Recently I’ve realized that most people watching ESTECHO videos have no idea what kind of process leads to their creation, especially when it comes to the psychedelic, colorful background visuals that adorn them. For this reason I’ve decided to write a series of posts that will describe how these visual effects are created, and what makes them so unique. In this first installment, I’ll be focusing on how the various graphics assets are fabricated.
Contrary to what one might assume, ESTECHO’s video backgrounds are not computer-made, digital graphics; in fact the whole process relies solely on analog video feedback, a technique that uses real objects suspended between a TV screen and a video camera. By shooting these objects and simultaneously sending a live video stream back to the TV (which is then picked up by the camera and sent back again ad infinitum), a visual feedback loop is created. These video echos can be controlled by varying the amount of light shining on the objects filmed, and also by adjusting camera controls (mostly zoom, aperture, ISO, white balance and focal point).
Positioning of the objects and camera relative to the TV set is also critical, requiring careful tuning in order to achieve the desired effects. Objects are suspended in front of the screen using thin transparent threads tied to a microphone stand, which allows for quick height adjustments.
Although various materials and designs for the hanging objects have been used in the past, these days ESTECHO videos feature foamcore mounted cardboard printouts, which have adequate rigidity and weight. The fabrication of these mounted printouts is explained below:
First, the original drawing is made, by hand or computer depending on the design. In this case, I wanted to make a sun with a hand-drawn feeling and no perfect symmetry, so I drew it by hand. Below you can see the process leading from the original drawing to a printed and colored version.
Once the printout is ready, the next step is to make a cutout of the shape, using a cutter knife. This is sometimes very tricky depending on the shape (tight inner curves are particularly hard), and takes a good amount of concentration.
Once the cardboard shape is complete, it can now be mounted on a piece of foam. This will give the object more rigidity and weight, allowing it to be hung on strings and photographed much more easily. Cutting out the foam with a knife yields very bad results, but a hot wire cutter does a great job.
Finally, the shape is ready to be used, with all its wonderful handmade imperfections:
The picture at the top of this post shows some video tests using the sun cutout. This sun will appear in the next ESTECHO video, which we’re currently busy working on, along with clouds and other celestial objects.
Finally, this is a shot of some of the shape cutouts that have been used, or are waiting to be, in ESTECHO videos. If you haven’t already, you can check the videos out on this page or directly on our YouTube channel.