Puerto Rican plants and Roger Rabbit inspire these Bad Bunny concert visuals

For the singer-cum-rapper, Will Wharton and Hugo Shiboski created a hypnotising 3D world that aims to capture the essence of 2D animation.

2 May 2024


When you go to a concert you’re obviously going to see the performer. But, often, what can really tip the show from something enjoyable into something really spectacular are the visuals that accompany it. Two people with a serious knack for creating immersive work for live shows are the animators and directors Hugo Shiboski and Will Wharton, and one of their standout projects is for none other than Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper, singer and style icon who’s taken the music industry by storm.

Will and Hugo were recommended for the project by Chase O’Black from Sturdy.co, who envisioned something similar for Bad Bunny to the handmade-looking visuals the pair made a few years earlier for Louis The Child. One of the core references from Sturdy.co, the creative studio leading the Bad Bunny project, was one of his Un Verano Sin Ti album covers, a sad-looking heart standing on a multicoloured beach, created by the designer Ugly Primo. For the songs Will and Hugo were working on, Sturdy.co wanted them to evoke that similar cartoon aesthetic but in 3D form, almost creating an extension of the stage. One reference instantly jumped to mind for Will: the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The film became a core inspiration for the project, especially the song Me Porto Bonito. “We loved how these old animations anthropomorphised everything in a scene, bringing plants and inanimate objects to life,” says Will. Drawing from a specific scene – when Eddie drives through a tunnel into ToonTown – they create two worlds: a luscious jungle environment and a toon-like “undulating” environment that you end up being catapulted into.

With Bad Bunny being a proud Puerto Rican, Will and Hugo wanted to explore how the country could also inform the visuals. In Me Porto Bonito, many of the plant species are inspired by those you would find on the island, and for the song Un Ratio the visuals recreate the architecture and atmosphere of Old San Juan, a historical district of the island. For Un Ratio they also took a bit of a different approach, recreating the look of a miniature set with a storyline flowing throughout. “We came up with a loose conceptual narrative that would be told through this rolling environment,” says Hugo. “This story is about a summer fling told through figures made out of sand that are inevitably washed away in the wake of a hurricane.”

Many of the assets were sculpted and animated with VR headsets, facilitating a more “gestural” approach which in turn allows for more “organic” forms, says Will. They even recorded some of their motion to live-puppet 3D characters. Though, before starting on any of the animations, the pair were keen to dive deep into the composition of each scene, planning a clear layout. This attention to detail also allowed them to really enhance their own stylised assets. “We spent quite some time iterating on flowers, plants and waves, trying to find a simplified version of each that retained the essence of the form while fitting within our worlds,” says Hugo.

Will and Hugo impress that getting all of this done within the month and a half deadline wouldn’t have been possible without their global team, which spanned Argentina, Germany, Austria, the UK and US, with the animation studio Syro helping with the tricky ToonTown shot. “Usually we’re just in our individual 3D scenes and there’s a level of comfort and control in that, but when you bring on new people it’s a bit of an act of faith,” says Will. “Working with a big team requires a lot of trust and communication.”

So what’s it like creating work for one of the biggest pop stars today? Well, Hugo and Will both admit they actually didn’t really have much idea how massive Bad Bunny was before working on the project. “I didn’t realise how big Bad Bunny was until a few weeks into the production when I was telling some friends about the project and they completely lost it,” says Hugo. “So I started listening to more of his catalogue and got really into it – this definitely ramped up the pressure.” Though, the dedication you put in isn’t always matched in client reception. Upon finally reviewing the visuals, Bad Bunny axed some of it, including the work for the painstakingly-made Me Porto Bonito. “Obviously this was devastating, seeing as we were still jet lagged from working around the clock and ending up somewhere in the Tokyo timezone,” says Will. “However, this is just how some artists like to work, it really varies depending on who it is.”

Despite this knock – “against the will of our circadian rhythms” – the pair and their team went above and beyond to create something that found the careful balance between meeting the demands of the project, pleasing the client while also taking a few careful risks to create a piece of work they’re truly proud of.

GallerySturdy.co / Will Wharton / Hugo Shiboski: Bad Bunny World’s Hottest Tour (Copyright © Sturdy.co, 2022)

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Sturdy.co / Will Wharton / Hugo Shiboski: Bad Bunny World’s Hottest Tour (Copyright © Sturdy.co, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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