Javier Villegas - The fitting dance

2:10, 2009, Animation
“The fitting dance” is a figurative computer animation piece that explores the narrative possibilities of analysis-synthesis techniques over video signals.
The animation is build using the connected components of each video frame as narrative elements. In the beginning, the shape and number of regions are altered using acoustic events from the audio track. In the final part, the spectral content of the audio information is used to define the contours of the regions that conform the original image.
DirectorJavier VillegasProducerJavier VillegasWriterJavier Villegas

CountryColombiaEdition2011 AwardsJury recommended work 2009 Japan media Arts Festival. Japan 2009

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Who is Javier Villegas?
I am an electrical engineer trying to use signal and image processing techniques to create animation and real time installations.

What is The fitting dance about?
The Fitting dance is a story of gradual creation and sudden destruction. It was born as an exploration on the possibilities of analysis-synthesis techniques on video signals. The density and shape of the objects that build the image evolves dynamically with the music. Different image elements: circles, ellipses, polygons or squares take the leading role in different moments of the video. In the final part the properties of the musical signal are translated to the synthesis objects, spectral richness in the audio is represented with more elaborated contours.

How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
My background is in signal and image processing. Few years ago I started in a PhD program in Media Arts & technology at UCSB, that was the break point. There, I have had the opportunity to work on problems that challenge me to use the things I have learned as an electronic engineer in creative ways. The fitting dance was my first animation as an attempt to expose the possibilities of analysis and synthesis techniques on video signals.

Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
Computer art is usually related with abstract shapes and geometrical designs. I am interested on the use of computer algorithms to create figurative animations, always recreating reality. Shapes that engage me are the ones that seems to have potential as synthesis elements but also some kind of narrative capabilities.

How long do you usually work on one project?
It usually take me a lot of time to elaborate on an idea, once I seat on the compute it can be 1-2 months until I finish. Most of the time I have to write my own software to explore a concept.

Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I try to plan it, but at the end the initial mental image can look so different on screen that the plan has to changed.

How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
The tittle mixed the technique and the story. The technique is ellipse fitting and the object of the story is a person dancing.

Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
I try to look at geometrical patterns and think if they can be manipulated with images from a webcam. In these days of opensource movements and curated software galleries inspiration is everywhere.

How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
I use my own sound and I don’t use it only as a soundtrack. In most of my works sound is used to modify shapes or positions. It is totally part of the story.

How does content relate to the form of your work?
In many ways. Some parts are really similar, but every animation is different I have to write specific code for each one.

What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
I would love to see more interactive figurative animations.

Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
Definitely, I can not think on creating anything without the use of open source tools and libraries. The exposure that a video work can have is now greater than ever before.

Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
None, but maybe I use a little of both, I am doing visual explorations with time narrative. The two disciplines are strongly related and are getting closer everyday.

How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?
It is really influential. The spontaneous reaction of the audience is always a valuable feedback to prove what ideas worked and which dint.

What is your next project about?
I will keep working on analysis and synthesis on video signals, but now I want to develop techniques that guaranty time coherency on the synthesis elements and maybe try stereo 3D. I am also obsessed with the idea of extend double images, (images that can be perceived in two different ways) to videos.

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