Digital artist and filmmaker Irrum typically resides in a world constructed of rendered pixels and shifting geometric shapes, but with his most recent work “Incarnadine,” he has graciously decided to join us on the human plane. Defined as colors of the flesh, Incarnadine” is a stunning visual display of color, beauty and fantastic special effects. We spoke to the artist to learn more about his filmmaking process, inspirations, and just what he’ll be making next.
Portable: How long have you been creating videos?
Irrum: For six years now. I went to university and studied film, video, and interactive arts in London. It was a combination of practical filmmaking and mixed media. I bought a camera and just began to shoot things. My first films were really just montages to music, things I had filmed with sounds I liked. I had lots of ideas that stretched beyond a camera lens, so learning about 3D animation and motion graphics felt like a natural progression for me.
Portable: Who or what are some of your influences and inspirations? What’s your taste in music, movies, art, style, etc.?
Irrum: I have a particular interest in design and architecture. I love buildings of all sorts, manmade structures, particularly ugly ones. I guess anything that has design driven approach and an element of craft involved. Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson are masters of bringing those principles into film. Alex Turvey is doing some similar things at the moment with his work.
Portable: How has your background influenced your work?
Irrum: I’d like to think so but I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. I grew up in Sheffield, in the North of England. It’s a city built on seven hills and is most famous for it’s steel production, there’s relics of an old industry everywhere. What’s lovely about it is you can be in the middle of the city one minute, and then in the wilderness of the Peak District the next. The contrast in landscape is something quite special. My taste is ever-changing, but I suppose I’m more influenced by the things I’ve done since and the people I’ve collaborated with along the way, those sorts of things probably have a stronger influence on my work now.
Portable: First of all, loved the video. Gorgeous colors, lighting, effects, and very well made. What was your inspiration for creating it?
Irrum: I worked closely with my assistant directors Alec Doherty and Alex Rose. We wanted to utilise high-speed photography and present it in a way that had never been seen before. The looks comes from using a selective colour palette throughout the film and composing every shot with that in mind. So all the elements, from the fashion to the particle effects, correspond with each other. We made 1,000 pieces of origami, sprayed petals gold, dyed feathers black, and then combined everything with hefty layers of colour in post [production], which is what gives the film a really rich look.
Portable: Can you describe the process of filming? Were there any difficulties in creating it?
Irrum: It was shot over two days with a Phantom Flex, and everything was filmed at 1500 fps. The trickiest part was the lighting. The shutter speed at such a high frame rate is so fast that you need an huge amount of light just to expose the image correctly. To make it trickier, we had to balance the light over a green screen, the models, and all the effects. We had a huge amount of light in a rather modest sized studio. The studio was like a sauna, lots of sweaty models and crew, not the easiest conditions to make a film in.
Portable: In your other videos, you tend to work more with digitally rendered images than with live figures. Do you have a preference? What are the differences between working with the two?
Irrum: I don’t have a preference, it really depends on the project. There are endless possibilities when working with computer generated imagery. If you have a vision for something, however big the scale – you can create it. The difference is that there’s often a natural detachment between something generated and something real. I guess that’s why I like to combine the two, it bridges that gap; you can end up with something quite surreal that can be both believable and outrageous at the same time.
Portable: Most of your videos are very brief, typically running under 2 minutes long. What is the reason for this brevity?
Irrum: A lot of my films are meant to be vignettes. It’s really just a case of creating something as soon as I have the idea rather than waiting to use it in a specific project, so the length is due to the fact that’s it’s just a fragmented idea. It’s all some sort of garbled process.
Portable: The music for Incarnadine is fantastic, as are the other tracks you feature in your videos. Are you attracted to any specific genre of music? How do you choose which song accompanies which video?
Irrum: Oh hey, thanks, I do like my music. I guess it’s what inspires me the most. I’m a bit of a music junkie, so whenever I get any free time I will spend it trawling through music blogs, collecting different types. There’s no specific genre, it doesn’t have to be obscure, but I guess that stuff excites me most. Sometimes I can just like a few seconds in a song and then be inspired by that, and think – I’ll use that for something later. The song in “Incarnadine” is Surburban Dream by New York-based band The Stepkids. They have a lovely wholesome sound, psychedelia mixed with early R&B. They actually ended up seeing Incarnadine and said they loved it. I met them in Berlin last month and we’ll be working together on a project very soon.
Portable: What do you hope to achieve with your work? Where do you hope it take you in the future?
Irrum: I recently relocated to Berlin. After working in London for three years on mainly commercial projects, I fancied a change of environment where I could work a lot more freely. Berlin is a very inspiring city, the neighbourhoods, the culture, the creativity. You can see why a lot of creative people come here, everyone’s a writer, a painter, a sculptor. Berlin gives you the chance to focus on something. I could never have the same lifestyle in London.
Since being here, I set up a collective called HORSE with some friends of mine. We’re a group of designers and filmmakers that interchange roles and work on projects together. We’ve got a lot of exciting projects coming up. It’s great being able to work with friends, it makes the whole creative process feel very natural. I’d certainly like to collaborate with musicians more. Working with music is an opportunity to create your own interpretation of someone else’s art. It’s the perfect challenge for me, so it’s definitely something I’d like to do more of in the future.