MATEREALITY – It does its thing!
Welcome back to my blog. This is the release-post about my experimental short MATEREALITY. Pump up the volume!
All visuals were created using magnetic materials like iron powder together with several colors and fluids. The music comes from Son-J, a young producer from Australia bringing us the cutting edge of trap in 2017. His track “Back up” which was used for this film has a totally unique atmospheric sound which goes well with the cinematic character of my work. It was a big pleasure to team up with Son-J and I am sure we will get a lot more to hear from him in the future.
What is this article about? It’s not only a wrap-up of my latest project.
It is about inspiration.
I was quite surprised when I saw the first videos about DIY slime. I already knew this from my childhood but had no idea how popular this topic is on youtube these days. There are countless channels and videos on how to create slimes with glue, shaving cream, shampoo and what not. And the cool thing about this kind of a “teenage issue” is how many people deal with the look and feel of a substance which in fact does nothing at all until you get it in your hands to play around with it. The feeling, the texture, the sound, the stickiness…
Will it slime?
Yes it will! A great example of inspiration. It seems to be off-topic but it only depends on what you do with it and if you are ready for the unexpected. I immediately had so many ideas on what to do with this stuff and how to film it. However, I always think twice before I start to work with a material because every project is an investment. And there is a certain risk to end up with almost nothing. In this case, I decided to take the risk because I always wanted to work with magnetism but had no idea how to create something new. One might immediately think of ferrofluid as a great magnetic material for abstract organic visuals – and it is – but it’s just overdone. This sticky magnetic slime however was new to me and I thought it was a great starting point. It’s pretty similar to magnetic putty. The main difference is that slime is much softer and better to form. Therefore it moves more and moves faster. And this was my ticket for a new project. I bought a lot of different materials and started mixing and stirring until I got a selection of magnetic slimes to test. My first results were bad and I did not expect how difficult it was to produce the perfect slime with a natural texture, a nice color and sufficient magnetic properties. It was a mess until I got a result I was happy with and ready to shoot.
A few shots from early preproduction, July 2017. Way to go!
The first sessions were promising although I found out that lighting the almost black slime is challenging. I used a 200 Watt LED fresnel lens with an output of 100000 Lux at half a meter but still did not manage to light the surface the way I wanted. To solve this issue I coated the slime with fine iron powder which gave me a detailed texture with various shades from grey to black. Now, I got the material definition and visual depth I wanted.
During my studies, I discovered that using different mixing ratios of iron oxide and iron powder produced slimes with weaker or stronger magnetic properties. Combining these “slow” and “fast” slimes lead to a very organic movement like one substance was almost eating the other one. I was quite satisfied when playing around with the footage in Premiere because I had never seen anything like this before and there were plenty of options when speedramping and reversing the clips. But grading in black and white only was a new experience to me. It took me a while until I got a uniform look within a sequence. Again, I learned that my good old GH4 with roughly 10 stops of dynamic range is a limiting factor and you loose important details in both the highlights and the shadows. But there is no way around this as I only rent cinema cameras for commercial productions. My experimental shorts are my number one passion but in fact these videos are rather for promoting a specific method and to show potential clients the possibilities of organic fx.
I decided to proceed as usual and develop different chapters or parts for the full clip. Each part had to present another style of the method. This was the point when I stumbled upon the music of Son-J and his absolute monster song “Back Up”. It gave me a perfect structure to build the visuals on and to increase the impact of the piece, bar by bar. In contrast to my previous works with fluids only, I enjoyed how much control I had over the substances and how I was able to direct it to the beat. Over time this developed to kind of a choreography of iron spikes, bouncing and shaking to the music. I experimented with an arsenal of fluids, powders and colors to create a transition from the first to the final chapter.
The biggest improvement for me was the efficiency during this project. At the beginning it was tough and I wasted a lot of ingredients until I got a substance which really was worth to make an attempt. But since then there was no looking back. I ended up with 16 shooting sessions of 3 to 4 hours each which finally gave around 20 hours of footage. Plenty of great shots!
The title of this video pretty much reflects the essence of what I am doing: I deal with materiality which is completely real, no tricks, no cheating, just pure practical effects.
Materiality – Reality – Matereality
All the best, Roman.