The 3D models are scanned from the Royal Cast collection of the Museum (so the scans are done on casts of the statues, and not the originals) and are part of the Scan The World project. To this end, the Museum has a big and growing collection of 3D models that are available for the public use as part of Open, the Statens Museum for Kunst initiative to digitize their entire collection to make it freely available for the public to use, remix, and re-elaborate to create new art.
According to Arese, this film garnered great interest from the museum. “In the words of Merete Sanderhoff, digital advisor for the museum, ‘Les Dieux Changeants’ bears evidence to the creative powers bubbling at the intersection of crowd-sourcing and open heritage,” he says.
The models, obviously, are atypical from what one would expect in a short CG film. “Everything in this film is intended to be simple and essential, with much care on details and photography. I employed black backgrounds, just one moving light source for every statue, and simple editing,” explains Arese. “I wanted the sculptures to speak for themselves in light and darkness. The Chopin ‘Nocturne op. 27 n. 2’ as a soundtrack gives a French taste to all the work, which I like, but it is also a great counterpart to the energetic visuals of the statues disintegrating. It creates a contrast of melancholy and primitive energy.”
While simplistic in style, the content creation process was rather complex. “Destroying such marble sculptures in a realistical way involved quite complicated simulations with tens of thousands of fragments, resulting in huge scene files and many things to handle at once,” says Arese. “It was a long process on doing and redoing things, tweaking parameters, caring about details to make everything right and to get the right bumpiness and asperity on the interior parts of the fragments.”
Another challenge was in finding the right compromise between image quality and render times to stay in a reasonable budget, since almost all the rendering was done via a renderfarm. V-ray, the filmmaker contends, worked out fairly well in that it enabled him to keep average render times below 10 minutes per frame at 4K resolution.
On the other hand, texturing the 3D “was very fun.” He comments: “I did all the texturing with [Adobe’s] Substance Painter, which I never used before and I learned it during the development of this project. It's a fantastic piece of software, one of the best I've seen in years, especially from a price/quality point of view.”
Indeed, this project’a aestheic is very unique and is quite different from anything Arese has done before. “My work has always been focused on the union between music and motion picture in a quite abstract way, without any specific message other than the audiovisual result itself. I kept the same approach for this last work, but I included a philosophical direction which was absent in anything I've done so far.”
“Les Dieux Changeants” can be seen at