The 2018 League of Legends World Championship had one hell of an opening ceremony thanks to a live performance that blended AR characters with real performers.
Over past decade, Riot Games, the team behind the insanely popular multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends, has evolved from a simple video game developer and esports tournament organizer into a full-fledged, multimedia production company. The Tencent subsidiary has produced various high-quality CGI cinematics, produced original music via an in-house music production studio, and collaborated with numerous high-profile acts; most recently The Glitch Mob, Mako, and Bobby of K-pop group iKON.
This past Saturday, however, Riot officially went above and beyond its usual offerings with a one-of-a-kind opening ceremony that featured the companies new virtual K-pop quartet, K/DA, dancing and singing alongside live performers on-stage.
While performing the K/DA original track “POP/STARS,” Soyeon and Miyeon of K-pop girl group (G)I-dle, and American singers Madison Beer and Jaira Burns, were joined on-stage by their League of Legends in-game personas, Kai’Sa (Burns), Akali (Soyeon), Ahri (Miyeon) and Evelynn (Beer), each rendered as augmented reality characters. While the ladies of K/DA were invisible to the naked eye, the group could be seen performing in sync with the real-world talent on the venues jumbotron and via the official live stream.
“We believe there’s a huge overlap between League of Legends, esports overall and the music industry,” Viranda Tantula, creative lead at Riot Games, told Billboard. “We’ve invested in building our internal music team with both an artist focused creative studio full of composers, songwriters and producers, as well as people who can perform all the services that you would see at a standard music label, such as distribution, A&R and promo.”
Based on the information provided, it appears as though the group recorded their motion capture routine ahead of time and choreographed the live performance to work in tandem with their digital counterparts.
Seeing as Soyeon, Miyeon, Beer, and Burns each provided motion capture performances for their respective characters, the quartet was able to inject a bit of personality and charm into each of their digital twins.
“I tried to feel like Akali and move as if I were Akali during the motion caption,” added Soyeon. “When I saw the result through the music video and the AR, I was very surprised because of how realistic Akali’s movements and facial expressions looked.” About performing, she said, “I was so happy to be offered and have an opportunity to be in part of the opening ceremony of renown LoL Worlds!! Not only Jaira and Madison, but also with the AR characters, I really wanted to be on the stage together.”
“When I first heard the guide demo version of ‘POP/STARS’, and when I first saw the character, Ahri, I really wanted to participate in this great collaboration and do it well,” added Miyeon. “For me, especially, motion capture was so new and a good experience. I was so surprised to see my dancing moves and lip being applied to the character Ahri. As I started this great collaboration project, I learn more about LoL and Ahri and I actually played LoL with Ahri to understand the character.”
As if an ambitious mixed reality performance wasn’t enough, Riot also dropped an official music video to “POP/STAR” which has already accumulated an impressive 14M views (1M of which are from me) since its original November 3rd release.