Sony has today unveiled a collaboration between musician Noah Cyrus and Media Molecule, who have produced her latest music video entirely within the Playstation 4 creation title Dreams. The project is the latest instalment of Sony’s brand campaign, A Sony Collaboration Series, and showcases the versatility of Dreams’ creation tools.
The project was initially planned as a more traditional video shoot, which was put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In its place, the team worked remotely with Noah Cyrus to produce an entirely music video created within Dreams – with the video’s visuals put together using a Playstation controller.
To find out more about the project, we sat down with Chris Stack, creative director at Ralph.
What makes Dreams such a good fit for a project like this?
Sony is all about spreading emotion through the power of creativity and technology. And while PlayStation is usually the vehicle for gamers to experience other people’s creativity, Dreams now provides the platform for gamers to turn into creators and not just play games, but make them too. It is this sense of creativity being inspired through technology and the endless possibilities for imagination – to create music, art, games etc – that attracted us to Dreams for the Sony Collaboration series.
How did the project come about?
For the past couple of years Ralph has worked with Sony Corp on campaigns that bring together all of the Sony divisions – Music, PlayStation, TV, Technology and Movies.
Sony’s global positioning is being a creative entertainment company built on the strong foundations of technology. With the upcoming launch of PlayStation 5, and with gamers being one of Sony’s biggest audience groups, we wanted to utilise this segment to showcase the creativity and technology of Sony’s divisions.
For this year’s campaign, we wanted to speak directly to the games audience and utilise the PlayStation technology, and the creativity of the brand. And one of the titles that really showcases both technology and creativity is Dreams.
Once we’d decided on this platform, we started to look at Sony Music artists to bring on board, and also Dreams artists who could contribute to the project too.
Noah Cyrus had just finished recording the ballad July and we knew this song lent itself perfectly to the collaboration – and Noah was excited to get involved herself. Our plan was to bring the world of Dreams into the real world by combining live action footage of her, with animations from the game.
But then COVID-19 and the lockdown hit, those plans had to take a back seat, and we had to completely rethink the output.
So, we decided to create one of the first music videos hosted within Dreams. It’s not the first, but it’s certainly the first for a major artist to be created in Dreams and utilising the community.
What are the practical challenges of directing and producing a music video, within a video game, working remotely?
There were a lot of creative people involved, but from very different fields of expertise – music, game design, development, branding, video etc – so whilst we did what everyone else has been doing these last few months with video conferences galore, it was also important to let the teams have time to develop their concepts individually, in the true spirit of collaboration. The challenges were mainly around time zones to coordinate the various opinions and find a way to mould this in to the finished video itself, whilst ensuring we were realistic with what could be achieved. That said, as we were working with the developers of Dreams itself (Media Molecule) we were always going to be in safe hands and that they would want to push the technical capabilities of the platform to showcase the possibilities.
Are there advantages to producing a music video in this way, as opposed to more conventional methods?
Dreams allows creators to build entire worlds from scratch in a matter of moments. So it’s not just a tool for music video creation, it allows for quickly testing out concepts and styles which otherwise would be too time consuming.
When watching someone build in this way Dreams seems like a natural fit for music videos; the creator is painting in the air with PlayStation wands whilst listening the track, so the visuals are seemingly danced into existence along with the music.
The project was put together in Dreams following the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, how long did this take to produce?
Coordinating all of the different teams in the different time zones was probably the most time-consuming element. But in terms of the production, it was pretty quick. Working with the team at Media Molecules, as well as Dreams community artist Martin Nebelong meant that the project had great focus, which helped move things along swiftly.
Are there further plans for collaborative works using Dreams, or other video game titles?
As part of the campaign we are always looking to find new ways of creating innovative music experiences through technology. Gaming is often at the very forefront of creativity, and as music and gaming audiences and artists cross over more, there will certainly be future Sony Collaborations in this space.