SYNOPSIS: Tiny Little Engines (TLE) is a psy-trance track created through the collaboration of the seasoned craftsmen whom made up the The Visitors. They are Psy Harmonics Label co-creator Andrew Till (The Visitor), Geoffrey Hales (Rip Van Hippy) and Ollie Olsen (Third Eye, also Psy Harmonics Label creator). TLE is on the Hacking the Reality Myth compilation CD released by Psy-Harmonics c1996.
This is one of the favorite projects to date. Amazing driving psy-trance music to work with, masterfully orchestrated with melodic peaks and troughs. As an approach to making the 8.5 minute long video piece, Adem Jaffers adventurously decided to make it all 3d animated, yes all, with no 2D or editing whatsoever, and make it from start to finish! It was a massive task on a 200+MHz PC. Having never made a 3D sequence that long before, nor since. There was a render farm to help spit out frames of course.
Somewhat an epic task for one person it started off right at the start, frame #1. Creating a detailed crib sheet to work from, firstly to decipher the music. It was more like a scroll made on 0.5ml gridded square paper. Printing out the actual wave form data and gluing it down along the length of the scroll. In parallel columns next to the WAV dividing up different properties of the sounds to be animated to, stuff such as iconic shapes representing the varying complexity, gyration and pace of sound, color feel over time, sound density, feel of macro movement over the entire song so that the feel had a somewhat fractal self repeating rhythmic nature in conjunction with the feel of the micro movements over short (4, 16, 32 beat) time spans (See Crib sheet here flickr.com/photos/vjmandala/10506193606/).
Also tried something unique, Tapping out the tempo of the bass drum kicks over time in columns of 4 beat characters (eg. XXXA - XXAA - XXXA) in MS-Word text editor. Kicks were to be the driving force behind animation really; and a counting guide for knowing placement along the audio track timeline. Whilst listening to track going back over the text character columns with 'insert' destruct edit function 'on' and replacing the non kick drum characters with other significant timing representation of sound (eg. SOXA - SXAA - XOXA) to reveal, by reverse engineering, the TLE's blue print of timings - its Memic code, so to speak.
There was no pictorial storyboard - listening to the track over and over dissecting it to pieces before 3D software was even touched. At times it was possible to essentially animate without listening to the track at all, just follow the crib sheet. Planned or unplanned, it turned out that each kick occurred on the exact timing duration of 10 frames per beat (160bpm into 25fps). Which was perfect for not having half frame or fractional measures along the animation timeline. When it finally came time to put mouse to screen animation was started from the very first frame, scene by scene and bar by bar the video sequentially was animated from start to end.
With a smoothing filter to smooth out the wave forms chaotic details, a lot of sound driven animation of objects was employed i.e. Parameters such as space-warps, particle variation, color pulsing, algorithmic textures, wherever possible really. Trying to animate with as much audio-mation as possible but, automation in a way that worked with the tempo-tic drive of the rhythm.
It was a full on futuristic tekno trance track that at the time (c1997) and needed a futuristic approach! The video maps out an abstract cellular evolution of life, complexity, death and rebirth in a minimalistic way. Making TLE was somewhat of a more fascinating learning process than the actual end result. In down-time at the Unreal Pictures Studio, bit by bit tiny little rhythmic engines of animation were created, it took somewhere near 6 months to finish the video.
Tiny Little Engines (TLE)
Unreal Pictures studio - c.1995
VJ Mandala > Adem Jaffers
aka Nuero 1990 & Tekno Mandala 1991-95
Gorilla Music Video experiment in animating a video sequencially, start to end, with no editing
3ds Max, PC
‘TLE’ - The Visitors (Hacking The Reality Myth - Psy-Harmonics):
> Written & Produced by Andrew Till, Ollie Olsen & Geoffrey Hales