Drake’s “It’s All A Blur Tour” is not only one of the year’s most successful, grossing $178 million on 678K tickets sold, according to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, but from a production standpoint, it’s easily one of the year’s most jaw-droppingly spectacular.
The show’s cornucopia of production delights include a flying saucer, dancing robots, a massive statue of the late great designer Virgil Abloh and giant floating figures including Peter Pan, a bride and spermatozoa. It all circles a deceivingly simple box-like stage covered in LEDs which can change surface design and includes hydraulic lifts, secret entrances and backdoors from which Drizzy emerges and delivers his certified lover boy R&B-infused raps.
Arguably, the show’s greatest feat, and certainly its most discussed, comes early in the set during “Look What You’ve Done.” Here, Drake sits on a couch addressing a younger version of himself whose face is jarringly exact to Champagne Papi’s. Many initially thought the younger Drake was a hologram, but at one point the figure hands real Drake a notebook, which holograms aren’t (yet) able to.
“It was my favorite part about being a part of the show,” says Production Resource Group’s (PRG) video project manager Daniel Monnier who oversaw the tour’s video. “The very first big media headline was, ‘How Did They Get a Young Drake on Stage?’ There was all this speculation. And we had known for a month or two that that was part of the show. That alone was a cool integration of an incredibly evolutionary technology that’s coming in and will now be in every designer’s mind moving forward in 2024.”
The “deep-fake” technology involved PRG’s cameras capturing the scene and sending it to a third-party company that transformed the face of the actor, who already resembled Drizzy, into Drake’s younger face. That image is then fed back to the PRGs LED processors and projected onto the concert’s LED screens.
As video project manager, PRG’s Monnier says his main focus is on the cameras, the LED screens wrapping around the stage, the floor, the lifts and hanging, the six media servers and the infrastructure involved in sending all these signals.
“It was the biggest arena tour I’ve ever done, hands down, no question,” Monnier says. “And I’ve been a part of some big stadium tours, which are inherently monstrous. This one was absolutely the most challenging, scaling it to be where it needed to be and doing it three times a week in and out.”
Monnier also worked in tandem with Drake’s creative team. “I worked really closely with Guy Pavelo (the tour’s creative director and head of GP-SK Design with Steve Kidd) on the front end, doing concepts and ideas. His brain is always going, always rolling. And fortunately for us, we have such a high inventory of gear he’s very fluent in and there’s a lot of creative bouncing of ideas, ‘Will this work? Will that work? What’s my limitations?’ kind of thing.” Typically, Monnier says, working previously with Pavelo, a lot of ideas get cut from the production; this time thankfully most of it stayed.
Monnier, who’s worked for PRG for 10 years, calls “It’s All A Blur Tour,” a “crowning achievement.” He says, “I told my personnel on this gig, the sheer amount of success we had on this tour was hard to even grasp from everything we had done. A lot of times we’re chasing some small errors at the beginning and it takes a couple of shows to refine. Right out the gate, it was a flawless show every time. It’s very impressive. And that’s not just on the video side. The level of success was astonishing.”