There’s a reason people in the 60’s and 70’s covered their bedrooms in black lights and psychedelic posters. There’s also a reason teenagers in the 90’s and early 2000’s revived the practice in order to be “retro” and “cool” and “get out of my room Joe, mom said you have to knock!”
There’s something about bright colors, intense visuals and trippy designs that pairs so well with what I’ll refer to as “anxiety medication.” They also go quite nicely with appetite accelerators, insomnia deflectors and the world’s leading treatment for glaucoma.
The classics will always be the classics, but those 70’s beatniks and flannel-wearing 90s kids would probably sell at least half of their Pink Floyd T-Shirts and Grateful Dead albums to experience the insane 360 video that I’m about to show you. If you have a VR headset, now would be the time to put it on, and if you’re currently being treated for “restlessness”, it may be time for your next dosage.
As your brain crawls back into your head from the Cthulhu dimension we just sent it to, let me give you some details on this project. The above footage was created by Ben Ross, a technologist and musician living in San Francisco. Ross also has a “cyborg alter ego” named Maxwell Powers that creates musical and visual experiences. That was one of the more fun sentences I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing.
According to Ross, “Maxwell Powers’ music combines classic electro pop influences with modern sensibilities,” and the video above was created for the release of the single Stereo / Video in which “Maxwell Powers teamed up with Matthew Childers of Digital Introspect to create quite possibly the trippiest VR music video made to date.”
What makes the video so unique is that, according to Ross, “Unlike most VR music videos which are live action, the video combines fractal geometry, drawn images and point maps projected on virtual screens. The imagery is other-worldly and psychedelic, while also hearkening back to early 80s music videos. If TV killed the radio star, then perhaps VR will kill the music video?”
Childers was able to provide some interesting background on how this creation was formed from a technical standpoint:
“For most of the 3D scenes we used a sphere textured with a reflection and baked the texture as a movie file. That rendered the 360 animation. This method is kind of hacky, and it prevented us from using render effects or compositing tags. This made me have to think a little harder about the compositing in After Effects. The renders took forever, but luckily we had access to a few virtual machines (on amazon cloud computing). For the fractals we used the software Mandelbulb 3D which comes with a spherical camera built in. The Kinect V2 was used with Touchdesigner in order to record the point clouds of Maxwell singing. After each component of the scene was rendered we composited each component in After Effects before the final edits were made with Premiere.”
Technical wording like this is unsurprising from a man that works so closely with a cyborg. You can follow Maxwell Powers’ music on Soundcloud where he currently plans to release at least one new track every month.