Tedua: Don’t Panic

Ombra Design joins forces with Italian rapper, Tedua for an XR performance that takes the artist through various settings, from an otherworldly forest-scape to a post-apocalyptic urban inferno. TPi’s Stew Hume finds out more.

An XR performance that took inspiration from a famed piece of Italian literature, Tedua’s recent performance to promote his latest mixtape was certainly a visually ambitious project. Brought in to help bring the rapper’s vision to life was London-based creative agency, Ombra Design, founded by Lorenzo De Pascalis and managed by Giulia De Paoli, which has produced content for the likes of DJ Snake, Janet Jackson and Martin Garrix over the years. De Paoli walked TPi through the creative journey behind this latest XR performance. 

“We were approached by Tedua’s team 15 days before the release of the mixtape and video launch,” she began. Due to Ombra’s work with another big Italian artist a few years ago, Tedua’s team were keen to bring the creatives on-board. 

The video in question was to promote the artist’s new seven-track release. “They had some interesting references for us to work from, mainly inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia.” [A famous Italian narrative poem from the 1300s for those of you not up on your Italian classics.] 

“Both the lyrics and aesthetics took inspiration from Dante himself and from the classic drawings of Dorè.” Conscious of the tight time frame, the Ombra crew quickly realised how much of a challenge this project was going to be. “We love a good challenge,” chuckled De Paoli. 

With the tight turnaround of video delivery and the range of scenarios, the team decided that XR was the best way to approach the project, with all the looks being designed in just a week. Ombra’s in-house creative team designed environments within Unreal Engine with disguise servers powering the shoot. 

This project was the first time the Ombra team had utilised Unreal for a project of this scale. “Unreal is such an amazing software and iterating, changing, fixing is really fast compared to rendering content; this lets us run through the artist team feedback,” stated De Paoli. 

The entire workload was split between a team in London and Milan, with the shoot taking place in a studio created by Netick Group in Milan. In line with Italian regulations, everyone onsite for the shoot had to work with masks on, respect social distancing and use hand sanitiser. A full list of the attendees was also filed for COVID-19 communication purposes. “We limited the number of people in the studio space to accommodate the artist and the team and to get everyone the right space to hang out,” stated De Paoli. “We also added a screen in the dressing rooms for friends, press, and the artist team to check what was going on in the studio.” 

Both De Pascalis and De Paoli were also in constant communication with the director and team in London, giving real-time updates to make sure the show went off without a hitch. 

The content in the studio was displayed on an INFiLED DB 2.6mm for the sides with a 5.9mm for the floor. “INFIiLED is a great product for XR,” enthused De Paoli. “It works well with cameras and for what we were trying to achieve with this video. There are many products out there of course and technology and screens continue to improve, so we are always curious to try out the latest tech.”

Powering the content were a disguise VX4 and three RXs using disguise Cluster Rendering. An Analog Way Aquilon RS1 was also selected to handle 4K signals with a Sony FS7 on a camera jib capturing the performance. 

The world of XR is nothing new to the team at Ombra who since starting to work with Notch a few years ago, have been making serious inroads into this new entertainment medium. 

“Since then, we have tried to push and explore the boundaries of this space, from using BlackTrax to control visuals around artists to XR and AR for many interesting projects,” stated De Paoli. “We really enjoy working in XR because between the technical challenges and optimising the scenes, there is a lot of space for creativity, fast changes and opportunity to make amazing things happen.” 

The creative also commented on the great strides made within the field with the likes of Epic Games, disguise and other companies investing heavily on the R&D of this side of the industry. 

“We were extremely happy with the results and the energy created by the amazing team that was on this project,” concluded De Paoli. “The video was perceived in a very positive way from Tedua’s followers, and it stayed in the number one trending spot in Italy on YouTube for more than a week. Without XR, the project would not have been possible in that short amount of time. We are so glad we took the challenge. As a first Unreal project for us, this was an amazing experience. It will only get better from here.”

This article originally appeared in issue #262 of TPi, which you can read here.

Photos: Ombra Design