Benga’s latest video was released early last month and made the blog rounds, but it’s worth considering as we continue our ongoing thread on visual music and how sound can go from invisible to tangible. A stunning video whets fans appetite for the upcoming Benga full-length Chapter 2, constructing a wave shape in physical form as a series of vinyl records. Using some 960 hand-cut vinyl records, the track’s waveform materializes in stop motion-filmed animation.

Physical as it may be, the inspiration, say the creative team, was SoundCloud. UK-based creative team Us, consisting of Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor, explain:

When we were asked to pitch on the promo they sent us the track as a ‘Soundcloud’ link, we usually get it sent as an MP3. For the first time we were not just listening to the track we were also watching it. There was something mesmerising about this in its simplicity. This ignited the idea to create a real life three dimensional waveform. We started to think about the fact that a vast amount of our music is consumed online and has lost a sense of physicality this lead us to the idea of using vinyl records. We also loved the way it related to Benga as an artist who’s background comes from using records as a DJ or producer.

The maths worked we would need 960 records to create 1 minute and 20 seconds worth of wave form. Each one had to be individually cut to a specific size, hand labeled, hand numbered and then finally polished. This prep took 7 full working days and then the animation process took around 30 hours.

No 3D printers here: the process of making the individual, differently-sized records sounds painstaking. Us tells Creative Review:

To animate the wave form, we built it and then carefully removed each individual record. This had to be done very gently as any shift in the position of the sculpture would result in the failure of the animation and as we had to literally destroy each piece of vinyl to get it off, there was only one chance to get it right. Once the sculpture was finally built, the animation process took about 30 hours.

As you can see in the behind-the-scenes photos, actually working those records onto the pipe involved removing the far end, making this still more challenging (though adding a great deal to the impact of the effect).

This is all quite similar to another radial, sample-by-sample waveform made of physical circles we saw earlier this year:
Voice Messages Become 3D Paper Waveform Sculptures: Paper Note

Making a waveform view in the digital realm is dead-simple. But something about going to physical media makes that decision more than just afterthought, as though these creators really are touching frozen sound.

Having Benga as your soundtrack doesn’t hurt, either. You can grab this single on iTunes.

Full credits:

Directors – Us
Producer – Liz Kessler
Line Producer – Connor Hollman
DoP – Matt Fox
Gaffer – Ben Fordesman
Editor – Vid Price
Grade – Mark Horrobin
Animation – Alice Dupre
Structural consultant – Jorge Betancor
Runners – Tayo Rapoport, Paul Mckelvie, Chaelyn Allcock
Production Company – A+
Commissioner – Dan Millar
Management – Phil Hutcheon / Andrew Foggin

Behind-the-scenes photos courtesy Us.

See the full project page for lots of additional images and details:

Thanks, Andrew Cavette!