Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

The Weeknd

Es Devlin

Lesson time 07:55 min

Es selects one of her favorite live concert performances with The Weeknd—from his Legend of the Fall Tour—and breaks down how she and her collaborators translated a flight path literally into an origami folding aircraft above the audience’s heads.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Weeknd • Don't Let The Audience Down • Hold On To Great Collaborators


[MUSIC PLAYING] TEACHER: There's a kind of pattern to all pop concerts. It's a little bit like a flight path of an airplane. And it starts with liftoff. [CAMERA FLASH] If you decide that you would like to design for live music, pop concert, be that in a stadium, arena, one of the things you might want to ask yourself is, what is actually happening? What is the transference of energy? What's the phenomenon? What's actually happening when people come to a pop concert? And I think it's something like a flight path. Because, generally, it starts with liftoff. And then it kind of cruises for a while. Then, generally, there is what I call a mid-flight complication, which sometimes leads to a crash. And finally, there is repair and redemption, leading to an explosion of celebration at the end. And that, generally-- I know it sounds really generalized. But in my experience, that is the shape of most pop concerts. And when it came to The Weeknd and his Legend of the Fall Tour, the first meeting I attended, I came in with a piece of paper. And I sat in the meeting. And I folded it like this. And I said, why don't we do a tour that starts like that over the audience, then lifts off right over their heads, then takes off, then has an accident, seems to be about to crash, then crashes, there's some tragedy for a while, and then finally, it lifts off, takes off, and zooms off into the stratosphere? And that felt like a kind of model, not only of the show itself, but actually of a career, and of a life, and of many, many things. So that's what was the initial thinking behind the Legend of the Fall Tour. [MUSIC PLAYING] The first ingredient you have to work with is the audience's anticipation. They have been singing these songs. They've been living their lives to these songs. They've been getting married, they've been having children, they've been having first communions, whatever they've been doing. These songs belong to them. So they've joined the queue in the phone ticket sales. They have queued outside the building, sometimes, for two nights on end, camping. You know, their anticipation is your most important ingredient. They don't know what to expect. All they know is that they've come to see the person they've heard. They've seen him in films. They haven't been in a room with him. They want to feel his presence. And the man is as tall as he is. The room is as tall as it is. How do you mediate between the height of one human being and the number of molecules vibrating with anticipation in that room? And what this object becomes is a mediating device. It's almost like a musical instrument, actually, in its way. It's like a microphone. It's a way of taking gestures which can only be as big as the human and then translating them in the way that the speakers amplify the sound, the light beams amplify the light. How do you get physical objects to be able to amplify all of those gestures? ...

About the Instructor

For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Es Devlin

Designer and artist Es Devlin teaches you her approach to creating powerful visual stories and cultivating creativity in any form.

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