The Gloves Are Off… for the Creative Passport
Saturday, September 12th, 2020
After creating the trailer for Imogen Heap’s improvisation sessions, known as “The Gloves Are On” (a reference to the Mi.Mu gloves that Imogen helped develop and performs with), it was decided to reduce the amount of performances as Imogen was finding the process draining, and she had received creative inspiration from them and wanted to work in the studio.
I was asked by Marco Napolitano whether I’d be up for being involved with something else, a way to give Imogen some time off, while raising some money for The Creative Passport – and it would be called “The Gloves Are Off”.
The idea was to get fans of Imogen Heap to fill in the gap, and do a mix of live music and art. In total 20 fans stepped forward to perform on the show. While waiting for the submissions to arrive Louis Tribou created a series of static graphics to promote the event. These were posted around social media and gave us an indication of the design to follow.
Looking at the design I decided it would be interesting to create a version of the graphic with the waveform that takes up the mid-ground to be moving. The original Adobe Illustrator file was sent to me and I placed it into After Effects, where after some configuration I managed to make it react to Imogen Heap’s track, “Me The Machine”.
I sent an early demo to the team to show how this could work and the piece was only ever meant as a rough proof of concept – however the reaction was so positive that they asked to see if I could turn it in to a trailer.
Marco spoke to a friend who animated professionally and asked for feedback on my attempt. He suggested a few minor tweaks to provide some extra finesse. These included adding a soft glow to the text and making the background spark flicker like a candle. Once these were added I started investigating how to expand this demo to a trailer.
Permission was given to use Imogen’s track and Louis went away and created some extra graphics for me to play with. The final trailer was made very quickly by pulling all the elements into Premiere and moving them manually with keyframes – minus the waveform demo that remained in its original form.
The trailer (that can be seen on this page) was uploaded for September 3rd, and started to appear on social media on September 4th. During that time, all hands were on deck for creating the rest of the show.
Marco was managing us remotely via a Google Sheets document and live chat via Discord. Louis was placed on creating lower thirds for each artist (the small descriptions that appear when someone new is on screen, or a new song is playing).
As well as myself, there was also Emma Zinck working on editing. Acts were split between the two of us. The goal was to keep an eye on length for each act and address any issues.
Some acts were nice and easy and could just be placed straight onto the timeline, and had pre-edited their own material (examples of this include Cory King’s cover of “You Know Where to Find Me” and Stuart Henderson’s “G Love” video), others had some extra considerations, and we also had a few audio tracks that needed to be merged with video footage.
Marco gave us the ability to use the songs that we had and match them up with any footage available – for me this meant that I got to decide on what songs would go with Sean Purucker’s material.
They had submitted some pre-edited showreels which had a tempo that varied throughout. I decided to go with two songs and give the footage two different feels – the first part started with Sean’s intro, followed by fast moving footage alongside Ashton Maxwell’s “Time To Go”. The fast footage gelled well with some of the pre-existing showreel but required some tweaks later in the sequence. It was later in the show that we revisited Sean’s work, but this time I used slower tempoed footage and put an amazing track that had blown us away – an Opera track by Victoria Love. Once again the footage required a bit of tweaking but the end result was mesmerizing.
One interesting challenge was 2020k’s set – he had provided two songs with talking in-between. The problem was that the set he used included some props, one of which had been deemed unsuitable. The set was recorded on a single roaming camera and it was required that I went through and highlighted all the moments that this prop appeared, tracked and blurred it.
Emma sent me an XML with her cut of the artists which easily imported into my version of premiere. It was then my goal to stitch everything together to make the final show.
I had repurposed the graphics from the trailer, but had changed the music to Stuart Henderson’s track to avoid any copyright issues halting the live stream. His track worked brilliantly to pull you into the show.
We were given two intro’s from the lady herself, Imogen Heap. Marco and myself very quickly chose which one to use, and it was then down to Marco to send me little interludes between the acts. I built up the full show adding in lower thirds that Louis created, adding in each acts, and creating custom graphics such as a please donate message.
The last two things to be done was the end credits and working on the sound levels. This ended up being 3am the morning of the show! Sound was all about getting everyone to be at similar levels, applying some basic EQs and for a couple of moments cleaning up some noisy dialogue. This is not an area of expertise for me, so I was quite happy with the end result.
Marco was very trusting as finishing off and rendering the final footage and he had only ever seen the first 30 minutes. There was no time to do another upload so if it had gone wrong or there was some major error it would have been in my hands.
During Saturday the final footage was sent to “Team Heap” (particularly Alexis!) who would proceed to steam it live to the world. There was a few worrying hours where I was the only one to have watched the full show, luckily before broadcast Marco was able to watch and give me the thumbs up.
It was a true highlight to watch as Imogen’s fans, herself, and the CEO of the Creative Passport gathered on different social media channels and discussed each act.