I'm pleased to release Dysco into the wild! It's kind of experimental, it's set in the near future and is about synesthetic neon-dubstep shapes in a surveillance state.

You can watch a demo of a live version of Dysco here. You can also watch a Making-Of which has a rather long blog post underneath it if you're interested in the process, technical stuff or the ideas behind it.  You can also download some clips from Dysco (the ones I used in the live demo) here and if you're into Cinema 4D you can download the Police State Fun Pack with lots of 3D models I used in the film.

Dysco Live Demo

This is a demo of the 'live' version of my short Dysco. It's a lot of fun to play with and I think with some work it could be really cool in a live context. It's sort of like playing an instrument and in the demo above I'm really just hitting stuff at random. I haven't really got to grips with it yet, it's just to show an indication of what's do-able.

Technically it's mainly relying on Ableton Live's ability to play clips in it's timeline and OSCulator to enable Touch OSC on the iPhone. Most of the work really is in making the clips. I've been using VDMX a little as well, trying to add visual effects which work in sync with the audio tweaks but I always tricky to get to grips with. It is more than possible, again, it just needs some time.

You can find out more about Dysco here.

The Making of Dysco

 This post is about making Dysco and some of the process and thought that went into it. 

Dysco is a self-initiated experimental 3D animation. I didn't really know what 'experimental' meant when people used it to describe their work, but now I think I have a better idea. To me it means that you're in somewhat uncharted territory, that you can't plan a map ahead but have to feel your way forward. This happened whilst making Dysco mainly because of the technical challenge of producing super-tightly synchronised animation to music. Planning out something so technically and conceptually complex befuddled me so I just resorted to just making little chunks at a time and then working it out later. This approach also allowed me to try out lots of different ideas and techniques and slot them in later. Unfortunately it also led to a somewhat fuzzy narrative thread but it did, in the end, allow the animation to be made. 

Initially I aimed to make an abstract animation concerned only with synchronising shapes and sound. But the environments kept getting darker, influences from the real world crept in, especially the Snowdon leaks, the Arab Spring and maybe just the fact of living in London, the most surveilled city in the world. A lot of themes are also present from my earlier (and very stylistcally different) film Nothing To Fear. (Watch it here)

I spent a long time detailing the world of Dysco. Everything has a reason for being, for example the lampposts have solar panels and anti-climb spikes to stop interference with the cameras. The graffiti references various hacker groups and movements such as Lulsec and Anonymous.  'Freedom' or 'Resistance' is plastered on the walls in Turkish, Cantonese and Korean. The drones and security apparatus are branded with parodies of major tech companies, FreeSec is based on the Google Chrome logo whilst Omni is a parody of Facebook.

Musically it proved tricky to work with composers as I needed such specific sounds and timings. There was a lot of R&D to do and the audio and visuals were so interdependent that in the end it turned out to be easier to compose the audio myself. I hadn't a lot of experience in creating music so I had to learn some new software but it was a lot of fun. It really made me realise how much dedication and craft is needed to make well produced music. When I'd finally cut the film together Dom from Toot! took my audio and made it sound professional. He used my noises as a guide for timing and replaced or processed them and did a lot of work on sound design and mixing as well as adding lots of formant shifting to give it a nice glitchy quality. 

Many of my early tests were automated animation driven by the audio. In the end the majority of the animation was done manually but there are still some automated sections. This was because I was doing such small sections of animation there was no real need automate it, it in fact was harder to create generative systems than it was to just key it by hand. I think audio driven animation is an interesting area and something I'll continue to explore, it'd be particularly good for making semi-automated music videos or even in live performances. 

The environments are based on photographs I took around London. I used Cinema 4D's Projection Man tool to project it onto geometry and then I began populating it with futuristic buildings, barbed wire and drones. Before building anything in 3D I generally researched in online and sketched it out by hand. 

Most of the animation and particle work was created in Cinema 4D. I used After Effects to composite and add in extra effects and Premier to arrange and edit everything. I found the integration between After Effects and Premier CC surprisingly good. 

I used Thinking Particles and Xpresso a lot for the early automation tests but soon I was mainly keyframing the animation and X-Particles became my new particle plug-in of choice. It's a powerful tool and a lot of fun, if you're into that type of thing :) 


Beyonce, Grown Woman

This is a Beyonce video I worked on which was never meant to be released but somebody leaked it so it's now all over the net. Lovely to see it out there.

Edit: It's now been taken down, doh! 


BBC 4 Extra Funny

I directed this promo whilst at M-I-E. I took the project through from pitch to production.

World War One Concept

Here's a couple of concept frames I made for a pitch.


This Is Not A Conspiracy Theory

Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything Is A Remix, asked if he could use some of my animation in his new documentary series This Is Not A Conspiracy Theory. I said yes and you can see part 1 below.


Low Poly Messi

This is a concept sketch I made for a job that never happened...Click for bigness


More Hypervenom

I recently updated the Hypervenom animation I created for the lovely folk at Intro. Nike wanted to include some of the customisable colour options as well as some new animation where the creatures attack the camera. I did all the 3D in Cinema 4D and comped in After Effects.


Nike Flyknit in the 1948 Store

I helped create this film with Intro. I worked on the middle section, the folding boxes and the meshwork-jellyfish-thing or 'doily from the future' as it came to be known. It was an installation piece for the 1948 store in Shoreditch.


Nike Hypervenom

I created these two animations whilst freelancing at Intro. It was commissioned for the launch event in Brasil of the new Nike football boot, 'Hypervenom'. I very much enjoyed working with the team at Intro, it was great to be given the time and trust to create something cool. And also to work with powerful artwork and a brand like Nike. 

I was supplied with three layered 'hero' images which I then animated in After Effects to create the final pieces. I also used Cinema 4D to model and animate 3D elements such as the scorpions tails, cats eyes, snake head, claws and so on. 

It was great to be able to put into practice some of the techniques I've been learning in Cinema 4D, specifically character rigging, sculpting and bodypaint.  

I also adapted the piece to work on a giant projection mapped space for the Hypervenom PR launch. You can see an edit of the launch event here

The black version is another adaptation I created using many of the same elements. It was fun because I got to use some of the development tests and do some glitchy editing which I always enjoy.

Creative agency: Intro
Intro director: Julian Gibbs
Animation director: Simon Russell
Nike design director: Remco Vloom

Clarks, Step It Up

These are some stills for a success pitch I produced for Nickelodeon for the Clarks shoe brand. The show they were sponsoring was based around street dance. Unfortunately I couldn't produce the piece as I was going on holiday for the bulk of the production so I handed it over to Nickelodeon to produce in house. Some of the ideas I explored encouraged me to make this piece which uses the motion capture  of a dancer to drive splines and particles. I used a combination of photographs projected onto geometry (images 2, 4, 5, 6) and fully CG backgrounds (images 1, 3). Click on the images to pull them up full screen. 


Black and Decker Duosand

I created this spot through Engine Creative for Black and Decker's new Duosand sander. The second video here is a dubstep remix... I did this because I thought I'd lost the final version with audio, so I made a remix, and well, really just to entertain myself.I always think that dubstep sounds like powertools or cars revving and clashing gears.

It was important to have the streams of sawdust acting relatively realistically and swirling around in a pleasing manner. I used Thinking Particles and Paricular to achieve the effects. Everything was rendered in Cinema 4D AR.


Wildlife in Sri Lanka

This is a little fun project where I tracked in some strange fungi and worms to some footage I shot in Sri Lanka. I'm beginning to get to grips with the sculpting and bodypaint tools in Cinema 4D.


Particle Dancer

This little edit is based on some development work I was doing for another Nickelodeon project. The project took a different turn but I thought I'd carry on developing some of the ideas. This is a fairly rough and ready little edit but I think it could develop into quite a nice piece of work, whatever that may be. I quite enjoyed getting stuck into the particles and tracer networks again!


Nickelodoen Spot

I made this for Nickelodeon, I directed, animated, did the fluid sims etc.


This is a cut of some technical experiments, music by Max Cooper and Braids.


Some Characters

Here's some characters. Made just for fun.


West-Country Zombie

This is, well, truthfully, I'm not sure quite what it is. It's a crazy detailed zombie saying stuff in a West-Country accent. It's an animation test for a Kickstarter idea (for an animated film) but I'm not quite sure I can justify spending several months on a highly speculative Post-Apocalyptic West-Country Zombie Folk Musical pitch.  Saying that, the merch side has begun! My brother (site) has made some super cool T-shirts!


Wagner's Life In Miniature

I created this animation for SinfiniMusic about the life of composer Richard Wagner.

I did extensive research and tried to integrate as many elements from Wagners life into the animation. For example the stage where the piece is set is based on drawings and schematics of the real Bayreuth festival hall which Wagner built. You can see the exterior of the building in the final scene of the animation. All the buildings in the cot scene are based on real 19th Century architecture from Leipzig.

I drew the textures and illustrations by hand then took them into Cinema 4D to animate. I also modelled a lot of the elements and used my hand rendered images to texture them. I also used Sketch and Toon to create linework around the geometry to help integrate it.
I used a number of animation techniques from keyframing by hand to making use of rigid body simulations for the mechanical signs and cots and so on and of course cloth tags for the curtains. I also used a few particles for the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' section.

Below are some production images, click to enlarge.

See more production images, click here


Space War! Tutorial and preset

Here's a little preset I've released for Cinema 4D. It's a kind of automated space battle widget based on Thinking Particles. What use it'll be I don't know but it's kind of fun! You can download it here. And watch a little rendered test here.


Land Rover Infographics

I designed and animated these infographics at Imagination for the launch of the new Land Rover. I also created the Mesh Wall for the same project. With this project I tried to get away from the 45° edge cut which is so common with infographics and techy looking work. Instead I opted for nice curves! Most of the curves were created in Cinema 4D as After Effects still has no good solution for this technique.  



I worked on this animation whilst at Spov. I did quite a lot of work developing the UI concept which was animated by Alasdair Willson. On this piece I did mostly 3D work, so the comms networks (particles/mograph), texturing, lighting and camera work. There's some other films we worked on which I should be able to show in March 2013.


Diesel 3D

Here's an edit of a quickie job I did for Unit 9. See Vimeo page for more details or goto the Diesel 3D page for the full video.

Infosys Experience

I worked on this installation from the future for Moving Brands. I created a giant particle wall and generally helped with the UI design and animation for this multiscreen interactive experience.
See the Vimeo page for more details.


Wagner Teaser

Wagner Teaser from Simon Russell on Vimeo.

A little teaser for a short I'm making... stay tuned


Mesh Wall

This is an edit of some work I produced for a car launch event. I made a series of pre-rendered clips which were triggered live to a giant LED screen. I hope to get some footage of the live event soon.
The turnaround was very quick, two days in total. I used DMesh to turn selected client images into meshes which I manipulated in Cinema 4D. I've added music as a DJ was used at the event.
I also created a series of animated infographic films for the launch.

Triangulation application: DMesh
Music: Cacao


Wedding Reminder

I made this stop motion animation as a little reminder for my wedding. We used the characters on the wedding cake! Click here to see a couple more pics.



Steve Kirby approached me to help out with some telecommunication shots on a documentary called 'How We Invented The World' which was produced by Nutopia.  Above is a mini edit of some of the content.


Gridify and Spiralator

I've made a couple more Cinema 4D tools with video tutorials showing you how to use them. You can download them from the Vimeo page here.


My showreel 2012


Fluid/Smoke Dynamic Tests

Marvel at my fluids. Gape at my gasses.  Particle play with DPIT Effex and Thinking Particles.



I made a Xpresso tool for Cinema 4D called PolyStepper. It will flip a polygon object around the points of a Mograph cloner. You can watch a tutorial and download it from the Vimeo page


Particle Play

These are a series of experiments created in Cinema 4D using Thinking Particles, L-Systems and the UberTracer plug-in. I've done a lot of particle/dynamic/mograph/xpresso work recently but can't show you anything because it's all still under wraps and will be for a while yet. So I took some of the ideas and techniques I've developed and created these animations. There's really no post production on these, they're just straight from the C4D renderer.

Music: Echoes Reality (Si Begg remix) by Max Cooper

I've also had the chance to play around with the DPIT Effex plug-in, mainly just the fluid/smoke solver. Here's the results. Apologies for some of the colour combos!

And finally here's some pretty raw particle tests. Really very simple setups, just to observe how particles bounce. I was inspired by the excellent book, The Wavewatcher's Companion.


Wedding Invites

I designed these for my upcoming wedding. The card stock is from amazing Shepherds Falkiner's near Holborn. Click here to see the rest of the photos


Hyper-Connected: An Interactive Synesthesia Project

I'm working on a project based on the neurological condition of synesthesia. You can download an explanatory PDF if you're interested here. I'm looking for venues, brands or events who maybe interested in partnering with us to help host the installation. So please do get in touch if you're you think you could help or just to say hello.

Hyper-Connected Outline Document (PDF)
Related posts

Zombie Engagement Shoot

My prewife (I don't like 'fiancé') entered a competition on Rock and Roll Bride to win an engagement shoot by Rebecca Litchfield of Catwalk Wedding. All she had to do was submit an idea. For reasons unknown she decided on a post-apocalyptic zombie theme. Our idea was chosen by Rebecca and the nice people at the old Gillette building let us use their premises for the shoot. Thanks to Elbie who made everyone look like brain eating freaks (and made Nicola even more beautiful of course!) and to Dan 'Odin Raven' who took some amazing shots too. And of course thanks to the shambling hordes of the undead who made it such a blood soaked day to remember.
You can see the whole gallery here.


Nothing To Fear Tutorial

I've created a tutorial for AE Tuts Plus based on my animation Nothing To Fear. It covers general workflow from thumbnailing to animation and some animation techniques in After Effects such as expressions and parenting. 


Interactive Demos

I've been developing some interactive pieces for Hyper-Connected, using the iPad and Wii remote to trigger and manipulate the playback.


Nothing To Fear

Here's a personal project I've been working on for some time so I'm pleased to be able to post it up. Be sure to flip it to full screen when viewing as it's in HD.

Many thanks to Ben Ash from Candle Music for composing a beautiful piece of music and creating the sound effects. Also many many thanks to Ólafur Arnalds, Erased Tapes and Nettwerk Music Group for allowing me to use Ólafur's amazing music. It really did help set the whole atmosphere and feel of the piece. You can download them for free here.


Synesthesia stills

Here's some concept stills for the Wellcome Trust proposal. They both use and are inspired by Eric Cahan's work. You can visit his site here.


Diagramic Illustrations Of People

Click here to see the whole set. Also, clicking on the picture brings it up hi-res


Wellcome Trust. iPad Ableton demo

Here's a quick demo of a project I'm working on, I'm developing a proposal for the Wellcome Trust's arts bursary.

The setup is fairly simple, using Ableton, OSCulator and Touch OSC on the iPad. I've recently got this setup working with VDMX and can control it with a Wii-mote, I'll post up a vid soon.  All the visuals are created in After Effects and Cinema 4D. Apologies for the camera work, it does come into focus in a few seconds.

Here's the visuals straight from After Effects


Synesthesia Sketches

I've scanned and posted all my sketchbook notes and drawings on a Tumblr. You can find it here.


Wellcome Trust Project: Update

Excitingly Pufferfish, makers of extraordinary spherical touchscreen displays, have offered to collaborate with me on my Wellcome Trust proposal. Whilst being a fantastic opportunity it does of course offer up some technical and creative challenges. Below are some concept stills, using mirrors,  I've been working on to integrate the display into the installation.