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Alex Roman on the making of The Third & The Seventh, ‘From Bits To The Lens’ book

Please tell us a bit about the use of color in your work.

Yes, I admit that this is one of the great pleasures of creating a digital work of art. Color is an essential part of the process. On one hand, everyone knows that color stimulates the senses of a spectator towards a certain emotional state. It’s a very powerful tool for transmitting a certain emotion or narrative intention. On the other hand, it’s one of the most highly subjective artistic aspects of a work of art (in my view at least). This is something I really like, because we can see the various phases or states through which an artist is going, or has gone through. For me, personally, it’s the real thermometer of my style as I advance in this or that other direction in my artistic career.

How did you come up with the idea of making the timelapse sequences?

Well, this was quite interesting. The idea came from my need at that moment to test and really push the 3D render engine [Chaos Group’s V-Ray] to its limit by combining camera movements, objects’ movements and, finally, lights’ movements. A combination of three elements that can be a real challenge for many render engines. Once I made the initial tests I realized it was a very interesting narrative and symbolic device; I quickly realized it was the exact type of shots I was needing in order to transmit transitions in time to the audience.

The jump to surrealism is a great, unexpected element of the short. Why did you choose to include it, and how did you come up with the idea?

My initial concept for the short was to produce an experiment that would change a bit the rules of the game for VIZ (i.e. visualization) in regards to clients’ (architectural studios’) perceptions, combining in a piece the intrinsic beauty of certain architectural works with elements from cinematographic language. During the initial pre-production process I looked at a lot of cinematographic material, but also at many TV spots that contained a strong visual component that made good use of film language. Due to the content of the piece, it would necessarily relate more to those spots (because of the length and messages to transmit).

In advertising there is a certain creative freedom in the way concepts are told, this allows for using certain narrative luxuries such as surrealism. It was this element of freedom which really called my attention, and I decided to use it as a fundamental pillar of the piece. Architecture can sometimes end up being too rational, so I thought surrealism could be used as an essential counterbalance to that.

There is frequent use in TT&TS of occlusion, of allusion or revelation through time, rather than an explicit image. Why did you choose this aesthetic?

All of this was part of a very solid idea I had in my mind even before starting. I’m a strong believer in the concept of smoke and mirrors. So this is nothing but a declaration of intentions of the conscious choice of suggesting, and abstaining from showing explicitly. Be it due to narrative choice or technical difficulties, these are ways of navigating through the timeline of a cinematographic piece that have been employed since the early beginnings of film.

Silhouettes, shadows, reflections… I wanted to show the photographer as some kind of “ghost”, but I think that also applies to many of the architectural elements of the film. Characters of a story as well as its very structures can contain a great deal of beauty and mystery (or a complete lack of them) depending on the photographer that captures them through the lens.


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  • Midge Sinnaeve

    Can’t wait for the book, looks great!

  • Josh Pabst

    Amazing work – I remember seeing it on Vimeo a number of years ago. Always fun to get a behind the scenes glimpse.