While playing "The Beatles: Rock Band," players will see computer-generated scenes of the Fab Four performing their hits. Since the Beatles existed in a time before the popularity of the music video, the developers of the game were forced to retroactively make music videos for the iconic songs to play throughout the game. MTV News spoke to Josh Randall, the creative director behind the game, to understand the challenges of bringing Beatles songs into a video era.
"We had to come up with full music videos for over 20 Beatles songs," Randall said. Some of the "videos" in the game are reused for the 45 songs in the game, with lip-synching and animation changes depending on the tune. "[It's] a daunting task, especially when you think most people, when they listen to this music, they've always had a picture in their head of what a particular song means to them. So it was up to us to come up with visuals that met or exceeded those expectations. We knew this was going to be a pretty big challenge."
But it's one thing to re-create the iconic scenes from, say, Shea Stadium or the Ed Sullivan Theater. It's another thing entirely when you want to capture the Beatles' psychedelic era.
"With our previous 'Rock Band' games, we've sort of nailed showing a band performing onstage," Randall said. "We've got that down. We know how to do that rather quickly. But [with 'The Beatles: Rock Band'], taking them to fantastic new locations was a lot of trial and error on our part — the technology to make it work but also aesthetically where they should go. We wanted it to be psychedelic, but Apple [Corps] and Giles Martin were like, 'Don't do old psychedelic stuff. We want to come up with new imagery that's psychedelic. You don't want to do, like, the trippy melting stuff.' We're definitely all inspired by that stuff, so we tried to inject it here and there, but we tried to make it more modern psychedelic."
The end results are some of the strangest visuals to ever grace a video game.
Randall has some personal favorites that really pushed the boundaries. " 'I Am the Walrus' is really out there. It was this weird promotional film that they made, so we took our cues from that and kept pushing. Some of the trippier ones we have in there are 'Within You Without You/ Tomorrow Never Knows' and 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.' They're like these journeys through psychedelic space, for lack of a better definition. I love playing those in the game. We've been trying here for years to play with more psychedelic musical stuff, so it was really great for the art team to embrace that stuff and push it forward."
For more on "The Beatles: Rock Band," check out Multiplayer.MTV.com.