ÉCU Film Festival | 2019
Inspired by nature and the behaviour of slime mould, a set of artificial agents react to the performance of the singer in an attempt to reconstruct the image and motion of the live action footage.
Hi Georgios thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Things are going great these days. I've just left my full-time job in VFX to work independently. Part of the plan is to invest more time on my own work and expand in new areas of computer graphics and new media.
How does it feel to have your music video Strange Jealousy part of this years ÉCU Film Festival?
It's always exciting and very rewarding to see your work playing in a theatre with a live audience together with other great works in the curated program.
Are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
Not really. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the screening.
Strange Jealousy also became a Vimeo Staff Pick, what did it mean for you to get his type of recognition?
Strange Jealousy was a passion project so any recognition and exposure is a great reward. The Vimeo Staff Pick brought a sheer amount of views and through that more exposure to other platforms. A few people reached out to express interest in future collaborations or work, which proves that non-commercial passion projects eventually may bring revenue indirectly.
Can you tell me a little bit about Strange Jealous, how did this music video come about?
Poppy (Crøm-lus) reach out to me and talked about her coming record and how she was looking for animators to produce a music video for two of her songs to support the coming release. I usually say no to such favours as animation is a very time-consuming process and takes away from other projects and things in life. I liked her song though and at the time I happened to be working on a new generative algorithm which I thought it could be a very good fit for such an emotional song.
When did you first meet Crøm-lus?
I know Poppy over 12 years now. We met in London through some common friends, when I used to live and work there.
What was the most challenging part of bringing Strange Jealousy to life?
As a passion project, I was usually working on it after a full day at work, so it's hard to come back home and sit in front of the monitor again. On the other hand, though doing my own work is by far more rewarding and important for me, so that's where I am focusing my energy more and more.
"Don't forget to go home."
Another difficulty was the fact that Poppy is based in London and I am in New York, so I wasn't able to attend the shoot. We had a few calls and I explained what I wanted and how she should shoot and light the scenes. After the first round and when I started editing the shots together, we decided to do a second shoot for the more dynamic shots.
Have you always been interested in animation?
I started being interested in animation through computer graphics. Since my teen year, I was experimenting with various graphics programs so animation came at the back of that. Eventually, I joined the computer animation BA at Bournemouth University, where I build a solid foundation for both the technical and the artistic sides of computer animation.
What was the first film you were part of?
I feel very lucky and privileged that my first job was straight in a big production feature film. I worked on X-men 3 and my first task was to develop the "atomization" effect of Professor Xavier. I learned a lot by working in such an environment surrounded by teams of highly talented people and it's definitely nice to work on projects with world-wide recognition.
How has your approach to your work changed since you started out?
I think I've become more methodical, but also better at looking at the greater picture than getting lost in the technicalities. It's easy to get lost in the infinite possibilities these tools offer, so it's important to have a clear target that you are aiming for.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
Don't forget to go home. I used to have this written and framed over my workstation at my old job. Working in creative projects it's easy to get lost in the process and it's important to know when to take breaks. Taking a step back is also important to allow your thoughts and ideas to mature. It's very common to struggle with a problem for hours, only to solve it within minutes the next morning when I come back with a fresh look.
Now you can be reflective do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
I think it's very important to find projects to work on that inspire and motivate you. Even if they may not have a financial reward, they are the ones that push you to do good work and hopefully lead to more commercial work. Over the years I've invested a fair amount of my free time for non-commercial and personal projects, which they pay off in the long run.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Strange Jealousy?
The reason I thought from early on that such type of simulation would be a good match for the song is the organic patterns that emerge. Even though it's a synthetic video, the algorithm behind it simulates the basic behaviour of slime mould. The resulting patterns appear in nature and the brain is tuned to categorize them as organic. I hope that creates a feeling of unease that reflects on the emotions of the lyrics, making a strong connection between the visuals and the song.