A custom lighting rig featuring 2,300 LEDs was used to create the hypnotic pulsing visuals in the music video for Lusine's track, "Just a Cloud," taken from new album Sensorimotor. The video is by director Michael Reisinger, who collaborated with Alex Borton to create the setup.
The rig, featuring 11 separate LED panels and over 1,000 feet of wiring, surrounds an actress listening to her headphones as she travels along on a city bus. The LED lights imitate the beats of the music with the journey becoming more intense until the woman awakens into a new reality.
Reisinger says he wanted to explore the idea of somebody waking up to the realization that we live in a simulated universe. An idea explored in many science fictions and hypothesized in a paper by Swedish philosopher Nicholas Bostrom back in 2003—it's a concept which was also iterated in a panel talk by Elon Musk last year.
"Let's assume our subjective reality is, in fact, a simulation," Reisinger tells Creators. "In a lot of fictional examples, a character awakens from a simulated world and into the real world, where everything is the same. Color, light, matter—all behave the same as in the simulation. I wanted to put our character through a similar awakening, but into a reality that's overwhelming and incomprehensible. It's the same idea Arthur C. Clarke expressed about advanced civilizations appearing magical to us. If there is a higher reality, experiencing it for the first time would probably be completely disorienting."
The build up to this takes the form of the flashing LEDs built into the rig, representing the ascension into this heightened state. The rig itself took a few months to complete, with the panels synced by Arduino and Processing. Borton explains that an Arduino-based micro-control chip was used to drive the multicolored lights, the type used to command billboard-sized video displays.
"The cool part is that instead of being stuck with one large solid video 'screen,' it was split up into multiple smaller panels," notes Borton. "This afforded us the ability to surround the subject with light, including a large backlight that played the actual background footage from the video. Treating the rig as one large video panel [also] meant the lighting cues were already synced in one video file."
They shot the lighting rig parts of the video in Reisinger's basement against a green screen, while bus footage was shot separately on a friend's privately-owned city bus. The audio and video syncing was done by hand in After Effects, and rendered into a single file for the lighting.
"Lusine's track made the video," notes Reisinger. "For some time I've loved the idea of a video portrait with dynamic lighting synchronized to music. But I don't make videos for the technical challenges. I need something emotional or experiential, something people can appreciate beyond technicalities or craft. When I listened to the track, all that motivation clicked into place."
"Just a Cloud" is taken from Lusine's album Sensorimotor out on Ghostly International, which you can order here. Learn more about the artist on his website, and see more of director Michael Reisinger's work here.