 marked the first time that Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan played together since 1993. Screenworks-NEP Live Events was the disguise rental partner for the tour.
Jeremy Leeor, Managing Director and Dan Potter, Creative Director, at disguise studio Creative Works London, coordinated the creation, execution and delivery of the Ghostrain and traditional show walk-in opening sequence using the new disguise and Unreal integration, currently going through Beta testing.
“A lot of what we created for the Guns’ tour visuals was built similarly to the way triple-A game assets are made using highly creative and flexible 3D tools like Cinema 4D, ZBrush, 3Ds Max and Substance Painter to create high-quality assets that can then be moved into real-time render engines like Unreal Engine,” explained Dan. “This is how we’ve always done it, and it makes a lot of our content stand out for its depth, texture and richness.”
He pointed out that: “the rendering process on any project, in a conventional sense, presents many render engine and creative compositing options, and is central to how we achieve the diverse range of visual styles in our work. With the introduction of real-time render engines, you’re shifting the focal points of stages when you are developing a look to different points in the project timeline. This can be quite liberating if you’re working on something that plays to the strengths of the look you want to achieve and using the right tools to do it.”
Creative Works felt that disguise’s ability to offer Unreal Engine integration presented a great opportunity to dive into the disguise pipeline to create added-value for the tour. “Having worked in live-show environments for over a decade, Jeremy and I knew we need to move fast on these opportunities, so as soon as we got the blessing of Guns N’ Roses manager Fernando Lebeis of Team Brazil we didn’t waste any time starting the conversation with disguise to flesh out a plan,” said Dan. “We began the process with an eye on previewing something in Las Vegas at the Caesars Palace Colosseum show, which gave us time to work with Guns N’ Roses’ production team to integrate the new tech we needed to pull off the idea.”
Being able to scale content to any screen on the tour was critical, he noted: “After the initial creative and technical conversations we worked out a suitable idea that we could deploy in the show that would still work within the context of Guns N’ Roses yet not be critical to any key technologies and systems already installed on the show set. Our solution was to create a PBR-based high-resolution 3D asset of our Ghostrain and classic bullet logo and put it through its paces in Unreal Engine. The combination of the LED screen quality, disguise’s gx 2cs and the Unreal engine handled it beautifully. Even though we had to scale all the content for new screen dimensions in The Colosseum, we didn’t have to sacrifice any resolution in the quality of the visuals in the process – a real bonus!”
Overall, Creative Works found numerous advantages to using a disguise solution. “Disguise removed several pain points in building live show content,” said Dan. “We could develop the vision with the end product in mind as early as possible and create, test and adjust content sequencing ideas dynamically as the project unfolded. We built our content with confidence knowing that what we were delivering would work as expected and set up the show content in advance so that when we shared our creativity via disguise designer files nothing got lost in translation.”
“The ability of disguise to let you seamlessly resize the content to fit the new screen at The Colosseum, one of the world’s largest and highest resolution screens at a moment’s notice, to create a sensation similar to seeing clearly for the first time – was a giant win for all parties involved,” said Jeremy.