moka (Matthias Dörfelt), a German-based artist and communications student, sends along this lovely unofficial music video for Metope’s “Rebird.” A series of sound-reactive shapes begin in minimal form, then degrade and traverse a landscape of geometries and texture, in custom software built in the open-source, omni-platform OpenFrameworks.
The imagery is abstract, like splatters of paint against a surface, but interestingly, he draws some inspiration from games.
I asked Matthias a series of questions and he went ahead and posted answers on Vimeo; reproduced here.
The trick with reactive visuals is that an algorithm is rarely capable of fully executing the results you want. In fact, in this case, he did apply a certain amount of finesse, as he notes in comments:
Actually almost nothing is automatic. Even the beat detection is rather manually fiddling around to select the right frequencies and make it look good since often times I feel like when I am optimizing it for one song anyways I can also just make it “by hand”. The “storyline” is basically just driven by a huge switch statement and a timer.
And actually the concept was to make the video purely 2D in the beginning and refract it to contrast the 2D shapes with some sort of 3Dish things, the Metaballs are a pure fake 3D effect wich makes it rediculously fast. Basically you simply render some blurred textures to an FBO additivly. Then you simply do thresholding and shading in a second pass (thus it does not work in real 3D). One thing that could be interesting is the particle system I developed during the process. its basically built around emitters and affectors, and also emitters can emit other emitters, so its really powerful. I am currently working on a realtime rendering engine for creative use, so I might realease the whole thing as soon as it reaches a certain state. The main motivation is not to rewrite so much openGL code over and over again, but rather create a more data driven, maybe even scriptable system, so you can rapidly prototype more complex effects.
I want to ask what others here do, which is whether this could be applied to live and performance visuals. And it’ll be fascinating to see what people come up next week at Eyebeam for the Ghostly International / Aaron Koblin – Aaron Meyers workshop! This should give us a challenge.
Metope describes his music as “seeming to long for a transformation of their digital being into flesh, and that by bit reduction they attempt to imitate life”(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metope_%28producer%29)
The Kobol album containing the song Rebird has been one of my favourite electronic releases for a couple of years now. The delayed but otherwise pretty classic suspense curve aswell as the vital, yet minimal sound catched my attention right from the start.
Inspired by oldshool side scroller and jump’n’runs computer games I felt that a two dimensional movement would reflect the character of the song pretty well.
The songs sound has something really two dimensional and driving which gets underlined by this motion aswell.
The growing complexity and layering of the music is visually described by the emerging environment, which the three abstract lifeforms travel through. Refractive elements and layers have been used to accentuate the songs dissonant parts, and to contrast/refract the initial two dimensional look with something different.
My personal goal was to capture the whole motion as if it was an actual game/level, and thus without a single cut. Colour and gamma shifts were added to intensify the musical changes, where the simpel movement might not have been enough. They also serve to underline the suspense curve.
Finally I would like to add that in my opinion musical cognition or aesthetical perception in general is something really individual. I would never claim that this is the only correct visual interpretation of the song. It’s my personal interpretation and I hope it’s enjoyable for others too!
The Video was built in the context of the “Clips & Clicks” seminar at Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel which deals with the music video in the 21st century. Thanks to Prof. Tom Duscher, Sven Lütken and all the others giving me feedback!
My personal goal was to program the whole video myself, but instead of ending up with some sort of visualizer I decided to add a “storyline” which should reflect the characteristics of the song. I used c++(www.openFrameworks.cc) together with openGL and many GLSL shaders to achieve the look of the video. The video is not optimized for realtime use but still almost always runs at 30fps.
I experimented with raycasted isosurfaces alot in the past month. A few iterations can be seen here: vimeo.com/9597005 here vimeo.com/10271624 and vimeo.com/11447967.
When the video idea slowly came along I immediately felt that they could maybe help me out in the process of making things more organic.
The biggest advantage of writing your own software as a designer/artist is that you are not bound to the capabilities of software but rather can create anything you have in mind (even though todays creative software is really powerful and great without any doubt). Furthermore I feel like you don’t fall into software specific aesthetical patterns as much. (for instance you can often times tell that a video was created using Aftereffects)
Another very big plus is that you can easily reuse the code for live visuals, since it almost runs realtime anyways!
Unfortunately vimeo added some slight artifacts.
Thanks again to Metope of Areal Records for letting me use the song!
Now I’m also off to check out Metope and Areal!