Ah, 2013. In retrospect, an idyllic time. Obama in the White House, Brexit still just a silly idea we never thought would happen, and Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead a surprise Top-10 hit. Reading back, the main thing I appeared to be angry about in 2013 was Mumford & Sons headlining Glastonbury.
It was 2013 I made the PRISMS video with Paul from 65daysofstatic. This was, unbeknownst to me at the time, to be my final work before my early retirement from the algorithmic-pop-video business, the reasons for which are another story[*]
[* short version: did a U2 video, didn’t enjoy it, went and got a proper job instead]
The idea behind PRISMS was to attempt something Alex Rutterford, the director of one of my favourite music videos Gantz Graf, had declared impossible – an entirely algorithmically generated video.
This was Rutterford’s quote: “I’d really love to be able to say … I wrote a program and it all just intelligently works it out,’ but it doesn’t exist, it’s fools gold thinking that someone can sit there writing a piece of software that can make intelligent decisions about pace and animation.”
So I wrote a bit of code partly to prove a point, partly because it needed to be turned around in a week. The sketch made all its creative decisions (camera work, movements, formations, etc…) in response to the audio track. It was given a starting state and a destination, but everything in-between was entirely algorithmic.
What I haven’t shared before now though is the original render, above, which is how it looked before Josiah at Version did his VHS-chaos thing on it. This render shows the full process as a continuous shot.
The putrid colour scheme was actually intentional. I think I was going for a kind of retro Amstrad-vibe iirc. Jos, wisely, corrected this in post.
For the more time-rich I also rendered out a version slowed down by a factor of three, below. Again, I uploaded this to Vimeo five years ago, but it had remained private until now (tbh, I’d forgotten it existed). I’m not sure exactly where I was going with this, but it has it’s own mogadon charm.
So there you have it. Proof, if needed (post-Donnie-Darko), that the directors cut is not always better than the original. I still have a lot of affection for PRISMS. Yeah, it’s no Gantz Graf, but then I doubt Gantz Graf was turned around in four days for £750.