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Real and Virtual Worlds Blur in an Absolutely "Biutiful" Music Video [Premiere]

Filmmaker and digital artist Hirad Sab gives an impressionistic music video to Ash Koosha’s new track.
June 28, 2016, 2:25pm
Images courtesy the artist

To be a musician these days is to be something of a multimedia artist, or at least a multimedia creative director—someone who oversees a total audiovisual concept. London-based Iranian electronic musician Ash Koosha is one such artist, as he recently proved with his live show at ICA, where he used TheWave and HTC Vive to make music in real-time in virtual reality.

One of the directors behind this VR experience, Hirad Sab, recently put together a music video for Koosha’s track “Biutiful,” collaging 2D and 3D imagery to give the digital elements a decidedly trippy texture. The visuals, a combination of the real and the virtual, are as amorphous and experimental as Koosha’s electronic music, and every bit as gorgeous.

“Before experimenting with 3D imagery I was very interested in collage work and 2D elements,” Sab tells The Creators Project. “I explored the possibilities of compositional and tonal arrangements of images and photographs that captured glimpses of life from nature to war to photos of people engaged with their daily activities.”

“There is a vivid difference between 3D images and those captured by a camera; the competition of replication versus preservation, of artificial simulations and natural occurrences,” he adds. “‘Biutiful’ was an exploratory attempt at converging these two notions into a single outcome—a visual essay contemplating prosthetic identity in the context of natural symbolism.”

The video is composed of four different elements. Initially, a sequence of animated characters is rendered as a grayscale video in real-time. Separately a sequence of an animated rectangle is generated in pure black-and-white. These sequences are then used as mapping references to displace and reposition the pixels of the scenic footage.

The intensity of white pixels (only red and green channels) in the maps are interpreted as 2D vectors, which are then used to define how far input pixels must be pushed. This technique, according to Sab, is usually used to model phenomena like hot air distortion or refractions of uneven glass.


“The footage within the rectangle is displaced once again based on a highly detailed animated Perlin noise,” Sab explains. “The marble-looking veins throughout the video are also the product of a single image of a series of strokes displaced using similar techniques.”

The overall effect is highly impressionistic, but its core focus is rather sample. Sab and Koosha, with sound and visuals, create an experience that is about journeys, whether they be real or virtual. And more than that, it is about blurring the two worlds.

Koosha intends to keep blending the real and the virtual for the album he is currently working on. He describes it as an “VR album format,” which is designed to be an extension of his ICA performance. Check out "Biutiful" below:

Ash Koosha’s album I AKA I is out now on Ninja Tune. Click here to see more of Hirad Sab’s work.


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