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"Mirage" Is A Visual And Sonic Portrait Of An Unknown City

Sound and motion designer Frederic Kokott creates a multidimensional picture without 3D software.

MIRAGE from Frederic Kokott on Vimeo.

As motion graphics lean towards the snappy and software grows ever more robust, “Mirage” is a music video that stands out for its restraint. In the piece (above), sound and motion designer Frederic Kokott slowly glides a camera through hundreds of flat planes that are rigged together to form a cinematic portrait of a city. And while the scenes look rich and multidimensional, no 3D software was used.


“We are living in a fast century and everything is growing faster. Every year comes a new computer… and a better device,” says Kokott. He hopes that his work urges viewers to slow down.

At its heart, “Mirage” is about the tension between urbanity and nature. Yet Kokott wanted to err on the side of abstraction, so that it would be up to each viewer to interpret if nature was being exploited or emerging triumphantly. Whether the city's portrait is ultimately negative or positive isn't for Kokott to say.

The first phase of the project was to find personal inspiration to grow visuals around. He composed 30 songs that were whittled down to an 11-track album, now posted on SoundCloud. For Kokott, "the musical ideas are the source." While he layered beats and melodies in Abelton, Kokott started visual R&D, sketching storyboards and animating test renders to find a matching aesthetic.

Much of the 10-week production schedule was spent positioning one dimensional shapes into low-poly looking sculptures in After Effects—effectively pushing the limits of 2.5D.

Kokott documented his entire process in a series of videos categorized by the different pieces of software he used. "I like the idea of collaborative consumption," Kokott said.

Though the piece was named “Mirage” to spur personal interpretation, the title card also includes a set of coordinates. Kokott confirmed the easter egg: the numbers point to Masdarcity, a building project in Abu Dhabi, which is a part of a new green city that will be completed in 2016. Maybe Kokott isn't as objective as he claims after all.