Brainfeeder's 3D Animator Beeple Debuts His New Audiovisual Masterpiece
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The central concept behind Beeple‘s animations is that all the sound should correspond to all the visuals. This is a rule that’s taken for granted in animated film, but for animated music videos it has revolutionary implications. A popular early example of this is Michel Gondry‘s video for Daft Punk’s “Around The World,” with each sound represented by a group of similarly costumed individuals. Beeple’s “IV.10” puts this very concept into overdrive with visual sound representations that cooperate to make a song in a Super Mario World-like environment.
Beeple is probably best known for the animation he created for Flying Lotus’ “Kill Your Coworkers” video, in which a seemingly innocent robot parade turns into a bloody “Kill All Humans” mission. The blocky characters are signature Beeple fare, also seen in his animation “Subprime.”
Perhaps the reason you don’t see more videos like Beeple’s is that creating such a synchronized audiovisual project is a painstaking process. To make something that looks really good requires great discipline and a meticulous eye, not to mention the skill for both audio production and animation. After seeing a sneak preview for IV.10, we sought out the man behind it and got some insights on how he works.
The Creators Project: In your newest animation IV.10, there’s a whole lot happening. Can you describe what we’re seeing, and how it relates to what we’re hearing?
Beeple: Basically you are seeing everything that is happening musically. The video and audio are meant to have a one to one correlation so that you can see every note of what happens in a piece of music.
How did you go about constructing this audiovisual world, and how long did it take you?
This took about one year working in my spare time. First, I designed the individual instruments and then I did sound design for those instruments. Then I took all of those little sound design samples and constructed a song out of them. I then took that song and sequenced it out in Cinema 4D, a 3D animation program. So as you can see, there was quite a bit of back and forth between the visuals and the audio.
instrumental video nine
Tell us about the thesis you wrote nine years ago and why that central concept has stayed with you for so long.
The thesis I wrote, “Instrumental Video For Instrumental Music,” to me has been sort of a guiding force in my work for quite some time now. I really like it when audio and video are tightly synced and it is something that seems obvious to me now. The basic tenet of the paper is that all audio and all video should correspond exactly. If something, anything, happens in the music, it should have some visual representation. Usually that results in video that is very dense and has a lot going on, but I feel like that really helps illustrate all of the little nuances in a piece of music that it might be hard to individually discern. I feel just as strongly about this idea as I did nine years ago and I feel like this is probably something I’ll still be working on nine years from now.
You created a bright yet dark world for Flying Lotus’ “Kill Your Coworkers.” Can you tell us about how you conceived of that world and how it relates to the song?
We were sort of going for an innocent ultra-violent look and feel with that piece. The goal was to have something that was playful but at the same time had a bit of a dark edge to it as the song itself has a very happy sound, but a very dark title.
Flying Lotus – “Kills You Coworkers”
Your early videos relied on a simpler style of animation than your current works. Can you describe your evolution as an animator?
Well, I feel like I’ve just sort of learned new programs and techniques like anyone else over time. The animations and videos I made 10 years ago were the best I could do back then just as the ones I do now are the best I can do at the moment. I really hope 10 years from now that I look back at the stuff I’m doing now as looking very simple and rudimentary. I feel like making the push to 3D animation really opened things up for me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn and something with so many distinct and unique disciplines (modeling, animation, rigging, lighting, simulations, particles, compositing, etc.) that there is more than enough variety to keep me interested.
You’ve released a number of free VJ packs. What do those look like? What’s their purpose, and the ideology behind them?
Well you can see what they look like on my Vimeo channel, and all of these are available as Creative Commons releases to download for free and use however you’d like for commercial and non-commercial use. There is quite a wide range of looks to them as some were made for more chill music and some for high energy stuff. Their purpose is just help people out and make visuals overall look better. I’ve also released most of the Cinema 4D project files these are based on and you can download as well here.
I have also released the entire Cinema 4D project file for IV.10 so people can download this and see exactly how the film was made. You can also use this for whatever you’d like if you wanted to remix it or incorporate pieces of it into something else. Access it here.