TED TALKS

FIGHTERS | THE FERMI PARADOX

Director | AUTHOR

 

We are not listening to it right.

The Fermi paradox is an argument that the failure to find any extraterrestrial civilizations in the observable universe implies that something is wrong. One of the possibilities suggested is that we are not listening correctly. SETI searches for radio waves, but this technology is very brief in a civilization’s history and we have to be very lucky to point to the right directions in a very short window of time. The author personally thinks the rise of nanotechnology is bridging a new frontier on communication between humans, literally enhancing our capabilities in many aspects, such as telepathic capabilities which are only a nano implant away.

In the making of this project, my goal was to go as experimental as possible, so I tried to stay out of my comfort zone as much as possible. 

It is important to say that we had a 2 month deadline, but I was going to travel for 20 days in the middle of this, so I decided that I just had 35 days to accomplish this film. My team at The Kumite was already very busy with everyday tasks and I could not focus 100% of the time in this, as my daily work as director took me most of the time, I had to think a way to create a doable film in 35 days part time. That said, let's go to the process: 

The Deployer sm-0.4.3v

I decided to use Vitaly Bulgarov's Black Phoenix kitbash to assemble the robot out of existing parts, the first idea to come to mind is to save production time. Indeed, but there is a underneath reason much more interesting. I believe that when self aware machines start to self replicate, and after that, realize it could even reassemble itself to achieve new goals, I thought that this would be the perfect study, if I would be able to create a robot out of a collections of modules, then it would make sense for a machine to accomplish this somehow. Obviously I am been very forgiven for the fact that the 3D robot does not have the real functionality of a real robot, as I can fake a lot of things, but the fact is that the robot is pretty functional at the end, with just a few fake joints, I tried to keep it as functional as possible given the time available for this task. 

The Hydra m_3-076

When I started the Hydra I knew it would have to fly somehow, so it could navigate from the Deployer to the skin underneath it. So after a while and some thoughts about how it would work, I came up with the idea that as it is so small, like as thick as a hair it would have such small mass that it would easily float in the atmosphere, and wind would blow it away, so I thought of a device that would use compressed air to direct it as floating around, much like an astronaut in space.

The scale also makes me think that at this sizes, the structures must be created a bit different from the Deployer. It should be much more organic, mathematically created, in a generative and parametric manner, So I seaked examples in nature, like voronoi structure in fungus, spirals, symetrically acurate sometimes as it would be designed by machines, and also because of this, they would use the billion years of evolution of the nature to understand an borrow efficient shapes such as the insect like cocoon. 

I researched bioluminescent creatures to understand and inspire me with the way energy could be circulating the Hydra`s body, so used fiber optics structures with a realworld bioluminescent jellyfish footage as the light source effect.

The Nano Implants 

I made a research on generative design to create the effect, and got inspiration on Christoph Bader’s work, but at this time I was already very short in time, so I did not had the time to go much further in creation of mathematical structures. I will try to study more of this in the coming projects.

I also used an approach of using some fungus like propagation. I was divided in two possible ways to achieve this. Simulating the way it replicates itself, or using actual footage to drive the particle simulation, I decided for the later as i am not as good as I would like in this simulation world, and I thought that this would be even better as a concept, because machines will always look at nature to understand the efficiency of germs and fungus growth pattern to be followed and improved. Then in my research I found the perfect being, the slime mold, Physarum Polycephalum. It is not a fungus, not a bacteria, it is a kind of amoeba that replicates as a colony yet it has just one cell wall, with hundred thousand of nucleus, it does not even have a filo in the animal kingdom, but it is an intelligent being, finding the efficient smallest distance between two sources of nutrients, and even capable of predicting the most effective way to construct a railway network such as the Tokio experiment.

The initial idea was to capture the timelapse myself, using some nutrients to drive the slime mold to create a Nasca Lines pattern, unfortunately I could not find a way to get my hands on the slime mold myself. Then I found the great artist Heather Barnett, she makes her artistic works using the slime mold as raw material. She kindly provided some footage for me to work with. 

The most interesting part of this is that as the effect was driven by an actual living being, I could not control the outcome, and this was very nice as a goal for an experimental project such as this.

 
 
 

CREDITS

Author & Director | André Holzmeister
CREATIVE DIRECTION | André Holzmeister
Modeling/Rig/Animation/Lighting/Shading | André Holzmeister
Project Manager | Suélen Mariano
Hydras Particle FX | Marco Melantonio
Additional Modeling | Moises Gomes
Render Wrangler | Rodrigo Augusto
Softimage ICE Simulations | André Holzmeister
Post Coordinator & Comp | Van Santana
Sound Design & Soundtrack | Marcelo Baldin aka. Combustion
Slime Mold timelapses footage kindly provided by Heather Barnett & Physarum Polycephalum
Making of | Aline Lata
Photography by André Holzmeister
Assets: Black Phoenix Kitbash by Vitaly Bulgarov

SPECIAL THANKS

To my lovely wife, Ludimilla Belge, for all the support.
Roberto Martini, to have given me wings to go this route.
Marcelo Baldin aka. Combustion, for the epic sound design
The Kumite team for all the support, thank you guys you are awesome.
Van Santana for assuming the end process and doing such a great work on my absence during my vacation.
Thiago Zanato and Pedro Burneiko for all the support.
The TED crew that let this happen.
Heather Barnett and Physarum Policephalum for the amazing footage.
My Parents for everything.