For their upcoming U2:UV Achtung Baby Live experience, U2 approached Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) with an incredible challenge, to take the recently completed next-generation entertainment venue – Sphere – and make it disappear before the eyes of a live audience then take the surrounding city itself and essentially make it disappear as well in a unique, awe-inspiring fashion.
“U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere redefines the 21st-century rock concert.”
London-based Treatment Studio, the creative and technical team that created and produced the overall U2:UV show design, executed the first phase of the transformation and created an incremental buildup of insects against a backdrop representing the outer shell of the Sphere. As the entire ‘sky’ becomes blotted out by the insects, they begin to disperse in an intentionally artistic manner revealing ILM’s majestic Las Vegas cityscape. 4 months in the making, a team of 20 ILM visual effects artists crafted an ultra-high-resolution, fully CG version of Las Vegas as seen from the exact point of view of an audience seated within the Sphere utilizing cutting-edge visual effects. Concertgoers witness the city that has reinvented itself decade after decade deconstruct itself in a reverse timelapse beginning in the present and ending in the early 1900s when the territory was nothing but an empty desertscape. ILM leveraged every ounce of its artist’s vast expertise in creating fully CG photoreal environments to generate Terabytes of media at an eye-watering 16K x 16K resolution to fill Sphere’s 580,000 square feet of LEDs. The team also delivered multiple loopable segments at varying lengths that could be sequenced at random to suit U2’s desired performance timing all in service of telling a story like no other and enabling the band to, once again, push the bounds of what a live performance can be.
“…it works so well that, like the Abba’s Voyage show, you leave feeling confident this is an idea others are going to copy: clearly other rock bands are going to turn up to the Sphere in the future, bearing performances big on dazzling technology. Whether they’ll be as dazzling, or indeed as charming as this, time will show.”