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Playgrounds Festival

‘Imagine Whatever’ was the theme of Playgrounds Festival 2015. Former 2Pause editor Maria Dicieanu submerged herself deeply in the festival’s activities for three whole days to witness some of the world’s top creatives present their latest projects. Here are her five favorite projects from Playgrounds 2015.

Part 1/2. In Part 2 Maria talks about her top 5 most inspiring presentations.

Playground’s lineup consisted of creative directors, filmmakers, designers, animators, and vfx artists from all over the globe, who walked us through the creative process of their latest projects. They pointed out useful tips and tricks and showcased projects and films that, in turn, inspired them. From European indie arty projects to commercial works, and a unique behind-the-scenes look at the vfx work done for the Jurassic World movie, each guest brought stunning pieces to display.

(Main image credit: still from the Playgrounds Titles from the section made by Woodwork)

1. De Staat – “Witch Doctor” by Studio Smack

One of the most impressive music videos of 2015, and definitely the ‘Netherclip‘ of the year, this incredible promo for “Witch Doctor” looks like it was shot in one take. The music video is the love child of a perfect collaborative process between directors Studio Smack, artist Floris Kaayk, and Dutch indie rock outfit De Staat. Torre Florim, lead-singer and songwriter of De Staat and the mastermind behind several of the band’s music videos worked side by side with the creators in brainstorming the most effective ways of visualizing the track. Florim brilliantly pointed out that as far as his music was concerned “the songs that are not suited for radio are often the best for music videos.”

This video has some amazing and uplifting CGI choreography that inspires strong emotions from viewers. Everyone who first sees this track wonders, “Is it real or not?” And this is what makes the promo truly magical – something the song on its own could never deliver. Most definitely a must-see video, worthy of its YouTube glory!
Also check out the making of.


2.    “In The Eyes of the Animal” VR installation

The perfect example of why VR is such an incredible and exciting technology when in the hands of artists with visionary minds, such as Marshmallow Laser Feast. “In The Eyes of the Animal” aims to recreate the vision of various forest animals, such as deers, dragonflies and owls. Once users put on their VR helmets, which allow for 360-degrees panoramic vision, and wear the special backpacks that simulate movement through vibration, users may experience what it’s like to be in the body of various animals. Though the images are rather ethereal and the surrounding creatures are schematically portrayed, which can make it difficult to identify the embodied animal, the experience is quite powerful. The participants genuinely feel as if they are flying or floating.

The forest and animals were captured using lidar and CT scanning techniques, photogrammetry and a 360-degree aerial camera. Through observing the function of animal sight (a dragonfly experiences life over ten times faster than a human and is able to process twelve color wavelengths, whereas humans can can process only three) the audiovisual experiment is a speculation of an alternative, nature inspired, reality.

The project shows great potential for further development in terms of better understanding wild life. But I was delighted that the experiment focused on the observation of the forest creatures, and not replicating their real life conditions. The fear of potentially getting devoured by various predators could have literally have made my heart stop!


3.    “The Armenian Genocide” by 2VEINTE

Looking at the incredible portfolio of this Argentinian collective of creatives, one can’t help notice the joyfulness of the visuals. For this project 2VEINTE stepped out of their comfort zone and adopted a black-and-white, dark mood. “The Armenian Genocide” commemorates 100 years since the events that cost the lives of approximately one and a half million people. Whether it was Pablo Gostanian’s personal connection to the story due to his Armenian roots, or simply the studio’s wish to push boundaries and explore a different type of storytelling, the resulted short film turned out to be an incredibly powerful and emotional experience. Three-and-a-half minutes of dark and twisting psychedelic animations made me sink into the tragedy, which wrecked my heart and sent a shiver up my spine, while at the same time dazzling me with abstract shapes mashing into one another.


4.    “The Box” by GMUNK

Already two years old, but Gmunk‘s “The Box” remains an incredibly relevant projection mapping masterpiece. Hearing Bradley G Munkovitz talk about what needed to happen in order for this project to work, really made us see it in a different light. I started to appreciate and understand the brilliancy of it at a deeper level. The fact that the “The Box” still stands out among all these productions of incredibly talented creators at Playgrounds is testament to the power of cutting edge innovative artworks and what happens when boundaries are being pushed and artists “imagine whatever.”


5.    “The Writing On The Wall” by Aaron Duffy

Another ‘oldie’ that’s still fresh today. “The Writing on the Wall” is a one shot music video for the ever creative band OK GO and remains a feast for the eyes, it challenges the mind through optical illusions. The promo features visual tricks that emerged from director Aaron Duffy‘s annual Halloween costumes, giving us a taste of what it means to push yourself with every opportunity for expressing creativity. This is also the perfect example of how a small personal project can be turned into an actual job. “The Writing On The Wall” might have needed 63 takes, months of preparations, and a budget worthy of a short VFX film, but this quick-and-dirty low budget version ended up being nothing short of spectacular.


Cherry on Top

I want to award mention to the Playgrounds’ Titles that charmed me at the start and end of each festival day. As the creators from Golden Wolf beautifully put it, “it’s not just about what we do, but what we can do collaboratively.” Indeed, these titles show how spectacular things can look when a bunch of super creative people get together, which in the end, is what Playgrounds festival is all about.


By @ricutza

Former editor and now guest editor Maria Dicieanu is our right honorable movie geek. She is the living manifestation of a multimedia app and loves trawling the world wide web for the finest music videos, likes to get her digital mitts dirty with conversions, uploads and video edits for Submarine Channel, and also flirts with transmedia-related journalism, reporting from festivals like Cannes, Berlinale and IDFA for European Cinema collective NISI MASA and Submarine Channel.


Playgrounds Festival