No, I didn’t see Avatar–though I will. As a student of culture, I must. In one month, Avatar’s already become the second highest worldwide release ever, behind Cameron’s own Titanic. And this despite having a title set, as Element 79 art director Lindsay Stevens first noted, in the horrid Papyrus font. But I digress…
Instead I saw this twelve and a half minute piece called “The Third and the Seventh” by Alex Roman on Vimeo. Do yourself a favor and cleave off the time to watch this on your computer in full screen and HD. If you can’t afford the time but can find a minute and a half, watch this. And then remind yourself that despite the natural lighting, despite the seemingly hand-made erraticism of some camera moves and depth of focus changes, regardless of the incredible details of wear and tear on vintage film cameras and the botanic splendor of deciduous trees and waving shafts of wheat and grass…heck, notwithstanding even the appearance of a photographer in some of the scenes…none of it is real.
You really have to force yourself to fully absorb that. None. Of. It. Is. Real.
In these times of Harry Potter and Transformers, the most remarkable cinematic effect of all is to see something utterly believable rendered staggeringly perfect through entirely artificial means. The very invisibility of the effects in this piece will blow your mind. What it means for the future of Hollywood and commercial set building remains to be seen, but this will be used. And we’ll have more actors scampering across blue screens, only later to be turned into fantastic images and landscapes.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Alex Roman (real name Jorge Seva) is a classically trained painter who spends his days working in the world of arch viz: architectural visualizations created through computer graphics. Some amazing masterpieces of architecture appear in his film, including MAM, Milwaukee’s fabulous art museum designed by Santiago Calatrava. For more information on this filmmaker, here’s the only substantive interview I could find, conducted early in the process as he was creating various pieces before they all coalesced into his final film.
“The Third and the Seventh” refers to pillars of Art: Architecture (third) and Cinema (seventh). I’m not familiar with the entire list of pillars or their ranking, but I can speculate on the foundation of Art…