Billie Eilish’s new animated film is a love letter to her hometown of Los Angeles

“We always knew our stylised Billie would be driven by motion capture data from Billie herself,” explains Dave Hunt, “so at an early stage we wanted to make sure our 3D character was reflecting as many of Billie’s movements as accurately as possible.” This meant that, from the very precise style of her walk to the subtlety of facial expressions, it was vital that these were translated correctly to make the final performance feel like authentic Billie Eilish. “We also had Robert Rodriguez’s camera data recorded on set, so as well as Billie’s motion we also had the nuance of his camera work to use which really helped our 3D camera moves feel authentic,” continues Hunt.
Hunt explains the complex design and animation process: he says that on top of the performance capture, “there is a fairly involved process of making keyframe adjustments to the original data. Some of these might be minor polishes such as fixing eyeline or handposes, other changes may be more involved such as adjusting the speed of a performance to work better in our edit, or combining different takes from the mocap recording.” The team made good use of previsualisation on this project – this term is used to describe techniques such as storyboarding, either in the form of charcoal sketches or in digital technology, before the creation of a complex scene. “Before any of the live action shoots went ahead we were able to quickly prototype shots – experimenting with camera angle and focal length to establish key shots that we’d want to match on location in LA.”
She’s probably everyone’s favourite and least annoying pop star. In her new film, Billie Eilish is pacing around every iconic part of Los Angeles in the hopes of portraying her love for the city. In an ultra-cool animation with a very Blade Runner-meets-Matrix aesthetic, a “film noir-inspired animated Billie” guides her viewers through “her favourite corners of the city”. The cinematic concert experience will be the artist’s Disney+ debut and will feature a performance of every song in the album’s sequential order from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl.
As her hometown, Los Angeles is hugely important to Billie. The animated sequences, says Dave Hunt, the CG supervisor, were “a way of taking the audience on a dreamlike journey through LA”. Hunt goes on to tell us about the “timeless atmosphere” that exists around many of the city’s iconic places, “particularly the Hollywood Bowl”. The animated journey with Eilish becomes “a neat parallel” to the chronological performance of the album.
The film’s direction comes from Nexus’ Oscar-winning director Patrick Osborne and he’s teamed up with fellow director Robert Rodriguez. Together they’ve created a multimedia piece with live performances at The Hollywood Bowl interwoven with the animation. It’s a self-proclaimed “love letter to Los Angeles” whilst paying homage to classic Hollywood.