Tech and the arts: mashing the worlds of digital and analogue together
Updated: Apr 30
The opportunity to go ‘lo-fi’ with the photographer and short-film maker, Tom Andrew, on a portfolio of artistic projects is a refreshing change in an industry where most clients are looking to maximise the features and performance of the latest tech. Target3D co-founder Ashley Keeler explains...
"His thing, his MO is all about lo-fi; using high end, leading edge technology to create something visceral, raw, abstract."
Tom Andrew’s first foray into combining mocap with the arts was through an editorial for Vogue Italia; a dance film built around choreography by Kiani Del Valle on the theme of ‘tension and release’. Set in a dance space within a photographic studio, his film Inertia studied movement using motion capture, and a large part of the aesthetic for the shoot was based on the technology provided by Target3D.
In the eighteen months since the release of that collaboration, Tom has continued to take bits of highly evolved technology and use them in the rawest form, creating three more short, uniquely visual films, supported by us at Target3D.
Working with 3D scanned data, strobe and abstract imagery, Daniel Avery: Time Marked its Irregular Pulse in Her Eyes was directed by Tom Andrew and Sam Davis. Using a combination of Artec 3D scanners and OptiTrack system, we put the 3D data into a game engine and used our virtual camera rig to allow Tom to navigate around that data, inspecting it in a really lo-fi way. This incredibly abstract piece of noise was the final result.
Tom tells us, "When it comes to shooting we have to work quite quickly sometimes and have to think on our feet, based on accessing the visuals we’re creating. This can be challenging with the various technologies we use, as they all have their parameters, so it takes confidence to go beyond those with the knowledge of delivering quality data, something Target3D nail every time."
Shot entirely in monochrome, with lots of filmed interactions with water and strobe effects, Under the Tallest Arch was our second video with Tom and the DJ & Producer Daniel Avery. A single performer, Met Ball judge Hannah Ekholml, wore a Noitom Perception Neuron Pro suit. Using the software platform Notch, live projection particle effects were projected over Hannah and those effects were driven by the suit that she was wearing. We were essentially giving the performer the ability to drive angel wing effects - to drive these motion trails behind her as she moved around the scene. It was all shot here in Studio T3D in Hoxton. Take a look at the final edit here.
Where lots of people would be live compositing these kind of particle effects in post, Tom was more interested in driving them real time then literally shooting the digital elements on a camera. There was little CG or manipulation, everything was captured on the day. That’s what makes him so unique, and it ties together all of the videos we have worked on with him.
Choreographer Alexander Whitley wanted a compelling trailer for his dance piece showing at Sadlers Wells next year so, having been impressed by the Daniel Avery project, got in touch with Tom. The promo video Overflow that followed was also shot in the T3D Studio; using a 3D scanner and mocap data to interact with 3D scanned data. Dazzling kinetic light and lo-fi scanned elements were deposited over the dance elements of one of the performers from the upcoming show. It’s an extension of the Daniel Avery work so you can see a lot of the same elements in there. It’s definitely the evolution of it and it’s my favourite one for sure, the most mature - you see for yourself in the final video.
"One of the really cool things about the way that Tom works is that he’s so keen on playing with the combination of digital and analogue - mashing those two worlds together."
He will shoot on digital camera and then get the digital prints converted into analogue negatives so he can do crazy stuff to them in a dark room and then take them out and scan them back into the digital realm.
"Working with Target3D is always a brilliant process," commented Tom. "They have so many bits of kit to experiment with and it’s really great that they’re up for experimenting with it too and producing things more on the unconventional side, rather that what the technology is actually meant for. I’ll tend to develop an idea after spending time with Target3D learning about various pieces of kit, then Ashley will formulate a plan of how to achieve the concept I’m looking to create."
That’s what we love about it; at its core we’re getting to really undress what the tech capable of doing and using in a way that it wasn’t necessarily designed to do.
Interested in learning more? Contact Ashley at Target3D to discuss incorporating mocap or 3D scanning into your arts project.