Ethereal feat. Lord Narf 'Bump' by Aaron Vinton & Pete Puskas
Cat Velez - 9th Sept 2015
Atlanta-based Ethereal's trippy song Bump has been paired with this spookily realistic yet sporadically abstract and nightmarish video by Aaron Vinton and Pete Puskas, with 3D scanned characters that defy the rules of physics.
With unsettling twitches, jolts and momentary disfigurements, the characters inhabit a smokey house that's been trashed with the classic remnants of the American house party: those infamous red plastic cups. We asked Aaron and Pete reveal some of their tricks to create this uncanny performance video.
• Presumably you scanned the real performers and their environment? If so, how did you do this?
Yes, exactly. We went to Atlanta and scanned the Awful Records crew on location at The Barrio (their recording studio and hangout). The scans of the artists and The Barrio were done using a Structure Sensor fitted onto an iPad, which simultaneously records depth and color data. Higher resolution facial scans were made using a Microsoft Kinect and then UV mapped with photos. The Kinect was also used for motion capture of Ethereal and Lord Narf performing the song. Once we had that motion data, we could rig the scanned models puppet-style to animate the artists throughout the video.
• Were you using any new scanning techniques?
The Structure Sensor has been around a couple years and people have been exploiting the Kinect’s technology for uses beyond its Xbox implementation since it came out in 2010. We really think this is the final days of having to hack together solutions for 3D capture. More and more options are coming up that promise to make 3D, and soon even 4D scanning (the addition of capturing 3D models sequentially over time), accessible to everyday users.
• How did the concept for the video come about, and did the artist need much convincing that this would work for them?
We’d initially reached out to Awful Records hoping to find something to work on together. The idea of using 3D scans as the backbone of a video had been on our minds, and sonically Bump was just a good fit. The raw quality of the scans and the track’s glitched out synth pads just felt like a natural pairing. Ethereal loved the idea — his album is called Final Fantasy after all.
We ended up spending a long weekend in Atlanta and doing three videos with them. The other two videos born of this collaboration were directed by Ryan Staake, and were similarly unconventional and consciously unpolished. Father’s Who’s Gonna Get Fucked First was shot completely with an oral endoscope camera, while Keith Charles Spacebar’s Always 1 was an off-the-cuff 360 video made with a 10-camera GoPro rig tethered to their living room ceiling.
• How much control did you have over the results of the scanning, in particular the abstract elements? Were they controlled or unexpected?
We really wanted to embrace a run-and-gun approach to the whole thing. Awful Records themselves are incredibly prolific and their SoundCloud accounts are updated nearly daily. We wanted to emulate their unencumbered production methods and be true to the DIY spirit of the label, which meant letting the seams show and allowing the gritty artifacts of an imperfect scan or an awkward hiccup in a motion capture to play a starring role. The abstract landscapes with errant polygons, for instance, are actually the underside on a floor scan.
• How long did the production take? Was it as time-consuming as it looks?
Even with our quick and dirty approach, doing a fully 3D rendered video is indeed an involved process. From the day we took the scans to release was three months, though with a good many interruptions.
Cat Velez - 9th Sept 2015