This Christmas, Gorillaz are treating us to a mammoth AR experience. The band will play twice in real life; first on the 17 December at Times Square, followed by Piccadilly Circus on the 18 December. These location-specific immersive experiences will see Murdoc, 2D, Noodle and Russel “tower” over audiences as they perform amidst “two iconic skylines”, a release states. The studio behind it all is Nexus, with Fx Goby and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett directing following their collaborative work on the Cracker Island music video.
When it comes to real-time animation and XR, Nexus Studios have proved its know-how time and time again. Back in 2017, it was developing the world’s first character-based AR wayfinding app – featuring a singularly chirpy guide whose hair transformed in real-time responding to external data. In 2019, Nexus was using AR to deliver a dance off between Childish Gambino and his Google Playmoji. More recently, the studio worked on another first-of-its-kind project as the animated cast from The Legend of Vox Machina took part in a live Q&A through digital puppetry.
The recent Gorillaz Presents project is made possible by Google’s new Geospatial API, which is built to enable immersive experiences at public spaces in 87 countries without requiring scanning of the physical space. According to Google, the “API opens up nearly 15 years of our understanding of the world through Google Maps and is powered by the Visual Positioning Service (VPS) and Street View”.
“We’re always excited when music and entertainment can bust out of the usual to meet fans and tell stories in new places,” says Chris O’Reilly, Nexus Studios co-founder and CCO. “Working with our friends Gorillaz and Google, this was a perfect opportunity to bring our dual passions of Real-Time animation and immersive tech together. Experiences told on top of cities at this level of visual fidelity is full of exciting promise.”
Gorillaz will perform the new Skinny Ape single at the two immersive experiences – which will happen through a new Gorillaz Presents app, available to download soon. Their upcoming album Cracker Island is launching 24 February 2023.
Gorillaz’s Murdoc Niccals offers comment on the upcoming performances: “To all our followers, get ready for the biggest Times Square takeover since that other gorilla smashed the place up. Bigger in fact cos there’s four of us. Thanks to the techies at Google, we’ve created the music video event of the century, so don your pink robes and come see Gorillaz like you’ve never seen us before. The future is nigh!”
GalleryNexus Studios / Google: Gorillaz Presents (Copyright © Gorillaz, 2022)
Nexus Studios / Google: Gorillaz Presents (Copyright © Gorillaz, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.