FC Barcelona is launching an audiovisual digital artwork called In a Way, Immortal that recreates Johan Cruyff’s legendary stadium moment on December 22, 1973, when the iconic Dutch player ‘flew’ through the air to score a seminal goal against the Atlético Madrid goalkeeper Miguel Reina. The first NFT in the Club’s history, it was produced in collaboration with creative partner BCN Visuals.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are unique digital items that have changed how digital art can be collected and traded. Each NFT represents a non-interchangeable unit of data, often associated with digital files incorporating media such as photos, videos, or audio, stored on a blockchain that can be sold and transferred. It is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered, providing an irrefutable certificate of ownership for a digital item.
Digital studio BCN Visuals was tasked with developing and producing the NFT’s cinematographic aesthetic and creating the animated retelling of Johan Cruyff’s legendary goal, In a Way, Immortal, portrayed in molten gold. Crafted by a team of 40 CG and VFX artists, the 40-second film has an original soundtrack played by a 30-piece orchestra, incorporating authentic sounds from the Camp Nou stadium and FC Barcelona supporters.
“NFTs have too quickly become associated with the explosion in demand for crypto, but with In a Way, Immortal, we are bringing NFTs back into the realm of high art,” commented BCN Visuals Founder and Head of Innovation Eric Sas. “In contrast to the basic NFT GIF, this mini-movie is a genuine piece of renaissance digital art—almost a piece of marble chiseled by the most talented visual effects artists in Hollywood. This project aims to become the new benchmark for the next evolution of NFTs where new digital artworks are akin to the masterpieces of yesteryear.”
The CG and VFX team worked on all aspects of the production, from a digital sculpture of Johan Cruyff to the simulation of golden-colored fluids, textures and shading, cutting-edge cinematography, and camera work. Cruyff’s digital sculpture production required more than a thousand working hours, and the overall production entailed more than 10,000 production hours.
Elaborating on the VFX production process, BCN Visuals Co-founder & executive producer Alan Company explained, “Rather than using a streamlined production-focused pipeline, we focused on a more artistic approach. Every element was designed, sculpted, and crafted by hand, no re-useable pre-made assets, no kit-bashing, no pre-lit environments or shaders, everything was made from scratch. We did this to make sure every aspect had the signs of effort and struggle of the artists, starting from a blank digital marble canvas, and featuring the characteristics of a true art piece.”
To make the project more artisan-like with a more “handcrafted appearance” the creative team “purposely stayed away from simulations, bump, or displacement maps.” Company described how every single water droplet and splash was hand-sculpted, and every scratch on the sculpture surface was individually crafted.
He further described how the team designed the sculpture in a way to showcase the movement in the iconic kick but compressed in time, drawing inspiration from the master sculptors of the Renaissance, noting, “We achieved our look by physically sculpting the anatomy (muscles, the ligaments, the expression) of the player in tension, and by carefully adding trails of sculpted liquid on each moving element.”
Sotheby, New York, will sell the artwork via live auction on July 29. Presented in a hybrid online-live auction comprised of the one-of-one animated edition of In a Way, Immortal and an additional four NFTs that will each include a still image from the animated version, capturing an iconic moment of the legendary goal. The buyer will acquire the NFT and a series of VIP experiences with FC Barcelona.
Additional information related to the auction is available here.
Source: BCN Visuals
Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.