Indie band of Montreal uses cool tech like Kinect and Google SketchUp for its psychedelic live show.
For its upcoming tour, indie rock band of Montreal created a trippy visual show using Microsoft’s Kinect and Google SketchUp.
“I envisioned a video production that would be highly psychedelic and immersive, one that would enhance the darker aspects of our new material, but would also have the capacity to lift people’s spirits in a very powerful and transportive way,” of Montreal‘s frontman Kevin Barnes said in an e-mail to Wired. “I feel very proud to be a part of this Herculean art organism every night on tour.”
LISTEN: ‘Feminine Effects’ by of Montreal
Each song of Montreal will play on the tour, which begins Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida, will be augmented by a unique visual element made from 300 images created by Barnes, his wife Nina Barnes and his brother David Barnes. To get the images up on the stage’s 13 screens, Kevin Barnes turned to production designer Nick Gould, who used the Xbox 360′s Kinect attachment to turn the movements on the stage — whether from the band or dancers — into data the computers operating the projected visuals can translate.
The result may look like a bad trip at a Jefferson Airplane show 40 years ago, but it brings songs from the band’s new album Paralytic Stalks to life in freaky new ways — an appropriate choice for an Athens, Georgia, band known for its crazy musical experimentation.
“There is a rapidly expanding online community of people who have been able to use the Microsoft Kinect to do really amazing things,” Gould said in an e-mail. “Thanks to their hard work, we have been able to adapt what is essentially a toy to be a part of our video show.”
To design the show, Gould used Google’s amateur modeling software SketchUp — “3-D modeling for dummies,” as the production designer calls it. After watching just a few online tutorials, he was able to make a quick model of the set and determine what everything would look like in the real world.
His SketchUp designs came in handy when the band tried out its new stage show recently on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The SketchUp model let Gould see how the stage’s geometry worked with his designs and let him tell the TV show’s producers exactly what they would need. On the day of the shoot, everything went like clockwork, with no previous rehearsal.
“When I walked into the studio the day before for the tech walkthrough, all I did was bust out my iPad and I was able to zoom around a scale model of what our performance was going to look like in their studio, right down to the inch,” Gould said.
Check out the band’s trippy Fallon performance in the video below and listen to an exclusive of Montreal track — “Feminine Effects,” the B-side to the band’s 7-inch Record Store Day release with Deerhoof — above.