Well I think enough time has passed for me to be able to talk about this project again without having an immediate panic attack. (Only half joking…!)
When this project landed on my desk back in the spring I knew I was going to have to assemble a crack team. The complexity was already terrifying and I didn’t know the half of it at that stage! Luckily photographer Steve Brown and digital artist, Kaia Zak quickly came on board and we started the first of what was to be nine shoot days.
Each artist was shot on a white seamless background as we knew the final image would be brought together in Photoshop. Steve copied the lighting and camera settings exactly each time which is critical in a project like this. We also had two days in the abandoned theatre at Alexandra Palace where we shot the BBC Concert Orchestra and backplates of the theatre itself, which you can spot in the final composition.
Creatively I knew we had to produce an image that reflected and complemented the tone and ambition of the final film. I worked closely with the creative agency, Karmarama and the visual effects house, The Mill, both of which had some great early visual material and an animatic. Even with that in hand, it was a huge (vast, immense, terrifying) leap from a collection of the some of the most famous faces in music on white backgrounds, to what you see above.
Early on in the post production phase we pulled together all sorts of visuals to try and understand what we were aiming for. We looked at a lot of David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, fashion photography and some of the big Hollywood film posters, as they often worked with many people and visual elements in a fantastical landscape. The challenge here was not only to capture the tone of the film but to do it with 27 artists, an orchestra, a choir, a tiger and a jungle, all in one image!
The final artwork is a testament to the talent and resourcefulness of Kaia Zak. I had a vision of how it should look but she is the person who actually made it happen. Design time was approximately six weeks and the final image has over 670 layers and uses over 240 stock images alongside the principal photography. Anyone who works in Photoshop will know how insane that is!!
From this main image also cascaded many smaller versions for digital platforms, posters and other marketing collateral, such as the Spotify artwork above.
And of course, the single is being sold to raise money for the BBC charity, Children in Need, so please buy a copy!
This project was incredibly challenging and I learnt a huge amount along the way. Cast and crew were fabulous, memorable and calm in the face of some heart-stopping deadlines. I hope we all get to work together again on another (smaller) project!