In 1956 Escher attempted to create a picture where there was a continuos frame linking the large image and the next smaller image in a spiral. He created a spiralling grid and used that as the basis for the unusual lithograph 'Prentententoonstelling', the print room. It depicts a young man viewing a print on a wall of a gallery, but as he follows the image of the print he finds a repeated smaller image of himself standing in the same gallery. The centre of the image is an unfinished blank space, where Escher signed and mono-graphed the piece.
This "droste effect" (named after the Chocolate brand that featured a recursive image on it packaging way back in 1904) was the inspiration for OneInThree's music video for the Wild Beasts. The Leiden University & the University of California at Berkeley initiated a joint project to decode the math of the drawing and attempted to develop a more satisfactory way of filling the 'hole' in Eschers drawing. As a result of their research they developed a formula which could complete the drawing. Josh Sommers translated this formula to into MathMap a program that allows one to distort images on a pixel by pixel basis based on instruction specified in a simple programming language. (more inside folks)
The impromptu rendering farm pictured above
Mathmap was designed to apply the effect to single images so OneInThree developed a proprietary method to be able to run batches of images through the program, unfortunately the batch limit was 40 frames before the application would crash, so with 15992 frames to run through, they needed more machines and people. OneInThree begged borrowed and stole 7 extra computers from friends, colleagues and the runners at Blink Productions and built an impromptu render farm in the directors area. The 9 computers had to be continuously tended 24 hours a day for 5 days. During the day shift two work experience students from Central Saint Martins; Abbie Stephens & Richard Holden, prepared the images in After Effects and applied the 'Droste Effect' which Ross then started compositing into the final promo, Bugsy worked the night shift tending the farm. After 1080 computer hours, over 400 crashes and 2 terabytes of data, spread across 7 hard drives, the final compositing could be done. The 'Drosted' images were brought into After Effects, re-conformed and animated to zoom in time to the beat. The transitions were then hand animated and the stills added into the mix before OneInThree headed back to The Mill, for a DCP and sound lay.
The results, a wondrous 4 minutes long journey through time and space which you can view here. The effect is pretty intense, you might get dizzy! :)
Production Company Colonel Blimp
Producer Tamsin Glasson
DOP Dan Trapp
2nd Unit DOP Guy Stephens
Stylist Hannah Edwards
Compositing OneInThree, Abbie Stephens & Richard Holden.
Online The Mill
Telecine Operator James Bamford - The Mill