Madonna, Kasiuha, concert, tour, worldwide, AI, artificial intelligence, technology


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Written by Ellie Powers

When most people hear AI, they run the other way. When multi-hyphenate Sasha Kasiuha hears AI, he runs straight into the melee. Kasiuha’s main advice to those who fear the implications and complexities of the technology boils down to this: “Just play.” The Ukrainian former-chemical-engineer-turned-filmmaker argues that while the AI process requires good taste, editing and communication skills, at the end of the day, “The more you play,” Kasiuha urges, “the more you know the pros and cons of certain tools and features and whether it works or not. It’s like a good car, the more you run it, the better it feels.”

For Madonna’s World Celebration Tour, Kasiuha pitched AI-models as a creative solution for quickly crafting engaging concert visuals. He faced two challenges that could not be addressed by a traditional CG approach – time and style. He said, “CG is amazing; it’s a complicated tool, so the work requires artists that are highly skillful, and it takes a lot of time. Because we were dealing with a live tour, we wanted edits the next day or the day after.” He went on to describe how, “CG looked a little too flat, one-dimensional, so we tried to use AI to create something in the realm of the show and the surreal style Madonna was after.” 

For “Take A Bow,” Kasiuha used both image to image and text to image models to create a three-minute film that takes the viewer through a surreal world based on Japanese art. He engaged Midjourney first to create the base image then adjusted the image in Photoshop AI to the proper scale for the pixel map. Then he inputted the image into Runway, supplemented the image prompt with the text to video function, and played with camera motion, motion graphics, and other tools to create the animations. From over seven-hundred video outputs, Kasiuha selected what worked and edited them together for the final product. 

He describes the intention to “lean more into an animated world in a watercolor style where everything feels surreal – the trees turn into clouds. It’s all organic.” This section of the concert is meant to transport, in a spiritual sense, and the AI-generated visuals mirrored that style seamlessly. Kasiuha’s work for this tour proves the versatility of such models and shows the spectacle of what can be done with AI for a big environment, not just the small screen.

While Kasiuha developed the visuals for the World Celebration tour on his own, he is also one half of director-duo SKNX (with director Nuno Xico). Together they have directed and edited several projects for Madonna including the Harbor-produced VMAs opening film celebrating Madonna’s 40th Anniversary which leant heavily on practical effects: a vintage taxi, an epic crane shot in Time Square in the middle of a hot summer night as the billboards lit up with her famous music videos.   

Harbor Executive Producer of Live Action, Kelly Broad, said of working with the duo, “I’m always fascinated by their imagination and how they create visuals in a truly unique way. When working with our clients, they have a talent for demystifying their approach from the start, so we can marvel at what they’ve created while appreciating what it took to get there.”

Even when experimenting with AI technologies, the creative legwork of filmmaking is still required. Kasiuha sees himself integrating AI into his process more and more as it is always improving. He has figured out his own formula, but acknowledges that “it works for certain projects, certain ideas, concepts.” This sentiment is perhaps best expressed in Kasiuha’s own words, “AI is a tool. Get over it.” 

To book Directors Sasha Kasiuha and Nuno Xico (aka SKNX) contact Kelly Broad,