How 'd They Do That Spot?

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Bjork's latest clip, for "Nature is Ancient," may be just as likely to play on the Discovery Channel as on MTV2. A new twist on the Creation story, the promo recasts Adam and Eve as two plankton-like creatures who do the primordial nasty and conceive what appears to be the first humanoid creature. Thanks to the elegant work of two London outfits - directing team Lynn Fox and effects house Glassworks - the translucent creatures look to be lifted straight from the petri dish as they float and copulate in their fluid universe.

Lynn Fox, a trio of architecture grads turned clips mavens, got license from the Icelandic pixie to do their own thing for the tune; stirred by the song title, and the track's raw bass line and slow, throbbing beat, "We thought it needed to deal with the beginning of life," explains Bastian Glassner of the Lynn Fox team, which also includes Patrick Chen and Christian McKenzie (the group is repped by Blue Source Films in London). "We imagined this totally ancient, weird heartbeat hovering in space. So the idea then pretty quickly moved toward the 'missing link,' and two slightly raw, not fully figurative creatures that meet in this primordial soup; then mate and create the first human." Also inspired largely by Lennart Nilsson's photographs from the book A Child is Born, which dramatically document the development of a human fetus in the womb, the Foxers came up with preliminary renderings of the amorphous main characters, both composed of fine, membranous material.

The main problem was exactly how to animate the delicate beings. The standard Maya interface didn't fit the bill, especially in crafting fine membranes, which are downright impossible with the software's standard polygon geometry, avers the trio. So they hooked up with Glassworks and developed an alternative CG-rendering technique. "Basically, it constructs geometry out of particles," Glassner explains. "Instead of creating out of texture-mapped surfaces, you tell about 10 million little spheres where to be at a moment of time to make a piece of geometry. It's a much more natural way of collecting matter and material." All of that went into crafting about 10 different layers for each creature, which in turn were part of a roughly 30-layer composite in Inferno, which also included live-action plates filmed during an effects shoot in a water tank, as well as animation of the amniotic bits in the gelatinous lovers' liquid environment.

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