Legendary rock band KISS becomes immortal with a little help from ILM

45+ Years | 500+ Film and TV credits | 135+ Awards

SINCE 1975

Dec 5, 2023

The end is only the beginning. KISS have been immortalized and reborn as avatars to rock forever. Created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in collaboration with the band and Pophouse Entertainment Group, the avatars portray each of the four band members in an idealized, and at times superhuman form. Months before the supergroup’s final show which would take place on December 2, 2023, KISS joined ILM’s visual effects team at its San Francisco headquarters to get measured, scanned, and photographed before slipping into sleek motion capture suits so the crew could record every nuance of their final performance. ILM’s StageCraft virtual production team would then simultaneously capture each band member’s performance from their facial expressions to their fingertips as they played in “God Gave Rock ’N’ Roll to You II” in unison.

The KISS Avatars

The KISS avatars showcase ILM’s unique creative expertise and artistry using their advanced performance-capture technology. The team was led by Academy Award® nominated Visual Effects Supervisor Grady Cofer. Cofer has over 20 years of experience supervising groundbreaking visual effects projects. Cofer is currently nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season for his work on The Mandalorian. Prior, he served as Overall Visual Effects Supervisor on Space Jam: A New Legacy and earned an Academy and BAFTA nomination for his contributions to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. Cofer’s three-year collaboration with Spielberg utilized cutting-edge virtual production tools to bring the OASIS, the project’s vast virtual world, to the big screen.  

“This is the sneak peek as the band crosses over from the physical world to the digital. We want to give fans a sense of the many forms this band could take in the future.”

Grady Cofer, ILM visual effects supervisor

Cofer’s ILM team leveraged the company’s decades-long experience to push the capabilities of performance capture, gathering every nuance of KISS band members’ face and body performance in exacting detail. This data would in turn become the basis for the motion of the band’s virtual avatars. The raw facial capture data was processed in real-time via ILM’s advanced machine learning algorithms for instantaneous feedback on stage and later passed through the ILM pipeline to be augmented by the artists to ensure the resulting performances were exactly as the band intended for their new digital personas enabling KISS’s creative output to continue to enthrall audiences well into the future.  

As the band’s final concert drew to a close, lead singer Paul Stanley’s avatar proudly exclaimed “KISS Army, your love, your power has made us immortal! A new KISS era starts now.” The digital group then performed its hit single “God Gave Rock ’N’ Roll to You II” to the delight of the concertgoers who filled the sold-out Madison Square Garden.