Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds

Working alongside the celebrated composer Jeff Wayne for eight years now, AR Media have covered four arena tours and one west end show of the award-winning musical version of The War Of The Worlds. The TWOTW album won two Ivor Novello Awards along with The Best Recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy, (the judges here included Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Alfred Hitchcock!).

AR Media have been working to deliver the live visual and audio feast of Jeff conducting live to an audience of die-hard fans. Jason Donovan, a long term member of the cast says “It’s an incredible piece of music and such a wonderful story, I don’t think there are too many shows that you can go and see in a big arena that are like this. It has a big, epic cinematic quality to it.” Brian McFadden (who played “The sung thoughts of the Journalist in 2014) added, “I can’t think of a musical bigger, the size and epicness; it’s a movie turning into life on stage.”.

Being a unique show, the relationship and work AR Media have completed have been far from the norm, here is a brief history of (as Jeff calls it) our:

“ULLA, back to war!”

Some of our CGI

Here is a sample of some of the CGI that AR Media have created for The War of The Worlds over the years.

No one would have believed…

In the last years of the 20th century, a young boy gripped his bed sheets in terror as Jeff Wayne’s pioneering musical told the story of The War of The Worlds on an old flip-top record player. 40 years on and that small boy now leads a successful creative agency that has had the honour of producing all the CGI, TV commercials and augmented reality projects for Jeff over the past eight years.

Rob Fairhurst, Director of AR Media points out; ‘A lot of time and effort goes into every rendition, from all the pre-production meetings, technical rehearsals and months of production time, to the terabytes of data required to deliver visuals over multiple, arena-sized screens whilst remaining sensitive to the guest artists performance on stage’.

From 2012, Creative Director Lennah Seelig has overseen the team from project managers and account managers to 2D and 3D editors, storyboard artists and camera operators all sharing the same passion and creativity for the musical masterpiece that is now as much the fans vision as it is Jeff Wayne’s.

Here are some of the highlights of AR Media’s relationship with Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds.

For the 2018 tour, AR Media team brought Jeff’s vision to life across multiple huge projections enhancing engagement with the audience and re-imagined a much darker, more sinister feel across the imagery in general but with particular focus on the Martian himself. The team pushed developments ever harder to visualise Jeff’s very specific idea of how each and every sound should appear, making full use of live capture, green screen, After Effects, PremierePro, D3 (now known as Disguise). New scenes were blended in featuring the escaping train and clock tower, both filmed on location by drones and a tent scene filmed in the studio received the special effects treatment to lift it from the green screen and be realised as an enormous refugee camp.

Bill Kenwrights show poster with AR Media

2016 saw Jeff Wayne’s The War of The Worlds take residency at the Dominion Theatre in London under the careful eye of renowned West End Theatre Producer, Bill Kenwright. Having worked with AR Media for so long, Jeff had the confidence to stand back and let the AR team adapt graphics developed for what had historically been a live arena tour into a gripping theatre experience, safe in the knowledge that they would keep true to the essence of his original story.

With songs being tailored for theatre and an immersive audience experience Including 9 roll drops and 3 gauze drops at the heart of the project, the AR team worked relentlessly to ensure the CGI added to the narrative and brought wonder to the story whilst always remaining complementary to the action happening live, on stage.

2014 heralded the Voice of Humanity. As TWOTW had evolved over the years it was time to tell the story of the man on the street and how events affected them and an excellent opportunity for AR Media to bring H.G.Wells to life! Extensive use of green screen technology saw Callum O’Neill transformed from the modern day actor we know him as today into the ageing narrator H.G.Wells himself.

2014 Also allowed Jeff bought the author of the original story and his voice into the show,

Green screen and prosthetics help Callum O’Neill become H.G.Wells and represent the voice of humanity. we created an environment whereby HG wells could have that voice in the show….

Find out more here.

2012 saw one of the biggest landmarks in TWOTW history. Whilst Richard Burton’s uniquely deep tones will always be synonymous with the opening lines of TWOTW, Jeff was keen to expand the narrative and make the Journalist visible. With only one man ever in mind, Liam Neeson stepped up to continue Richard’s legacy, giving a legendary performance on the green screen in New York.

The AR team were critical in developing new scenes, weaving the journalist’s visuals into the well-established narrative we experience today. Underwater special effects, vignettes and the famous stage hologram have all benefited from the experience of the AR team.

2012 – Collaboration with Sony Music UK and Ian Emes. Jeff teamed up with Sony Music UK to recreate the original The War of The Worlds album, which having been created in 1978 was influenced by the disco era that was king at that time. Besides expanding the score in the new Next Generation album, Jeff created a sound that reflected today’s world and for this new sound came the rerelease of the hit single Forever Autumn sung this time by Gary Barlow.

Multi award-winning, Ian Emes was commissioned by Sony to direct the music video to accompany the single. AR Media were delighted when approached by Ian to continue their work on the CGI. Ian and his team supplied raw footage and worked with the AR Media team to then create the visual effects in keeping with TWOTW look and feel.

2010 BREATHING LIFE INTO STILL IMAGES. AR Media take the existing, mostly still imagery and bring it to life with walking Martian Fighting Machines, heat rays and the horrific martian himself.

2010 – DESIGN OF A WHOLE NEW PREQUEL. AR Media create an entire opening sequence set with the Martians on Mars, drawing up their plans against humanity.

Back to where it all started in 2010. A young man attends a meeting set up by his business partner for what he thought was to be a music video. Only to arrive at Jeff Wayne’s house as reality dawns on what this meeting is really about. 8 years on, the directors of AR Media are always honoured to be involved, eager to add new perspectives during those early creative sessions and always manage to come in on budget year after year.

As Rob fondly recalls, ‘I always had a dream to work on a musical and have a live audience but would never have imagined of this opportunity’… and yet, across the Gulf of London, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this creative agency with envious eyes, and slowly and surely they drew their plans alongside us.

Agency: AR Media Ltd.
Commissioned in Jul 2018


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