65daysofstatic - PRISMS - directors cut

matt zb, aug 2018

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 only 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 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 the PRISMS video 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 system I wrote made all its creative decisions (camera work, movements, formations, etc...) in response to the audio track. It was given a starting state and an end state, but everything in between was entirely algorithmic.

What I haven't shared before now though is the original render, before Josiah at Version did his VHS chaos thing on it, which 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 the edit.

Another unsung hero, who wasn't credited at the time, was Frederick "W:Blut" Vanhoutte, whose Hemesh polygonal mesh library was the sturdy sandbox upon which my cack-handed hacking took place.

For the time-rich of you out there I also rendered out a version slowed down by a factor of three, below. Again, this was uploaded five years ago, but I'm sharing it now for the first time. I'm not sure where exactly I was going with this, but it has it's own mogadon charm.

Proof, if needed post-Donnie-Darko, that a 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 knocked out in four days for £750.