Showing posts with label Surveillance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Surveillance. Show all posts



I'm pleased to release Dysco into the wild! It's kind of experimental, it's set in the near future and is about synesthetic neon-dubstep shapes in a surveillance state.

You can watch a demo of a live version of Dysco here. You can also watch a Making-Of which has a rather long blog post underneath it if you're interested in the process, technical stuff or the ideas behind it.  You can also download some clips from Dysco (the ones I used in the live demo) here and if you're into Cinema 4D you can download the Police State Fun Pack with lots of 3D models I used in the film.

Dysco Live Demo

This is a demo of the 'live' version of my short Dysco. It's a lot of fun to play with and I think with some work it could be really cool in a live context. It's sort of like playing an instrument and in the demo above I'm really just hitting stuff at random. I haven't really got to grips with it yet, it's just to show an indication of what's do-able.

Technically it's mainly relying on Ableton Live's ability to play clips in it's timeline and OSCulator to enable Touch OSC on the iPhone. Most of the work really is in making the clips. I've been using VDMX a little as well, trying to add visual effects which work in sync with the audio tweaks but I always tricky to get to grips with. It is more than possible, again, it just needs some time.

You can find out more about Dysco here.

The Making of Dysco

 This post is about making Dysco and some of the process and thought that went into it. 

Dysco is a self-initiated experimental 3D animation. I didn't really know what 'experimental' meant when people used it to describe their work, but now I think I have a better idea. To me it means that you're in somewhat uncharted territory, that you can't plan a map ahead but have to feel your way forward. This happened whilst making Dysco mainly because of the technical challenge of producing super-tightly synchronised animation to music. Planning out something so technically and conceptually complex befuddled me so I just resorted to just making little chunks at a time and then working it out later. This approach also allowed me to try out lots of different ideas and techniques and slot them in later. Unfortunately it also led to a somewhat fuzzy narrative thread but it did, in the end, allow the animation to be made. 

Initially I aimed to make an abstract animation concerned only with synchronising shapes and sound. But the environments kept getting darker, influences from the real world crept in, especially the Snowdon leaks, the Arab Spring and maybe just the fact of living in London, the most surveilled city in the world. A lot of themes are also present from my earlier (and very stylistcally different) film Nothing To Fear. (Watch it here)

I spent a long time detailing the world of Dysco. Everything has a reason for being, for example the lampposts have solar panels and anti-climb spikes to stop interference with the cameras. The graffiti references various hacker groups and movements such as Lulsec and Anonymous.  'Freedom' or 'Resistance' is plastered on the walls in Turkish, Cantonese and Korean. The drones and security apparatus are branded with parodies of major tech companies, FreeSec is based on the Google Chrome logo whilst Omni is a parody of Facebook.

Musically it proved tricky to work with composers as I needed such specific sounds and timings. There was a lot of R&D to do and the audio and visuals were so interdependent that in the end it turned out to be easier to compose the audio myself. I hadn't a lot of experience in creating music so I had to learn some new software but it was a lot of fun. It really made me realise how much dedication and craft is needed to make well produced music. When I'd finally cut the film together Dom from Toot! took my audio and made it sound professional. He used my noises as a guide for timing and replaced or processed them and did a lot of work on sound design and mixing as well as adding lots of formant shifting to give it a nice glitchy quality. 

Many of my early tests were automated animation driven by the audio. In the end the majority of the animation was done manually but there are still some automated sections. This was because I was doing such small sections of animation there was no real need automate it, it in fact was harder to create generative systems than it was to just key it by hand. I think audio driven animation is an interesting area and something I'll continue to explore, it'd be particularly good for making semi-automated music videos or even in live performances. 

The environments are based on photographs I took around London. I used Cinema 4D's Projection Man tool to project it onto geometry and then I began populating it with futuristic buildings, barbed wire and drones. Before building anything in 3D I generally researched in online and sketched it out by hand. 

Most of the animation and particle work was created in Cinema 4D. I used After Effects to composite and add in extra effects and Premier to arrange and edit everything. I found the integration between After Effects and Premier CC surprisingly good. 

I used Thinking Particles and Xpresso a lot for the early automation tests but soon I was mainly keyframing the animation and X-Particles became my new particle plug-in of choice. It's a powerful tool and a lot of fun, if you're into that type of thing :) 


Thoughts On Surviellance

I decided to make a post about my thoughts on modern mass surveillance as it's something I've thought about a lot whilst making my latest short 'Dysco'. I've done this in part because the message and narrative in Dysco is somewhat ambiguous and this may help clarify the thought processes behind it.

Due to the revelations of Edward Snowdon it is clear that we are building a vast transnational system of surveillance. A system that is already far more massive and sophisticated that I could have imagined even in my supposedly paranoid moments. And that growth will continue to accelerate.

I do not particularly hold with the assurance that 'if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear.' (A subject I touched on in a previous short I made.) Do you trust the government to hold immense quantities of your personal information? And if you believe in governments benevolent intentions do you trust every one, of the many thousands, of employees and contractors of the government? Do you trust the commercial entities with which this information will be shared? Do you believe that this information couldn't be used for financial gain? That sometimes these institutions don't act in ways that are dangerous and damaging to the individual? Do you believe it is impossible for them to be seduced by the promise of easy profit?

---->> Click here to read the rest <<----


Nothing To Fear

Here's a personal project I've been working on for some time so I'm pleased to be able to post it up. Be sure to flip it to full screen when viewing as it's in HD.

Many thanks to Ben Ash from Candle Music for composing a beautiful piece of music and creating the sound effects. Also many many thanks to Ólafur Arnalds, Erased Tapes and Nettwerk Music Group for allowing me to use Ólafur's amazing music. It really did help set the whole atmosphere and feel of the piece. You can download them for free here.