Pentakill | Next Level Direction with Mill Director Rogier Schalken

After we pulled back the red curtain on Pentakill's epic virtual concert, we sat down with the people who made it happen.
Thought September 23, 2021

What were your initial thoughts when you received the brief from Riot Games to create this virtual concert?

Holy s@#t! Forty-five minutes of real-time epicness for Riot Games? Sign me up.

In all honesty, it was a bit overwhelming to know we had to pull off forty-five minutes of full real-time CG with live performances, environment and stage design, and a complicated narrative story wrapped up in a concert, within three months during a pandemic. But the chance to be a part of something new and exciting always takes over so I didn’t have to think twice about it.

There were a lot of creative partnerships and technologies to employ for this project, how was it participating in this giant collaboration?

Quite relaxed actually which was great. Everybody knew we were working on something new which drove a very positive mindset. No big ego’s stood in the way of having open discussions between all of the departments. Everybody was heavily involved and spoke out if they thought something could be improved. The client (Riot Games) was also very open to any input we gave which created a very open and creative atmosphere. No idea was too crazy to propose.

Rogier and the team behind-the-scenes

What are your key learnings from working on Pentakill?

I think one of the best decisions we made is bringing in Stufish and Creative Director Lee Lodge. Both are experts in directing and setting up concerts for the biggest names in the music industry. I learned so much about what makes a concert great. Mixing that with Sally Reynolds (co-Director) and me who were tasked with merging that into a total narrative CG animated story, was a great collaboration. Big shout out to everybody at Stufish and Lee Lodge, in particular Ric Lipson who was on every call till the very end.

What was your favourite aspect of working on this project?

Aside from working with an amazing team, I really like to be hands-on when it comes to the previz. Because of time pressure, I jumped in and animated a few songs myself. Which is great for getting ideas for how to animate the camera and set up the story. So while it was midnight in New York and LA, I was trying out things in 3D and presented that later on in the day.

Stufish environment concept

Do you think the future of live entertainment will look more like Pentakill?

Real life concerts will never be replaced, but for virtual concerts I hope the Pentakill project is a step forward. Especially because it mixes elements from traditional concerts with a larger narrative story. In a virtual 3D space you have more freedom so you’re not fixed to one physical space so this definitely opens up a world of possibilities.

Has this inspired you to explore more metaverse projects in the future?


How has traditional concert stagecraft impacted the process for this project?

What we realized early on is that you can’t suddenly change the rules of what makes a good concert. That’s why we pulled in Stufish and Lee Lodge. What you can do is add a larger narrative story and do magical or epic things that are hard to pull off in real life. This was built around or on top of the traditional rules of a concert.

What do you think the future holds for virtual musical performances and concerts, for performers and audience?

This is hard to judge because this was my first big virtual concert, but I’m hoping that people won’t see it as a possible replacement (because that will not happen) but rather as an addition to real concerts. This concert goal was to launch a new album, create a hype around it, and give something back to the fans. I believe this could be applied to every artist or band.

Get in touch with us to find out more about Pentakill or to discuss a potential Experience project here. You can also view more of Rogier’s work here.