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User Preferences: A Tech Q&A With Digital Scenographers Dark Matters

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do.

Each week we chat about the tools of the trade with one outstanding creative to find out exactly how they do what they do. The questions are always the same, the answers, not so much. This week: Dark Matters. Click here for more User Preferences Tech Q&As.

The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Dark Matters: We are Dark Matters, a small company based in Copenhagen, Denmark working in the field of digital scenography and communication for culture, events, and art projects.


What hardware do you use?
We develop unique setups for each project we do, and pen and paper are always the starting point. However, we have a huge love for, and experience with, projection so a lot of our projects tend to include video projectors and computers. From that basis we include custom build buttons, Kinects, remote controlled cameras, and heavy UV lights just to name a few.

Roskilde Festival Social Zone—Dark Matters designed a 500 m² playground for the audience to hang out and relax in-between concerts

What software do you use?
For visuals we use mainly Unity 3D and Modul 8, and we build on that with software like Quartz Composer and VDMX. Most content we create with Cinema 4D and we edit it with After Affects (and the rest of the Adobe Suite) and Final Cut.

If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
As we mentioned before we like to develop site-specific systems. More money would for one mean more time to play around with different gear ranging from military grade projectors and lasers, to simple set ups using an iPhone’s accelerometer. In general the rule is that we work by understanding technology but never because of technology—and it has resulted in nailing some projects with small time budgets, that somehow seem to produce just that tiny bit more pride then when you pull it of with the big toys. Don’t get us wrong though, we love the big toys as well.


Dark Matters and Emperor of Antarctica teamed up to create the video for Kenton Slash Demon’s track “Ore”

What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
Most of the people at our studio said time machine in chorus, but we realize it might result in a lazy work ethic in the end—so if we can’t get that for Christmas we would be happy with some good hologram technology.

Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
Video projection realizes the physical extension into space of our (digital) dreams. Definitely video projectors.

Interactive visual installation where audience and VJs could work together to create the main stage at Trailerpark festival 2011 in Copenhagen

What’s your favorite relic piece of technology from your childhood?
If it wasn’t for Rune Brink Hansen’s (co-owner of Dark Matters) stepmom’s Macintosh Quadra 700 he would never have discovered Photoshop 3 and programs like Strata Studio Pro in the 90s. Lasse Andersen (the other co-owner) says it is Legend of Zelda on the NES. His first real trip into a digital fairy tale—and actually still a really good game.

What piece of equipment can you simply not live without?
Pen and paper, as we said before, but it would be a bit pretentious to deny the importance of our good old computers.