Astral Trails is our first music video created specifically for virtual reality, but definitely not the last, as this is a spectacular example of what can be done with an entirely new artform. Julien Vulliet, aka Mr. Vux, decided to interpret a song from last year’s 12″ Everything Stays The Same, by Alphabets Heaven, and the result may bring to mind dreamlike alien plant lifecycles however others may find other meaning in these beautiful abstractions.
required: oculus rift dk2
The Astral Trails experience was developed using a custom toolkit named FlareTic, which includes a rendering engine of Julien’s own design, based on DirectX11 and SharpDX.
All content is generated every frame (particle system, geometry, splines), and no caching is performed, allowing a very fast iterative process, modifying a parameter shows the end result instantly on the screen at any time.
Most geometry in the scene starts from just basic primitives (mostly sphere and cylinder), then various sets of modifiers are applied to it (subdivision, extrusion, bending….), with various mathematical functions to apply different control settings (displacement amount, predication…).
Animations are also processed in real time using a mix of node based logic and linear timeline.
It also includes a deferred shading path, in this case using a Specular only model (between 64 and 128 point lights, depending on the scene). Having fully dynamic shading allows the viewer to have more “interaction” with the scene, as all reflections are calculated in real time depending on the viewer position, which is not as easily possible using baked lights or diffuse models.
Julien Vulliet is an independent programmer based in France. His work is meant to bridge the gaps between technical and artistic purposes, with a strong interest in code, aesthetics, user interaction and experimental rendering techniques. His projects have been shown in various museums, festivals, exhibitions and events, including Wuxi Museum in China, Oslo technical museum in Norway, Cannes Lions festival in France, Roger Dubuis in Switzerland and latest Fiat X500 launch in London.
He is also an active contributor to the vvvv programming toolkit, providing new features, most notably DirectX11 rendering engine which has now been used in countless projects, from small artistic ones to high profile commercial events.
Alphabets Heaven is one of the original members of King Deluxe, having now released one album and three EP’s to date, along with a number of other contributions as well. His music videos are some of our most beloved, and his live performances are legendary. Look out for lots more from Jonny both here and elsewhere in 2016.