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SoundSpectrum on tour with George Michael
SoundSpectrum is on tour with George Michael!

Symphonica: The Orchestral Tour SoundSpectrum visuals are currently being showcased on George Michael's newest tour, Symphonica: The Orchestral Tour. With 63 concert tour dates scheduled throughout the UK and Europe, SoundSpectrum teammates Paul Brower and Mike Figarelli were on hand to create and customize graphics from our new music visualizer Aeon, for display on a huge LED video screen behind George and the orchestra.

For a better idea of how much SoundSpectrum was involved in creating this stunning multimedia experience, below is a blog entry about our side of the tour from George Michael's official website (reposted with permission) written by the tour blogger, Beverly Wooding. And, of course, to try out our Aeon visualizer, click here!

The Visual Team
October 6th, 2011

There are some very cool visuals that accompany the songs performed during Symphonica, so we thought we'd introduce you to the team behind the other eye candy. Lindsay talked with Mike Figarelli and Paul Brower, earlier in the tour, to find out more about them and their work.



Paul and Mike work for US-based SoundSpectrum, and worked together to create everything you see behind George and the musicians during the show. Mike has been a Software Engineer with the company for a year and a half, while Paul has been with them as Director of Marketing and Communications for just over three years. For Symphonica, he is doing the project management and the communication side of things. When asked exactly what SoundSpectrum does, Paul says, in a nutshell, "We develop audio visualizer software for personal and commercial uses."

He then asks, "Ever use iTunes?" Well then you've seen their work. SoundSpectrum developed the original iTunes visualizer, which Mike describes as, "a program whose graphics move to music." Paul adds, "that's what got the company off the ground and provided the money to become a full-fledge company", which happened officially in 2000.



In addition to Symphonica, are you wondering who else's tours the guys have provided screen visuals for? Paul lists acts such as Aerosmith, Journey, Herbie Hancock, Michael W. Smith, and Peter Frampton. As to how they got involved with Symphonica, George had originally used a similar piece of their software on the 25Live tour called WhiteCap, which "is like a wire mesh that responses to the music, which was projected onto the stage" Paul explains.

Then back in May of this year, "George thought of us again for this tour and called us up. From there, I exchanged emails with Ken and Lisa [from the production team]. They would send me songs just to provide demo videos for." And from that set of songs that would possibly be played on the tour, SoundSpectrum then created proof-of-concept videos. At the end of June 2011, Paul flew out to London to meet with George and go over the software, when he "quickly realized that [George] was enamoured with one of our software titles: Aeon."

After showing George four songs, all set to different visuals, they went through the library they have of scenery they've done for other musicians, which George loved. He also had his own ideas, both specific and general. Though George had specific ideas about which scenes could go with which songs, real content wasn't generated until early August when Mike and Paul returned to London. Because they work in different branches of the SoundSpectrum office, it was also the first time the two coworkers met in person!



Says Paul, "our software has some very specific scenes, but they can be controlled to move or transition based on a text-based script. We can synchronize our content to whatever music they use." To which Mike added, "our content naturally responds with colour, movement, brightness, speed and audio reactivity."

The visuals for "Through" and "Where I Hope You Are", for example, are highly customized, and specific to this tour. Almost every visual scene in the set list has been modified in some way to meet George's vision. For example, George isn't a big fan of the colour purple but "he's a big fan of red and blue", which is then reflected in the visual side of the show. Paul and Mike have worked with the lighting guys to come up with specific colour schemes based on lights as well.



The team can prescribe what happens when in the show; when certain transitions happen. Mike created a lot of the original content for Aeon, so when George has specific requests for tweaks and edits, Mike handles those. He also had some specific concepts for certain songs as well. Paul says that George has been very specific with certain imagery. On "Patience", the satellite was George's idea. With "Praying For Time", he wanted a sun, a feeling of being out in space with a large, heavenly body, "so we repurposed one of our existing scenes to do that." And when it comes to the look of Symphonica, George gives the final approval, but the lighting team -George and Baz -and Rich on video also have some input into what Paul and Mike do.

When asked what their favourite visuals are currently in the show, both of the guys picked "Through" and "Russian Roulette", with Mike specifying "'Where I Hope You Are' is my favourite. It looks good and it really fits the song."



But with new songs being added into rotation all the time, calling for new visuals, those choices can easily evolve. Paul and Mike are also continuing to tweak andr improve on existing videos, so the work continues even though Mike returned to Austin after Mannheim, and Paul to New York after Madrid. But while they were on the road, both guys definitely enjoyed the experience of being on tour. They both found it "extremely interesting," and also "enjoyable and memorable" for their first time out on the road like this.

Thanks to Paul and Mike for taking time to speak with Lindsay about their process and experience, and to Lindsay for providing me her notes for this blog!

Until Antwerp,
Bev


If you would like to read more reports just like this from George Michael’s Symphonica tour, visit GeorgeMichael.com and become an Æccess subscriber today. Not only does your subscription give you access to a behind-the-scenes tour blog but you’ll also receive first access to ticket presales and an exclusive gift.

To stay up-to-date with everything George Michael, join the GeorgeMichael.com mailing list, “like” the official George Michael Facebook page and follow George on his personal Twitter account!
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